Running the Numbers on America’s Contribution to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

An important lesson for students to learn is that by making the choice to distill information into statistics, or, even further, into a graph, they are leaving something else out. “What is missing?” is a powerful question for historians to ask. This activity will used statistics pulled from throughout the ABMC Blue Book to evaluate United States contributions to the Meuse-Argonne offensive and, ultimately, to World War I.

Guiding Questions

  • How can students use statistics from the ABMC Blue Book to describe and evaluate the United States’ contribution to the Meuse-Argonne offensive and World War I?

Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of statistics as a source of historical evidence.
  • Interpret statistics from the ABMC Blue Book.
  • Use statistics to describe the United States’ contribution to the Meuse-Argonne offensive and World War I.
  • Evaluate the United States’ contributions relative to other nations.


Share with students the gallery of ways to illustrate death in World War I and the Meuse-Argonne moving images video to help students understand what is gained and what is lost when looking at statistics. As you review the sources as a class, give each student the Images of Death handout to record the strengths and weaknesses of each. Teachers might note that beyond just a difference of scale and emotion, the statistics can also mask things that are not in the “official records” such as volunteers who were killed during the war, but would not show up on military casualty lists.


  • After reviewing how to use statistics effectively as a source, students are ready to build their understanding of the United States’ contribution to the war by closely studying the information in the Blue Book. In the Running the Numbers packet, there are several short exercises that can help students assess the U.S. role. Have students work through the packet individually or with small groups. To evaluate student understanding, use the Running the Numbers answer key.
  • After students have completed the packet, ask them to consider what they have learned about America’s contribution to World War I. Have them write a sticky note with a headline or tweet about it on the way out. Check these for accuracy and review the best ones as a class.


Assess student understanding using the Running the Numbers answer key.


Teachers could have students create newscasts in a similar manner to the assignment used in the Reading Maps lesson.

Materials Needed

Death Gallery

Images of Death Worksheet

Running the Numbers Packet