Art as Propaganda in World War I

Education Updates

Today’s post comes from National Archives volunteer Cynthia Peterman.

Two new WWI-related teaching activities on DocsTeach.org introduce students to artists who were employed to show the war to Americans back home: Artists Document World War I and WWI Propaganda and Art.

Doughboy Fighting through Barbed Wire Entanglement, 12/21/1918. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. National Archives Identifier 12060634. Doughboy Fighting through Barbed Wire Entanglement, 12/21/1918. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. National Archives Identifier 12060634.

During the Great War, the government attempted to influence public opinion about the goals of military intervention in this European conflict. A large segment of the U.S. population was opposed to America’s entry into World War I. Therefore, the government attempted to influence popular opinion by sending American artists overseas to depict the conflict in ways that would remind Americans what their boys were fighting for.

Students today are buffeted by many types of media that vie for their attention. Advertisements (both physical and digital), music, and social…

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