Lesson 2: The 1917 Investigation

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Lesson Two: The 1917 Investigation

Approximately one hour

 Opener: (5- 10 minutes)

    • Play “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” a popular song from the era.   If possible, show the lyrics to support the song while it is playing
    • Put the song in the context of WWI
    • Link yesterday’s lesson on the soldiers’ life in the trenches to today’s lesson on what happens when they come home

 Activity: (10-15 minutes)

  • Read “The 1917 Investigation” by Geoffrey Reaume as a class or individually
    • Identify the three themes that will be discussed: patient experience during 1910s-1920s, the experience of shell shock, and ‘home front’ experience with returning soldiers

 Activity: (30-40 minutes)

  • In groups or individually, students utilize the resources on the History of Madness website to build their knowledge of the three topics outlined

 Closing:  (5 minutes)

  • Briefly discuss information students found online to check for misconceptions and answer questions.  Ask students to review their notes in preparation for the cumulative activity next class.

 Reaching All Learners

  • Students could work in pairs in the computer lab to help each other with reading, comprehension and to talk about the significance of the material
  • Students can work with partners to proof read each other’s work, using the rubric to critique each other’s letters
  • Letter format could be posted for easy reference

 Resources for ‘The 1917 Investigation’ lesson:


  1. Song: “Keep the Home Fires Burning”


  1. “The 1917 Investigation,” pages 72-77 in Accounts of Abuse of Patients at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 1883-1937Geoffrey  Reaume


  1. “Evacuation Of The Sick And Wounded Organization Of Medical Units”
  2. 1918 poem: “Mental Cases”
  3. 1917 address on “The Repression of War Experience”
  4. Smith, Grafton Elliot and Tom Hatherly Pear.  Shell Shock and its Lessons.  1917.
  5. “War Nerve Cases Difficult to Treat.” New York Times.  1921.
  6. “Family Care of Mental Patients” 1936
  7. Remembrance of Patients Past