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Zimmermann Telegram: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1917, newspapers publish the Zimmerman Telegram leading to tense diplomatic relations and Declaration of War. This guide provides access to material related to "Zimmerman Telegraph" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Information about the Zimmermann Telegram "War Plot" spreads throughout American Newspapers.  March 1, 1917. The Day Book (Chicago, IL), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

A threat on our border—a German plot to align itself with Mexico and Japan against the US is made public. The famed Zimmermann telegram mobilizes public opinion against Germany and accelerates America’s involvement in World War I. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


January 19, 1917 The Zimmermann telegram, proposing alliance between Mexico, Japan, and Germany against the US, is sent. British Intelligence intercept and decode the message.
February 3, 1917 Formal diplomatic relations between the US and Germany end. Wilson was aware of the Zimmermann Telegram.
March 1, 1917 Zimmermann Telegram is published in American newspapers.
March 3, 1917 Zimmermann acknowledges the plot, but argues that it was not hostile because it was contingent on a US declaration of war against Germany.
April 2, 1917 President Wilson appeals to a joint session of Congress for a Declaration of War against Germany.
April 6, 1917 The US formally declares war on Germany.