Good evening everybody. It’s great to welcome such an enthusiastic crowd.
I’m Peggy Fry, the Interim University Librarian, and i would like to thank you
all for joining us here this evening. Tonight’s program is held in conjunction
with the Department of Art and Art History and will highlight our newest
exhibition, “A War to End All Wars, 100 Years Since World War One.”
We’re delighted to have Dr. Elizabeth Prelinger here to speak with us about
this multifaceted exhibition of which she was the guest curator. Dr. Prelinger is
the Keyser Family Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art
History and has taught and lectured globally for over thirty years.
We will also have the opportunity to hear original music from the World War One
era performed by Georgetown students Laura Ratliff, Adam Bouyamourn, and Dalton Fowler. I’d like to thank professors Anthony DelDonna and Frederick Binkholder from the Department of Performing Arts for their work inarranging and organizing this special performance. I would also like to thank LuLen Walker and Christen Runge for their extensive and
careful work in curating and installing this exhibition. Now please join me in welcoming Dr. John Buchtel, the
Director of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. I’d like to echo Peggy’s welcome, thank
you all for coming. This is a special event for us here, in the Booth Family
Center for Special Collections, because it highlights, in an extraordinary way,
the complementarities made possible by having the University Art Collection, the
University Archives, the Rare Book Collection, and the Manuscript Collection
all together in one place under one roof. Because these rich and varied
collections are preserved in this manner, as we mark the centennial of the First
World War, the centennial of the close of the First
World War, we are able to look back in time through the lens of the visual arts,
artifacts, books, sheet music, photographs, letters, and other documents from the
period and of the history of Georgetown University itself. Our guest curator will
be thanking the individuals in a moment, but I want to preempt her just enough to
thank my entire department for collaborating so beautifully on what has
been very much a team effort, and I want to single out one colleague who worked
briefly for my department over this past year, Susan La vecina,
are you here, Susan thank you for being here. Sue worked for us on contract to
catalog our collection of some 400 World War One posters, they’re now fully
described and accessible and available for research, yay! And very well
curated. Now a brief word about our program this evening, after I introduce
her a few moments from now, we’ll have the privilege of hearing from our
intrepid guest curator herself, Elizabeth Prelinger, about her exhibition
followed by a few minutes for questions. We then have a very special treat.
Professor Frederick Binkholder from the Department of Performing Arts has
arranged a special musical performance for us of World War One era songs, some
of it, most of it, drawn from our collections. No, 100% from our collection,
okay. We have a great sheet music collection. When the performance
concludes, we invite you to view our exhibition while partaking of a
reception in our exhibition gallery. Please note that the Leon Robin gallery
which has the sheet music on display will also be open during the reception.
That’s inside the glass double doors to Special Collections, we’ll open it up as
soon as we close the festivities in here. Please don’t miss that part of the
exhibition, since it’s sort of tucked away a bit, we do ask that you refrain
from bringing food and drink into Special Collections so I think we have a
place for you to set your drinks down when you go in. Please also be sure to
pick up a copy of Liz’s wonderful brochure and now I have the great honor
of introducing our wonderful guest curator, Dr. Elisabeth Prelinger. Liz is
the Keyser Family Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art
History here at Georgetown where she has taught for 31 years. Over the past three
decades she has written articles, exhibition catalogs, and book reviews
in addition to lecturing in the US and abroad.
She teaches classes on German, French, American nineteenth and twentieth
century art and World War One and she has curated and co-curated important
exhibitions on such figures as Edvard Munch, Käthe Kollwitz, and Paul Gauguin in
major venues, not least the National Gallery of Art. We are very fortunate
indeed to have our humble exhibition space blessed by such expertise and by
such an eye. Liz is particularly interested in prints, and she co-taught
with the founder of our fine print collection, the late Father Joseph Haller,
and she continues to do so as often as possible with the current University Art
Curator LuLen Walker, drawing numerous examples from our collections as part of
the process. Under Liz’s tutelage, Georgetown students best have the
opportunity to learn about the artists and art movements they are studying with
actual examples drawn from our collections right under their noses.
