The Fight For Your Mind in WWI

Image 1: Don’t Be Careless!

Image found on PICRYL

Context: Propaganda poster during World War I. Pictured is the wreckage of an American plane into what seems to be a swamp or quagmire. There is a pilot looking out towards the sea and spots a boat heading his direction, with another plane below him. Caption reads: ” Warning! Consider the possible consequences if you are careless in your work.”

Caption Writer: Look at the caption, does it do an effective job conveying its message? Write a new caption for the pilot standing on top of the wreckage. What would he be thinking or going through his head?

Response: I don’t think it does an effective job conveying it’s message because it’s a bit wordy. A much better caption from the pilot would read “‘Loose lips sink ships’? I think they meant ‘Sloppy work crashes planes’!” This is better because it gives the pilot in the poster some personality, as well as riff on the other message the Government was putting in their propaganda pieces about the spreading of information.

Image 2: Uncle Sam’s Guilt Trip

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Context: World War I drawing. Uncle Sam is staring at the viewer while holding a Liberty Bond in one hand and pointing to soldiers running into enemy fire only to be mercilessly gunned down. Caption reads: “Remember, they are giving their lives!”

Thought Bubbles: Uncle Sam is shown here talking directly to the viewer. What do you think he is thinking? What about the soldiers? What thoughts they might be having? Create thought bubbles for Uncle Sam and at least two of the soldiers.

Response: Uncle Sam: “For the love of god people, just give us more money so we can beat those Germans already!”
Soldier 1: “Wait, why are we fighting again? They never did anything to me!”
Soldier 2: “I know that even though my death will be meaningless, I am honored to die here in this trench with y’all.”

Image 3: All Together Now, “Let’s All Be Americans Now!”

Image found on PICRYL

Context: Cover of a World War I era songbook. It shows a soldier standing out in front rows of other soldiers under the banner title “Let’s All Be Americans Now.” These type of song books, typically for piano and voice, were popular both in the home and in public places like movie theaters, parks, and cafes. They were predominantly circulated by the Committee on Public Information.

Symbols: Analyze the image for any symbols that you can identify. In what context do they fit in? What context would make those symbols confusing? Do these symbols still hold up today?

Response: The most obvious symbol is the shield behind the soldier. The shield is most often used in imagery pertaining to the U.S., and is meant to denote some kind of official capacity. These days we most often see this type of shield being used to mark state highways. The clothes that the soldier is wearing is something that people of the time would automatically recognize as a soldier’s uniform, from the boots to the shirt and the hat. In the present day one might associate the hat with a park ranger’s hat, but the fact the person is holding a gun would show that he is a soldier of some type.

Featured image found on PICRYL.

One Reply to “The Fight For Your Mind in WWI”

  1. Great featured image sets the tone and draws the reader in. Clearly presented with context, task and response.

    Interesting variety of source material – from poster to sheet music. They all point to the need to foster US civilian support during WWI – quite a challenge with an unpopular foreign war. This point is alluded to in your post title without giving up too much info to the students.

    Your tasks are well selected for each source. And your responses detail the student learning. A first rate post all around!

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