African-American Women in Boeing

Grade Levels


In this focused inquiry, students investigate the question: Can history textbooks tell the whole story?

Students will compare the information they learn from their textbook with the stories of individuals who lived through the historical event. Students will engage in critical thinking through skeptical questioning of what they are told.

Lesson Objectives

1. Students will use analytical skills to understand the purpose of Executive Order 8802.

2. Students will develop an outline of the background of labor and race in Seattle in the years leading up to WWII.

3. Students will use the information that they learned from the primary sources and oral history to create an addendum to their textbook about the impact of Executive Order 8802.

Source Materials

Northwest Enterprise newspaper articles are freely available through Washington Digital Newspapers.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

D2.His.10.6-8. Detect possible limitations in the historical record based on evidence collected from different kinds of historical sources.

D2.His.13.6-8. Evaluate the relevancy and utility of a historical source based on information such as maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose.


Compelling Question: Can history textbooks tell the whole story?

Staging the Question: Cut out the 4 pieces of the picture for each table group in your class. You can do this in partners or in groups of 4. Have the student arrange the pieces so that it forms a complete picture. (See Student Handout 1)

When the groups are done, have students answer the reflections questions individually or as part of their group:

  • What do you notice first in this image?
  • What do you think this is an image of?
  • What people and objects are shown? How are they arranged? How do they relate to each other?
  • What does this image not tell you about what is happening?
When they are done, tell them that the image is from the Seattle Times article cited below. The Boeing photograph’s citation reads, as reprinted in the article: As World War II rages, Boeing employees gather in May 1944 to celebrate the 5,000th Boeing B-17 made at Plant 2 in Seattle, near Boeing Field on the east side of East Marginal Way. Students can access this newspaper article with a Washington State Library card via the State Library’s NewsBank subscription (Seattle Times Collection):

Source: Cornwell, P. (2020, August 12). 75 years After WWII: How WWII Shaped 3 Lives. The Seattle Times, C1-C3.

Supporting Question: Did Executive Order 8802 end discrimination in war-related work?

Formative Performance Task:

  • Students should begin with context for Executive Order 8802. Students can read about it in their textbook or read the context provided on the National Archives’ website:

  • Students will then annotate the text of Executive Order 8802 (see Student Handout 2). When students are done with the annotations have them answer the question using evidence from the reading: “How did Executive Order 8802 attempt to end workplace discrimination?” The teacher may want to capture this in a way that the students can come back to their answers at the end of the lesson (chart paper, whiteboard, etc).

  • Students will then review individual experiences of war-related work during WWII. This can be done in a station rotation, in small groups, or as a whole class activity. Students will review newspaper articles from Northwest Enterprise and oral history videos of Belle Alexander. Students will use this information to answer the analysis questions and the overall question: “Did Executive Order 8802 end discrimination in war-related work?” (See Student Handout 3)


Have students use the information they got from the newspaper articles and oral history to answer the supporting question: Did Executive Order 8802 end discrimination in war-related work? Student responses should include a clear claim, specific evidence, and a well-thought-out reasoning.

Taking Informed Action:

Students will take the information that they have learned from the lesson to add to what their textbook says about Executive Order 8802. This could be a written response, collection of images, infographic, etc. Students should use evidence from the newspaper articles and oral history. Students should use proper attributions in their work.
PrimarilyWA_LessonPlan_African American Women in Boeing.pdf