We are particularly grateful to Liz for her generous loans to this exhibition
from her personal collection. Yet one more piece of evidence that Liz
Prelinger is one of our greatest faculty supporters here in Special Collections,
thank you Liz. Thank you John, I’m truly embarrassed. Thank you for such an amazing introduction. I just would like to start by thanking everyone
for being here and just as you echoed Peggy, I’m echoing you with thanks for
all my colleagues. I can hardly believe what a wonderful privilege it was to
work with them. And I want you to look very carefully here, because this is not
this is not me, this is, as John said, a totally collaborative effort. Lulen, Christen.
The layout, choosing things, I think it was, I like to think, a true
collaboration and I am so grateful and I feel so privileged for having that
opportunity. For now it’s a threesome and then we have a bunch of
other people. Alright. Why now? Well, as John pointed out, this is the centennial year
of the end of World War One so we’ve had four years to work on things and in fact,
for the last probably ten years or so, venues in Europe and America have been
producing scholarship at an amazing rate of every sort of books, articles,
websites, exhibitions. And what I wanted to show you here,
these are just a few things that I have gathered, my shelf gets heavier every
month, but we have Uncle Sam welcoming us again, and John already brandished the
brochure, incredible, another production of LuLen and Christen and their designer,
but you’ll notice Uncle Sam, US government is pointing at you
to join and sign up for the army, there’s the Great Crusade, the
legacy of the American Revolution some of you may have seen that, the visual arts,
French illustrators, this one is “World War One and fight for the American mind,”
you start wondering how far you can go, but you realize that you can keep going
farther and farther and that’s one of the things that was so remarkable about
working with this collection. You delve deeper and deeper and deeper
and the curators helped me do that with their knowledge of their collections. This one which I can’t wait to look into, the Great War in small format, and
this German catalog deals with things like medallions that were struck for
various events in the war and small prints so it’s not just the victors of
World War One or the Great War, you couldn’t have known then that is was the
first of two wars obviously, but even the defeated belligerent Germany producing a
catalog and trying to look honestly at what was going on, but it’s
obviously a very political issue. We have all this material
in this amazing collection, as John was pointing out in all these different
fields, and LuLen and I had been going through material and wondering
what to do, so we went to Saxby’s and had a cup of coffee, and it was over that
cup of coffee that we came up with a thematic organization within which there
are rough chronologies, and this is only one idea, we could have had many
many others as you saw from the catalogs that I showed you, but you can
greet them here, we try to have the introduction to the war, it’s a
little non-chronological because the the war started in
1914 in Europe, America did not declare war until April 6th of 1917, and we
didn’t really get over there until late 1917 and the beginning of 1918. But we included things like Uncle Sam, how can you not. And then Georgetown,
which is a remarkable pod for which the University Archivist, Lynn Conway,
wrote the labels. Weapons, combat life, life and culture homefront, and then
silence at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th month on the eleventh day. And that was the
end, but it wasn’t the end because a lot more happen. This is the
process of the exhibition that I thought you’d be interested in seeing because the installation looks so effortless, but it’s not. That’s the talent of the curators. So here at the tables in
the study room in the wonderful Booth Center we began laying things out to make
sense, not easy. And then here is another scene, moving them around seeing
how they’re going to work, and again, the variety of objects, as John said, is
what’s remarkable because we have here a poster of a woman, an American at a
switchboard abroad, we have an ad, we have a cross of honor, we have right here
a German book of poems, it’s a person who wrote
about love and hate and how can hate exist if you’re loving your fatherland
so it’s okay to hate the English, he was someone whom the Nazis liked very much
later on in the decades. That’s something I found and thought it was
pretty fun, sort of. And that is what it looks like now, and if you haven’t had a chance
to look at the exhibition yet you have an incredible treat in store for you. I
know the objects and I’m absolutely mesmerized with how
they’re installed. So this is the result moving from a cup of coffee to designing
a layout and then installing it. Now, it’s not my intention here, this is not a
scholarly talk, to give you the history of World War One, you know suffice it to
say that we had the two sides, we had the Central Powers of Germany and
Austria-Hungary empires and the Ottoman Turks, they wouldn’t survive the
war those empires. The Central Powers and then the Allies, France,
Britain, ultimately America, so I’m being very brief there but you can read more
at both in the brochure and in the labels. I’ll say, actually, that it is a
very label heavy show, that’s I think one of the fun things about working with a
collection within a university is that you don’t have to write just one
sentence, or at least I didn’t, but you can write more and have it really be a
vehicle for learning and I hope that’s what what people will get out of it.
