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Artists Document World War I

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All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

It took on average one to two weeks for American servicemen to travel to Europe to fight in World War I. Once they arrived they faced the challenge of moving from the shores of France to the sites of battle. Analyze the following image and answer the four questions below. Stop for a short class discussion, then click Switch View to see the entire drawing.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Artists Document World War I

Focusing on Details: Zoom/Crop

Examine the documents included in this activity and write your response in the space provided.


  • What do you think is happening in this image?
  • What do the men appear to be standing next to?
  • What is the mood of the image?
  • You're only seeing part of this drawing — what do you think the rest of it is about?

Your Response




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Conclusion

Artists Document World War I

Focusing on Details: Zoom/Crop

Now that you have seen the entire drawing made by Walter Jack Duncan, answer the following:

  • The soldiers' names are being recorded as they debark (leave the ship). Why might this be important?
  • Photography was in wide use by 1918. Why do you think the military sent artists to Europe to cover the war in addition to photographers?


Your Response




Document

Newly Arrived Soldiers Debarking at Brest

11/24/1918

Official American military artist Capt. W.J. Duncan made this drawing. The original caption reads: As many as 30,000 men have landed at this port in one day.

During World War I, the U.S. Government’s Committee for Public Information employed artists, who followed troops into France with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during the war. Commissioned as officers in the Corps of Engineers, the artists were assigned to create artwork in a variety of media to show the war to Americans back home.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 12021547
Full Citation: Photograph 111-SC-31090; Newly Arrived Soldiers Debarking at Brest; 11/24/1918; Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/debarking-brest, December 5, 2019]


Newly Arrived Soldiers Debarking at Brest

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