Lesson Plan

Jobs at Springfield Armory

Men work at rows of machines.

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.3
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts.

Essential Question

What types of jobs did people have at the Springfield Armory, and what were the qualifications to get those jobs?


1. Compile data from primary sources
2. Use information from primary sources to describe qualifications for getting certain jobs at the Armory.
3. Describe some of the jobs that existed at Springfield Armory during the 20th century.
4. Explain why working at the Armory was a demanding job.
4. Complete a sample Civil Service exam in Mechanical Trades from the 1940's to better understand the qualifications needed to work at the Armory.


This lesson/activity is designed to either be taught or assigned virtually. It can also be taught in person. The only supplies that need to be gathered are copies of the activities if being done in person. In addition, if being done in person, the teacher may want to have copies of the primary sources printed out for students to share from class to class, in order to cut down on the number of copies to be made.


A worksheet for the students to complete, where they analyze primary sources to see what types of jobs could be found at the Armory and the qualifications necessary for the job. Students will then answer analysis questions related to the primary sources.

Download Ads on Armory Jobs

Some jobs at the Armory required an individual to take and pass an exam to qualify for the position. This documents contains some questions from a Civil Service Exam along with an answer key.

Download Civil Service Exam Questions


Step One: (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to recall/volunteer what the Springfield Armory was and why it was important in U.S. and Massachusetts history.
Step Two: (5 minutes)
  • Ask students to explain what a primary source is and for what purposes such sources are used. If the concept of a primary source has not yet been introduced, the definition is on the first page of the assignment.
Step Three:
  • Tell students that they will be exploring the history of the Springfield Armory by exploring the jobs people did there.
Step Four: (5 minutes)
  • Hand out Do Now/Background Information sheet. Read through Do Now with students and give them a minute or two to complete.
  • Ask for volunteers to share their answers, which will vary.
Step Five: (5 minutes)
  • Either aloud with teacher or independently by students, read through the background information and vocabulary words. Make sure students understand what a primary source is (an immediate, first-hand account of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it). Again, the definition is in the background information.
Step Six: Activity 1: Primary Source Analysis of Newspaper Articles (30-40 minutes)
  • Explain to students that they will be reading 8 actual articles from the Springfield Republican and Springfield Daily News from 1917- 1941 advertising available positions at the Springfield Armory and explaining the qualifications needed.
  • Then, using the information in the articles, students will fill in the chart in order to compare the jobs that existed at the Armory through the years. The first row on the chart has been filled in as an example. For the last category, students will need to use the inflation calculator to determine what the amounts listed in the articles would be in 2020 in order to have a better understanding of how much money people were making at certain jobs.
  • Finally, after filling out the chart, students will answer the three follow-up questions. This will require them to use the internet briefly to look for information on what some of the job titles mean (ex. Filer, gauge-checker).

Step Seven: (20-30 minutes) Activity 2: Civil Service Exam Questions for Mechanical Trades
  • Many of the newspaper articles advertising jobs available at the Armory mentioned that applicants needed to take a civil service exam.
  • Students will complete to the best of their ability two pages of a sample test of mechanical aptitude and knowledge from the 1940’s.
  • Tell students this is to give them an actual experience that someone who was applying for a job at the Armory would actually have had to complete.
  • The teacher should go over the answers with the students. An answer key is provided.

Step Eight: Students will complete the Exit Ticket, which is attached to the Civil Service Exam questions.


Primary Sources an immediate, first-hand account of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it
Apprentice – a person who works for another in order to learn a trade
Aptitude – capability; ability; acquired capacity for something; talent
Civil service – a system or method of appointing government employees on the basis of competitive examinations
Per annum/per diem – per year/per day

Supports for Struggling Learners

To differentiate the lessons:

  1. The teacher may assign less newspaper articles, and therefore have less items to complete on the analysis chart.
  2. The teacher may read the newspaper articles aloud with students.
  3. The teacher may assign less questions on the civil service exam.

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Last updated: April 8, 2021