Lesson Plan

Role of Women at the Springfield Armory

A women wearing an apron works a a machine.

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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.4, 6-8.RH.8
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 role did women play at the Springfield Armory? How did the views on women working at the Armory change over time?


1. Analyze primary sources.
2. Compare and contrast primary sources.
3. Explain the role women played at Springfield Armory, specifically during WWII.
4. Use evidence from a text to support answers.
5. Describe the point of view of an author.


While Springfield Armory operated as a federal armory from 1794 until 1968, the workforce was mostly men. It was not until 1917, during World War I, that women were hired to work in the shops. Most of the women were laid off after the war ended, but the demand for female workers increased dramatically during World War II because of men enlisting in the military. It was with great reluctance that women were recruited, as evidenced by the Do Now article, but they became an integral part of the Armory workforce, and proved themselves equally capable, if not superior to their male counterparts in all of the jobs 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 newspaper article printed out for students to share from class to class, in order to cut down on the number of copies to be made. 


Using a page from the Springfield Republican, students will analyze the photos and text to learn about the women who worked at Springfield Armory.

Download Springfield Republican Newspaper Articles

This worksheet guides students though a series of activities examining the role of women at Springfield Armory.

Download Women at Springfield Armory Worksheet

This worksheet guides students though a series of activities examining the role of women at Springfield Armory. This is a modified version for struggling learners.

Download Women at Springfield Armory Worksheet (Modified Version)


Step One: (before beginning lesson) 

  • Ask the students to recall what kind of work was done at Springfield Armory. (producing weapons for the United States military.) 

  • Ask the students what they know about World War II. Answers will vary. Be sure to mention that the United States was involved in the conflict from 1941-1945. Over 16 million US soldiers fought in this conflict.  

  • Tell students that the lesson is about how the workforce at Springfield Armory was affected during World War II.  

Step Two: (10 minutes) 

  • Give the students copies of the Do Now. Either read the short article out loud to them, ask for student volunteers to read, or have them read the article silently. Then, give them about 3 minutes or so to answer the questions. You may want to ask for volunteers to share answers.  

  • The teacher may have a small discussion about how the roles of women in society were different in 1940’s than today, but the lesson elaborates on this theme, so do not go into too much detail.  

Step 3: (5 minutes)

  • Remind students what a primary source is, as that is what they are going to use to complete the activities with this lesson. Then, give students a copy of the lesson activities and a copy of the Sunday Republican article from Oct 11, 1942. 


Step 4: (20 minutes) Activity One 

  • Students will complete the Women at the Springfield Armory Photograph Analysis, which requires them to take a closer look at the 6 photographs in the newspaper article. They should not be reading the article until the photograph analysis is complete. 

  • Students may complete this activity independently, with a partner, or in a teacher-led group, depending on their ability.  


Step 5: (30 minutes) Activity Two 

  • Students will complete the Women at the Springfield Armory Article Analysis. Students will need to read the newspaper article to answer the questions.  

  • Students may complete this activity independently or with a partner. The teacher may read the article out loud with the students.  

Step 6: (10 minutes) 

  • Students will complete the Exit Ticker/Summarizer. In a few sentences, using information from the article, they will explain if women had a positive or negative impact on the Springfield Armory. 

  • The teacher may read the question/prompt to the students to check for understanding.  


Ordnance – military weapons, ammunition, etc. 

Forge – a special fireplace, hearth, or furnace in which metal is heated before shaping. 

Stenographer – a person who specializes in taking notes in shorthand (using abbreviations) 

Milling – an act or process of producing shaped surfaces with a machine. 

Foreman - a person in charge of a particular department, group of workers, etc., as in a factory 

Aptitude - capability; ability; acquired capacity for something; talent 

Supports for Struggling Learners

A modified version of the activity has been included for struggling learners. 

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Last updated: April 8, 2021