I just wanted quickly to show you a map so that you get a sense of where things
were, this is the Western Front, and then here in the East with Russia is the Eastern Front, and my colleague Allison Hilton had just visited Sarajevo there
and stood in the footprints of the young Serbian nationalist who assassinated
Crown Prince Ferdinand and his wife Sophie which then set off the tinderbox and started the war. That’s a little sketchy but you can find out more about it. Europe was being
broiled with problems with mutual alliances and so it was a
complicated political situation right from the start. Now here’s one of the
things that was so much fun, was looking at books, and John mentioned the Rare
Book Collection under Ethan Henderson. Edith Wharton, you’ll
recognize her name, of course, from “The Age of Innocence,” “Ethan Frome,” the
novelist. She was in France during that time she basically lived in Paris for a
lot of her life and she helped with refugees and was rewarded by the French
government. This book is really quite a remarkable thing to think about. “One of
the most detestable things about war … except death and ruin,”
is that everything is “so visually stimulating and absorbing.” Well, it is.
It’s sort of the horror that takes you out of your comfort level, or like the
horror movie where some kid is going to go down in the basement and you say
“don’t go, don’t go.” What sort of sets the tone for the artifacts and
art that are going to be produced, because surely she wasn’t talking about
this sort of thing and this is the real story, and I didn’t even bring some of
the really bad things because this is the afternoon
people want wine, but you know the people who have been blinded by gas, you know
one of the progress weapons that was invented during World War One were
poison gases, and then landscapes in utter ruins. When I was
visiting the landscapes at one point, the battlefields, they showed us a tree, a lone
tree, sitting amidst vast fields and the tree had undergone so much shelling
around it and foreign substances that is had petrified, stone. I mean, extraordinary. And trenches, we
associate of course the war on the western front with the trenches. Look here,
the trenches were so filled with rats that it became sport to catch them and
show off how many rats you had. And this is an American soldier, one of the
big presences in World War One is barbed wire which was rolled out to keep the distance which was sometimes very very small between the
two fighting forces. You can, of course, get stuck there and, golly I have too many
anecdotes but I have to keep going, but you know the tragedy of someone
who’s out there possibly still alive but not able to be rescued because you get
picked off by a sniper. So I’ve got a number of books that, I’m
going to be honest here, my brother sent nine boxes of World War One books
among which are many of special interest and importance, and once I
started delving into them I find out about Richard Harding Davis who was a
war correspondent, but in this book with the Allies which was originally
published in 1914 he writes about how he’s over there, he’s seen these things, he’s given you a warning about the military
mad government of Germany. And then here he has chapters where he
talks of the depredations that the Germans have inflicted
either on people when they invaded Belgium in 1914 and
then into northern France. One of the things that they shelled was the great
Cathedral of Reims which was the coronation church of France, something
like 29 Kings have been crowned there, and it’s utter uselessness, it was just
kind of a punitive thing, though they said there were snipers hiding in there,
who knows, but you know this disruption of great monuments, also the great
library in the Belgian city of Leuven that was destroyed are famous that when
the war was over would be described as war crimes and things that Germany had
to pay for. One of the things is the importance of images in World War One,
and in fact it’s extraordinary how many images were made of all sorts, for
example, posters, I’m so glad those have all been cataloged, that’s very exciting. World War One posters are extraordinary, I think there were about 2,500 different
ones made in the US, hundreds and hundreds
in other combatant countries as well. A good poster, what does it need,
it needs a big simple design, color, big words so that it can transmit
its message very quickly and succinctly. Here is an American one, 1918 because we got in late, “Beat back the Hun,” Germans were
called Huns by the Allies to refer back to Attila and the marauding hordes of
Germanic tribes so we get it, they’re bad. Here, this
face with its Prussian pickelhaube, the Prussians spiked helmet,
coming over on the other side of the sea, bloody bayonet, and then here I’ve
always been interested to see that is a ruin, it could be of Reims, the
Cathedral, it could be referring to that, it’s not quite clear, but those green
eyes would scare anyone into buying a Liberty Bond which was upon you could
buy from the government to help finance the war. You will find a lot
of posters that emphasize that. Now this is very misleading, and you’ll
