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Learn About the Dreyfus Affair

Lesson 4 - A Mock Trial        Back to Lesson Page Back to the Lesson Plans Page


This lesson will teach students about bias and perspective through a mock trial of Alfred Dreyfus. The lesson uses two newspaper articles and three pieces of evidence from the time of Dreyfus' actual trial. Students will be able to analyze primary source documents, understand that all historical documents contain bias, and participate in an interactive historical reenactment.


Bordereau (memo)

(click image to enlarge)


"J'accuse!" by Emil Zola

(click image to enlarge)

La Croix facsimile

"Proces Dreyfus" from La Croix

(click for PDF facsimile version)

Postcard 4

Dreyfus Handwriting Sample

(click image to enlarge)

Esterhazy Handwriting

Esterhazy Handwriting Sample

(click image to enlarge)



Students will be divided into three groups representing the prosecution, the defense and the jury and will be given handouts accordingly. The files you will need are listed below individually, they are in the PDF format.  You may download and print them or view them onlne, whichever scenario is most appropriate for your classroom setting. Optionally, you can download a zipped version of these files in an editable MS Word format. You can also dowload a zipped version of the facsimiles of the two primary source images used above.

Teachers Lesson Plan includes instructions for the lesson.
Students copy of "J'accuse!" includes a translation of Emile Zola's "J'accuse!". (for the Defense team)
Students copy of "Proces Dreyfus" includes a translation of the newspaper artile from La Croix, September 8, 1898. (for the Prosecution team)
Students handwriting samples includes a facsimile and translation of the Bordereau and handwriting samples from Esterhazy and Dreyfus. (for prosecution, defense and jury)
Students prosecution arguments includes suggestions for the student "prosecutors".
Students defense arguments includes suggestions for the student "defenders".
Students biographies and chronology includes biographies of those involved and a chronolgy of the Affair. (for prosecution, defense and jury)
Zip files of the above documents in
or MS Word format
Two zip files that let you download the lesson plan documents listed above in either PDF or MS Word format..
Zip File of the Handwritings A single Zip file that includes high resolution images (jpegs) of the bordereau and handwriting samples used in the lesson plan (and seen above).
Overview Sources
of the Dreyfus Affair
17 minute film, Dreyfus Revisited: a Current Affair, on YouTube.
Brief PowerPoint presentation, PDF version of the PowerPoint presentation.