New Questions, Archives, and Finding Aids
This past week has found me reworking my research questions and changing the core argument of my paper. Indeed, instead of focusing on agency as a major aspect of my paper, instead agency will come into play in only one section. I am also researching newspapers and advertising and the means by which dogs were used to boost civilian morale. Thus, some of my new research questions are: how were dogs presented to civilians during World War I? Why were dogs used to boost civilian morale?
While conducting research over the past few weeks, I have discovered a couple of newspaper archives that have been particularly useful for me. One is the online archive for the United Kingdom’s The Times. I found a plethora of World War I newspaper articles pertinent to my research paper in this particular archive. I have also stumbled upon America’s Historical Newspapers, an archive with historical newspapers from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, to name but a few. I have unearthed many successful newspaper articles in this archive as well. Fortunately, we live in a day and age when we can access such useful sources online and historians are no longer forced to painstakingly sift through old newspapers for hours at the local library. The convenience of these online newspapers is not lost on this historian. I am very grateful for such ease of access.
Prior to last week, I had never heard of a “finding aid.” Fortunately, I was able to quickly discover a finding aid that could be potentially useful to me. This finding aid accompanies a military collection of World War I papers and posters at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. It is quite detailed and I believe many of the artifacts it describes and contains will prove helpful in my research and the crafting of my research project.
February 13, 2015 @ 3:06 pm
Would the big question, then, be how/why were dogs used to boost morale during World War I? Both on and off the battlefield? Or is it how were dogs represented in news stories about World War I? and in answering that question are you interested in the ways that dogs/dog stories served as “happy” news in contrast to the horrors of battlefield stories? Maybe these questions raise the same issues??? Do you know if any gov. agency wrote the stories or planted them? The US propaganda agency was incredibly active once the US entered the war — sorry blocking on its exact title, but there are a bunch of books about the posters and other materials it produced.
Sounds like the newspapers are going to be a major source for you. Will be interested to hear you talk about how you are using them.
February 15, 2015 @ 10:01 am
Hi Dr. Jones,
I do think my “big” question is: how and why were dogs used to boost morale during World War I? But I am also certainly looking at how dogs were represented in news stories about World War I (particularly due to the number of pertinent newspaper articles I have found) and the means by which these stories served as “happy” news in contrast to the horrors of battlefield stories. I suppose I see all of these issues intertwined quite effortlessly. I am now tasked with figuring out how to articulate them all most effectively in my paper.
I do not know if any government agencies planted any stories but I will certainly look into that, what a great suggestion! Thank you!
February 15, 2015 @ 2:50 pm
Intertwined is probably the way to think about these ideas for the moment. Morale is an interesting concept, hard to pin down how/if soldiers, military leaders and the broader citizenry understood that word differently. The responses to dogs might give you some insight into how that word was used during World War I.
February 16, 2015 @ 12:05 pm
I see that our class last week definitely encouraged you to consider a new direction with your paper. While I think either central question would produce a thought-provoking project, I definitely am interested to see the ways in which dogs were used to boost morale!
Will your project include a brief analysis of the role dogs had in society at this point in time? I ask because it seems that the relationship that man has had with animals has changed a lot through time. This period is obviously after animal domestication but DEFINITELY before the dog-in-purse phenomenon courtesy of Paris Hylton. When did dog become “man’s best friend”? How did the relationship with dogs outside of war encourage their use for morale during war time?
February 16, 2015 @ 12:27 pm
Great questions! I am including a bit about the domestication of dogs. Prior to the late 19th century, dogs were seen as workers rather than pets (along with other animals). During the Victorian Era, dogs became household pets and when World War I began, dogs began to be seen as useful for the war effort. In fact, World War I is truly the first war in which dogs were used on a large scale for military purposes.
I really like your last question: “How did the relationship with dogs outside of war encourage their use for morale during war time?” I am definitely going to keep that question in mind and research a bit more into it.