Women on the Wall: A Vietnam Memorial

Women on the Wall: A Vietnam Memorial
Betty Ford: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two weeks to a month


In the years leading up to Gerald and Betty Ford’s stay in the White House, the Vietnam War was a major cause of the turmoil of the 1960s and early 1970s.  In 1973, eighteen months  before his resignation from office, President Nixon oversaw the final withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.  One little-known part of the Vietnam story has been the role that women played in Vietnam.  This lesson hope to address that “hole” in the history of the Vietnam War.


The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with the roles and sacrifices made by women in the Vietnam War through a project in which they create a Chronicle of Women in Vietnam.  One aspect of the Chronicle might be a series of interviews of local women who served there.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print materials; PowerPoint presentation program; digital camera; art supplies.


1.  Begin the lesson by asking students if they know anyone who served in Vietnam.  Do they know any women who served there?  Give students some background on the war in Vietnam, from their social studies texts, or from other books and/or websites.  Or, give them some time to research and discuss the war on their own.  It is only necessary that they know the basic outline of the war, why we were there, and what the eventual outcome was.
2.  Tell students that they are going to create a Chronicle of Women in Vietnam, because the story of their service is not widely known.  Discuss with students the form that Chronicle will take.  It could be a PowerPoint presentation; it could be a journal; it could be a scrapbook.  Also discuss what kinds of things might go into this Chronicle: pictures, letters, stories, essays, poetry, popular music, protest music, etc. 
3.  Using the websites listed below, as well as any other websites students may find and print materials, divide the class into the following groups and get them started on the project by giving them time to explore the websites and other materials.

  • Layout Editors (design of the Chronicle)
  • Assignment Editors (assigns research tasks)
  • Picture Editors (finds pictures on the Web or in books, assigns photographers as needed)
  • Editorial Board (checks all segments of the Chronicle)
  • Art Board (designs art work for Chronicle pages or slides)
  • Oral History Board (helps discover people to interview, assigns interviews, assigns photographers, oversees the writing up of interviews)

4.  This project may take several weeks or a month to complete.  It does not have to be worked on every day, but teachers and students may find that it “creeps in” to other lessons.  That would be good! 
5.  When the Chronicle is complete, have a Dedication Day in which students’ work is displayed to the school.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended by including the history of women in other wars (see Military Women Veterans website, below).

Sources & Resources:

Women in the Vietnam War 

Women in Vietnam 
Women in Vietnam – Help for Students 
Women Who Gave Their Lives in Vietnam 

Military Women Veterans 

Oral Histories from Women in Vietnam 

The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation 

A Memorial
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.