see that when you look at the show, which is that this, Prussians, massacring
Belgians when they came in and here’s
one throwing someone, I don’t know whether it’s a baby, against the wall all
the dead Belgians and you know with the butt of his rifle. This is actually a very small print. It’s getting over a very big message
in a fine print which is interesting that the medium is
of a high diction, if you want to put it that way, as opposed to a color
poster which was run off as an offset. Posters were used not just for war related things
like “enlist,” or Liberty Bonds, or “oppose the the Germans” in some way if if
we’re talking about American posters, but also things on the home front. I’m
showing you you know the cute little American child who was saluting his bowl
of either oatmeal or cornmeal mush, he surely hates it, because the
point is to save the food for the soldiers, leave nothing on
your plate. It’s interesting because, at the time, Herbert Hoover who was head
of the United States Food Administration said that food was second only to
weapons and winning the war, and when you think about it it’s probably true. I wanted to show you
this little pixelated image of the little German girl who is holding a big
peach pit and it says, “collect fruit pits,” because they were used
among other things for filtering gas in gas masks, so use whatever you
can in terms of materials, save things because they do have. Another
thing that we can look out for and that you can look out for when you’re going
through is representations of women because we know that the whole situation
for women changed during World War One. Women stepped into jobs that had been
vacated by men for one thing, and also there was the formation of different
kinds of organizations for women whether it was to help out on the home-front or
in the context of the army. One of the things that betrays the organization
and the striving for status was the creation of uniforms for women. One of
my colleagues of American history works on women’s uniforms, a very important
thing. Here we have a switchboard operator and American under the auspices
of the YWCA, “hello girls” they were called, and then here are all the troops
outside, she’s busy with her work, how different. These Howard Chandler Christy posters are hilarious. You’ll be able to see
things like this where he uses an image of Liberty leading the people or something with, what is it, wardrobe malfunction that might happen there, a sexy girl to have people bond or fight.
This kind of image was used with moderate frequency but I think it gives
you the sense of idealized female figure and a female who
really represents some very important activity. Lulen, the art
curator, and here is Christen who is persistent, did you find this, because
this is a very rare print? LuLen found this one, a very
rare representation of an African American soldier and an
African American fighting unit called “Colored Man is No Slacker,” and would I go into more about the Great Migration but I actually have less time than I thought
so I’m going to be a little more contained with the
anecdotes. But anyway, here slacker was not just meaning, at the time, someone who wasn’t doing his work, but it also meant a draft dodger. It has that meaning, and here is a very dignified man
saying goodbye to his wife or sweetheart and going off to join the army. About 1 million African American men signed up to and enlist and about 370,000
actually were inducted into the army, so there was a presence. If they hoped that it
was going materially to improve their status, they were wrong, it wasn’t going to and they didn’t fight in the same way that the white soldiers did.
But any idea that the black population was not patriotic was
certainly given the lie by their excitement, well not excitement, but their
willingness and readiness to defend their
country. All right, Georgetown. And Lynn knows all about this, there’s Lynn, the
University Archivist, and she’s written the labels for this
section. The government wanted university campuses to mobilize. It
couldn’t be too soon. And under the encouragement of the
Chamberlin Bill, universities did mobilize and Georgetown was among that
group. They even unfurled a service flag here on
Healy to honor the Georgetown students who had participated. It was made by the
senior class at Visitation, which was sort of nice. And then here is a poem. But the
star, it’s fair to say, was Stubby the dog.
Stubby was a much decorated sort-of bull terrier. There were stories of him
going out and biting the leg of the first German he saw and holding on as tightly as he could. And I wanted
to show you, I went down to the Smithsonian because Stubby is down there. When he died they have eviscerated him and filled him up, the skin up with the ashes,
sewed him back up together. And sometimes, at least, he’s on view. But they also
have a lot of his medals that he was awarded, the Croix de Lorraine and other kinds of honors that this dog received. But the important thing was that his
master brought him to Georgetown, I guess he was a student, and he became the mascot, and that’s before Jack. So a real World War One hero.
