The Mission

The Impact of World War Two on
San Francisco's Mission District

This lesson relates to the following topic from the California Grade 11 History-Social Science Framework for Grade Eleven:

"World War II"

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Students will understand some aspects of World War II's effect on the United States home front, by exploring its impact on the people of San Francisco's Mission District.

Time Required

1 - 2 class periods.


1. Introduce the topic by asking the students about the effects of World War II on the people in the home front. What were their grandparents' experiences?

2. Play the video segment (approx. 5 min.), beginning at the following point in the narration: "For Frank Jordan... living in the Mission was a time of pleasant memories..." and ending with... "By then the Mission had become a Latin neighborhood." This segment is between the labor segment and World War II. Use the video log to locate the segment.

3. Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 and have them enact roleplays, using the scenarios below as a guide. Encourage them to add details and additional characters as they see fit. They can also invent scenarios of their own. They may wish to do the scenario more than once and switch roles.

Your name is Sean, you are a soldier from an Irish immigrant family, just returning from the war. Before the war your parents lived in the Mission District. Now they live in a new home in the Sunset district but since you didn't get their last letter, you don't know this. You return to your old home and a strange family from Central America is now living there. The only person who can speak English is the eldest son, Pedro, who is about your age.

You are Maria, the daughter of a Nicaraguan family, newly arrived in the Mission District. Working in the garment factory, you become friends with a young Irish girl, Maureen, who invites you to her family home for dinner. Her parents aren't expecting you, they are not pleased and they try not to show it.

You are Hans and you come from a German family. Your girlfriend's name is Heather and her family is English. War has just broken out in Europe and that evening you go to Heather's house to take her to the movies. Her father greets you at the door and tells you that Heather will not be going out with you any more. You don't understand why.

You are May and you are from a family of Japanese immigrants. You return home from school one day and discover to your surprise that your family is quickly gathering up a few possessions. They have been told to leave immediately to go to an internment camp for the duration of the war. You are to go with them, no questions asked.

4. Discuss each of the roleplays as they are presented. To what degree were the students able to step inside the shoes of the character they were playing? How did it feel? What did they learn about that person's experience?

Extension Activities

1. Write a poem from the point of view of a soldier returning home to the Mission District after having been away at war.

2. Is Neo-Naziism a strong political force today? Join a Kidlink discussion group and see what other students around the nation are talking about. Or use KQED Learning Link to find other California classes for e-mail exchanges.

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Take me to The Mission home page

Take me to the Neighborhoods Menu page

PBS Online