Over the past two years, the Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project, in partnership with The George Washington University, other Cold War experts, and high school teachers, has been developing an interactive website, THE COLD WAR FILES (www.coldwarfiles.org), designed to engage and teach high school students the big topics of the Cold War through primary source documents from both sides of the conflict. Through various interactive activities, multimedia files, engaging photography and design, the goal of the site is to develop advanced skills in critical thinking, enabling students to gain a balanced perspective on an era that determined geopolitics for 40 years.

The site's content was developed by Cold War experts and largely derived from an ever-expanding library of recently released primary source documents. This publicly accessible "Virtual Archive" contains thousands of documents, most of which are from previously inaccessible sources from "the other side" and is maintained by the Cold War International History Project (www.cwihp.org). The Cold War Files site was also developed in cooperation with high school teachers over the course of two summer institutes hosted by GWU.

"What makes this site unique is the joint effort used to develop it. The teachers provided their years of classroom experience and pedagogical knowledge to help shape the material so that it is engaging to the students. CWIHP provided access to the most recent sources in Cold War history that high school classrooms and textbooks simply cannot keep up with," said Christian Ostermann, director of the Cold War International History Project.

Divided into four units – Berlin, Korea, Vietnam, and the End of the Cold War -- the Cold War Files site provides teachers the opportunity to go beyond the textbook explanations of the Cold War and provide students with insight into the decision making process. Featuring archival documents from both the US and the communist side, Cold War Files allows high school students to explore the constraints faced by decision makers during moments of crisis in the Cold War and understand how history, culture, personalities, and ideology set the stage for policy making. The site also suggests classroom activities using the materials made available, thus bringing the events of the Cold War to life.

The site was launched officialy on November 4, 2005, following a seminar and reception hoster at the George Washington University's Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasion studies.

For more information, contact CWIHP at ColdWar@WilsonCenter.org