You can look at the whole Georgetown installation as well. Now another thing,
it’s not surprising, but everyone was homesick. Everyone, certainly Americans,
but you know the Europeans – they weren’t home it was some tremendously
difficult and if you were under bombardment sometimes for days at a time,
the agony of that led to a lot of letters, there was no other way between
families and soldiers. And this is a soldier, Hansford Tunnell lived in Texas and
he wrote a lot of very interesting things – these are on loan from a
Georgetown person – and he’s very chatty, and he actually says, among all the other
things that are going on, and remember these letters could all be censored, they
went through sensors, but he says “lots of pretty girls in France, but they haven’t
got a thing on the American girls,” so you get things like that. And then I’m
sorry, I photographed these through the plastic, but these are German field
postcards, where you could buy a printed card, a postcard, and send at home and
they are on the reproductions of drawings. Here for example,
made for this purpose, you’ll see it in the exhibition, someone is
getting a haircut while another, you can see the spiked helmet, is fulfilling his
sniper functions. So again, America and Germany people feeling the
same. I love this. And this was one of the fun things about working with this
collection and working with archival materials, you never know what people
saved. And this person, again from the label you’ll see, saved this little style
book from Hart Schaffner Marx, the name will still ring a bell to some of
you. The war and your clothes, making this connection between buying good, expensive clothing and ultimately supporting the war that way because you don’t have to
buy more and use up more wool. That is so clever. You have this very dandified young man
in evening dress and dancing shoes pulling out this uniform from the
box, very beautifully tailored, but there in the background are the Marines, and
that’s a real poster. So to have that he better get out there and
fight. But to me, that’s a kind of a neat find and one can just keep going and
find these things. How am I doing? Five minutes. Will you excuse me just a second. Let me shorten this a little bit and
just show you that you’re going to be looking at a section on weapons, and of
course the idea of the creation of these new types of weapons from Howitzer to
this wonderful thing here, which is body armor. I mean, la plus ca change, it’s your
medieval armor that was designed by an American, Dr. Brewster, and they’re trying
it out. It is on the cover of a French photographic magazine from this era
called “The Mirror,” and it was one of the first magazines to show a corpse in a
photograph because for a long while those things
were not allowed. Stereoscopic photographs. You know it’s
funny, when you put them in and look and it becomes 3D. it’s like a
parlor game. You’d use that to look at the
Alps, and all of a sudden you were looking at a dead German who’s tangled
and barbed wire. So you see the frame of reference is shifting, obviously. The war finally comes to an end
with an armistice that is signed between Germany and the Allies. You had an agreement to stop fighting, the guns stop, I told you 11-11 at 11 a.m., and
the next thing that needs to be done is to create a treaty. And the so-called Versailles treaty is the one that has been said to, by some
scholars, practically to lead to the problems of World War Two.
It was so punitive, well the French and Britain, look what they lost,
but people like the economist John Maynard Keynes said this is not going to
end well. And a levy of over three hundred billion marks was required
to be paid, it did not get paid, and also the important thing was the so-called
war guilt clause which meant that the treaty insisted that Germany accept all the
guilt for the war, and ultimately they had to accede to that. And this is a
wonderful piece from the James Brown Scott papers, he was at Georgetown Law
Professor, and here is part, you’ll see secret, of the Versailles treaty being
being put together and you can see all of his own hand corrections, it’s really
history in the making. Tremendously exciting. And I just wanted to say, and
now I will be coming to an end, I think, is the cultural aspect; it’s amazing such a horrible
experience produced remarkable art, remarkable poetry, and remarkable music, which, thanks to Professor Anthony DelDonna and Fred, we’re going to hear some of, and to echo John, make sure you see the sheet music.
But this book on “Art and the Great War,” talking about art from every country,
it came out in 1919, the year after the end of the war. Who knew
that heart be so important that it would come out so quickly thereafter.
And then poems, of course the high diction poems of a British Wilfred Owen,
and the famous poem by the Canadian John McCrea, “in Flanders Fields, the poppies blow,” etc., you know all that area was covered with poppies and in Britain
where Armistice Day is still celebrated, people still wear poppies, you
may have seen in the field of poppies that was an art installation a number
of years ago. And thanks to Ethan’s collecting there is a gorgeous
addition in the Georgetown collection. Here, and I won’t dwell, are music covers,
extraordinary music produced. Tremendous amounts of popular songs keep up morale.
And music play not only in the home, but at the front, and you’ll see examples of
that. I’m almost done here. Battlefield tourism right after
the war. I bought this, this was my tourist book when I went to visit you
guys and hit Rome, this is a little bigger, it’s a
travel book to take you around battlefields, and here it has pictures
and paths. It’s funny, because it was dangerous then and dangerous now. To say one more thing, among the papers at Georgetown are the John Knox
papers, and I have to find out more about John Knox actually because he was really weird. He was a rabid autograph seeker, and his
room, by his own admission, you’ll have to read this, was covered with photos and
autographs, and not only did he collect these when he wrote to Hindenburg
Clemenceau, and the deposed Kaiser asking for their autographs. And you read this, “there is nothing that I’d like more …” It’s very strange. And just
to come to a conclusion here, there are so many aspects to the legacy of World
War One; the current demarcations of countries in the Middle
East for which with which we continue to struggle, and that’s only
one of a million things. But I did want to show you, 1931 and print-maker in New
York is showing this group of Maine soldiers trying to get a few coins in
New York City from just bicycling around. You’ll see this one has to pedal with
his hands because he has no legs, no arm, a peg leg, and the injuries of World War
One were astonishing. One good thing that came out of those injuries was a lot of work on reconstructive surgery. So there’s a lot
in the balance, and what we hope is that as you go through the show, you’ll find
yourself immersed in what was going on on so many different levels of this very
interwoven selection of objects. Thank you. Is there anything I can try to
answer? Just out of curiosity, did the collections have, I see you have sheet music terms of popular culture, was there
anything in terms of movies, movie stills, you know Chaplin, everybody went out on war bond drives, children’s books, cartoons, comics things like that right? Is that poppy a poppy? That’s fabulous. Of course there was a whole
culture of children’s things, I put in a young boys adventure book, there’s that there’s also the Belgian or Dutch cartoons , so we did some of that. With regard to movies, LuLen,
I’m not sure, the answer is no. Yes, Sarah. Well we’re now in the longest war that the United States
experienced, and do you see in American artists a similar reaction or not? It’s a good question, there’s just so much produced, but I don’t really know the answer. I mean
obviously we’ve had tons of novels and things like that, but in terms of the visual arts, does anyone know more about that? The American army has combat artists as well as photographers and historians, they do drawings as well. That probably has not yet been made available to the public. That’s right, and during World War One, there were eight official artists who went
over and their very realistic drawings are in American history, so you’re
absolutely right, the branches of the military have their things, thank you.
Many movies. Oh absolutely, absolutely. And think of “La Grande Illusion,”
and all others, and Charlie Chaplin as Warren said, the film culture was
crucial. The Air and Space Museum has a wonderful exhibit on those artist from the War. First time it’s ever been shown. You know, “All Quiet On the Western
Front,” crucial. And I didn’t talk much about those German books including
“Storm of Steel” by Ernst Jünger one very pro war and the remark being
very pacifist, so you know there was a whole dialogue of things like that, thank
you. Yes. The war actually, American
involvement took place basically over two years in the life of Georgetown
University, two full academic years, is there any, and I know that during World War Two essentially the campus was taken over by the army as an officer training facility, is there much material in the university’s
archives about life on campus, student life, to the extent to which it was
affected during the course of the war? I’ll try to say something and then Lynn
Conway will probably have something to say too. Some of the things
like that picture of Healy with the surface flat are in the
Georgetown College Journal, and if you leaf through those during this this
time period you can find out a tremendous amount about what was going
on at the time, which I didn’t do. So the College Journal was a student newspaper at that timem so there’s coverage
there, we do have photographs, and we do actually have a lot of record
because yes, basically the same thing happened with World War One that
happened with World War Two. Most of the students on campus actually were cadets
rather than civilians. And you’ll see, I think we have it in the
show, the drilling in Ryan Gym and stuff like that. I was going to ask you, I spent time in Eastern Europe, and of course modern Romania was formed at the end of World War One, but I was wondering if in your research
you ran across, there was some fantastic music that came out besides
over there, and I was wondering if you ever heard of some called Mali, my Mali
Oh, I was in Scotland for a while and it was a really powerful
song and there’s a more recent one, I don’t think dates from that time, but I’d
be interested what you ran across two songs from that time, there’s a
recent one called Young William McBride “Green Fields of France,” is not from that
era but it’s about it. There was also a great movie called
“The Soldiers’ Story” it was about World War two, about the black regiments and the
black soldiers and they were really desperate, they called up hundreds of thousands of black soldiers to fight for the Union
Army in the Civil War ended and then millions to fight in World War two. And the guy says,
the black D I says to his black recruits, “the last war,” I mean World War one, “didn’t
change things as much as it looked like it was going to, but this
war is gonna change everything,” you’re talking about World War two. But the interesting thing to look into is that whole interaction, because I bet
a lot of black soldiers when they signed up we’re thinking that’s like when they
came out of the Civil War they had a fighting chance to really be
free and to really to really transform society got rolled back, but that would be a whole interesting area to research. The
answer is I don’t know, but I think the thing that’s even more important is that
you have suggested how much, this is
just a surface thing compared with what one can find out, and obviously people
have made inroads like with “Soldiers’ Song,” but how far can one go. And you don’t know about this song, do you? I’ve never heard of that song but there were
African American band that were sent to over, and one of the most famous was
the Shoo-fly Regimen, and there’s actually a lot of research being done
right now about them. Did you write about that in your label? I’m sorry, Professor DelDonna, professor of music, wrote the labels for the sheet music that’s in the Leon Robin
Gallery so make sure you see it. The illustrations on the covers are
unbelievable. Thank you for doing that.
One more question, anyone? I wanted ask about art for and by the colonial subjects of this time, was there propaganda and recruitment art being set around the world in different languages,
and have you come across any interesting examples? That is such a great idea, I
would have to check to see because there were people who are working on all
these issues. I’m glad you brought up the colonial troops because remember the
British Empire, there were troops coming from all over, troops of color, troops of not
color, and the answer is I don’t know but it’s a great topic for research. LuLen, is
there you know of in your collection? We have images of colonial citizens. A great sacrifice.
Sara is one of the curators at the Library of Congress so that might be
able to talk for you to have. Talking quickly about ordinance, that’s one of
the things that was so scary about those guidebooks, the woods and everywhere were
full of explosive devices that hadn’t yet gone off. And to this day, a farmer
plowing his field will happen upon on something dangerous. And when I was going
through those areas you will still see little piles of war material on the
side of the road and it’s picked up regularly. Did you have anything
to add to that? You have farmers actually establishing sort of personal museums. Some is exhibited in the Smithsonian. I was going mention that as well, Bart is a military historian and also one of the curators at American History, so if you
have any questions he too is a remarkable resource and one
of my mentors. Thank you all. And as you were
mentioning about all of the music from this time period, it is quite a task to
narrow everything back, to just choose, we chose four selections for tonight’s mini concert. And so we’ve chosen something that you know and same that you don’t know, that you will find absolutely heart-wrenching but then also there’s
some humor in some of the others. The first thing we’re going to do is that
Laura Ratliff is going to be singing a tune that was written in 1917 just when
the US began under the fight in Europe. And this was probably the most popular
tune, American tune, that was produced. And you probably already know what it is,
it was written by George M. Cohan, and this is “Over There,” and I’m going to go
over and turn pages, but I’ll let you know about each of these selections. So
this is “Over There.” That song, as you know, was also
used for recruitment, but it was also used for a morale booster, and it served
its purpose wonderfully. The tune, though, takes another turn where
it’s looking at the war from the emotional standpoint and in this tune
you’ll hear that there’s a sentimentality that we don’t put in
songs anymore, and you can hear that the song is a little bit dated but that
doesn’t take away at all from the emotion of the song. Sending a son off to
war and what happened so. Adam Bouyamourn is going to be singing “God Be With Our Boys
Tonight,” lyrics by Fred Bowles and a English
composer Wilfrid Sanderson. And now another tune that was well-known
during this time period. It was, again, the sentimentality of home and thinking
of these soldiers and coming home and having them come back to what they knew
and what they felt comfortable with. You were talking about how people were
homesick, and this was a song that sort of dealt with that. Another one of the
most popular tunes. And the other interesting thing about this is that not
only was it a popular song to buy and to play in the home, but also there is
starting to become these beautiful things called recordings, and recordings
starting to also enter in to the home. And this is, “Keep The Home Fires Burning,”
and this is sung by Dalton Fowler. So, Adam’s going to sing a song of the
time period, and I ask you that as you’re looking at the exhibit to find this
piece, and it is called “When The Band Plays Yankee Doodle.” Now, in researching
this, I found that there was a “When The Band Plays Yankee Doodle Doo,” it’s not
this song, or “When The Band Plays Yankee Doodle in Berlin,” which again that’s not
this song, but what this is is a song about patriotism, and it’s just a
romp, and there’s a lot of text, so we’re going to have as much fun as we
possibly can. This is the end of the selection, so thanks again for listening.