African American Officers The pilots Riveters doughboys with mules pilots in dress uniforms Mule Rearing African American Soldiers 1 gas masks

The WWrite Blog

Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.

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 Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.
 by Connie Ruzich

 CotterJrAfrican American WWI soldier posing in Front of mockup of American flag. Courtesy Stars and Stripes.

Although a citizen of the United States, the black man is regarded by the white American as an inferior being with whom relations of business or service only are possible.  The black is constantly being censured for his want of intelligence and discretion, his lack of civic and professional conscience and for his tendency toward undue familiarity. The vices of the Negro are a constant menace to the American who has to repress them sternly.”

—“Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops,” sent August 7, 1918 from Colonel J.L.A. Linard with the A.E.F. to the French Army. Later published by W.E.B.  DuBois in the Crisis, May 1919, pp. 16-18.

Cotter2Portrait of James Seaman Cotter, Jr. 

Over 350,000 black Americans were inducted into the American Army during the First World War, but units were strictly segregated by race, and black soldiers were assigned to hard labor and low status jobs (such as the grave digging, exhumation, and reburial work of the war). Few black units saw combat; an exception were the units who were assigned to the French military, where they fought with bravery and distinction. In the American Army of the First World War, racism was not only accepted, but often enforced. 

Read more: Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.

A Common Language for Suffering and Healing: Greek Tragedy, Contemporary Veterans, and WWI.

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An Interview with Theater of War's Bryan Doerries

 DoerriesBookTOW

Theater of War: With over 600 performances and still counting, Theater of War represents one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever brokered between artists and the Department of Defense. This public health project uses dramatic readings of seminal ancient Greek plays and community conversations to confront topics such as combat-related psychological injury for U.S. Military Veterans. Using theater to build a common vocabulary for openly discussing the impact of these issues, events are designed to generate compassion, empathy, and understanding between diverse audiences. All events are free to the public and feature leading film, theater, and television actors. Bryan Doerries is a Brooklyn-based writer, translator, and director is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. This year, he was named Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. During this two-year residency, he will bring more than 60 Theater of War Productions projects to diverse communities across all five boroughs.

The WWrite Blog was lucky enough to spend some time talking to Bryan Doerries about the ways in which Theater of War might enlighten us about the experience of WWI soldiers and military personnel throughout the Centennial year.

elizabeth marvel as ajax 2Elizabeth Marvel reads Ajax at Women in Military Service for America Memorial, June 2011. Photo credit Theater of WarWWrite: What was it that influenced to take up the Theater of War project? Did you know anyone serving in the military growing up? Family or friends?

Bryan Doerries: No. I didn’t know anyone on active duty certainly. I didn’t really know much about military culture. I had grown up in Hampton Roads, Virginia and although I was surrounded by military culture, I grew up in this rarified academic bubble and was mostly untouched during the Cold War. This was despite the massive growth that took place in the area as it was one of the epicenters of military activity in the country. Yet I felt kind of distant from it. In principle, I was in support of veterans but ideologically against military conflicts. When the invasion of Iraq was imminent, I marched in the streets against it in New York City and it felt kind of ineffectual, like I wasn’t doing much.

Read more: A Common Language for Suffering and Healing: Greek Tragedy, Contemporary Veterans, and WWI.

Champagne, "champagne," and World War I by Marsha Dubrow

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Champagne, "champagne," and World War I by Marsha Dubrow

"On this land of Champagne where we drink the happiness, we lost so many families to war."  

-- Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, President of Champagne Taittinger.  

PartrodgefochchampageThe caption to the original reads "Very much up." Cartoon by Bernard Partridge depicting the French and Americans hitting back at the Germans in the Champagne counter offensive in July 1918. Foch was the French commander-in-chief of the Allied armies, as the name on the bottle label indicates. The soldier hit is German. Copyright Punch Limited.

During the second year of World War I, the French National Assembly voted to send champagne, the bubbly, celebratory drink, as a morale booster to troops and military hospitals on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Champagne, the French region and source of the world's most elegant wine symbolizing celebration and peace, was amassing severe wounds as a key geographical strategic point on the front lines of WWI's Western Front.

champagne"Of all the terrible moments in Champagne's long history, none was more catastrophic than World War I.  It was Champagne's darkest hour," wrote Don and Petie Kladstrup in Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed over War and Hard Times.

Read more: Champagne, "champagne," and World War I by Marsha Dubrow

Deadline September 4th! Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy, University of Kansas

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Using Congressional Collections to Engage with WWI: Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy at KU, Lawrence

By Audrey Coleman, Assistant Director/Senior Archivist, Dole Institute of Politics

ArmenianGenocideDeported Armenians marching through the Syrian Desert to concentration camps during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916

Archival Fellow for Armenian Advocacy
Attention! This application deadline is next Monday, September 4, 2017!
It is hard to believe that, as barbarous battles raged on the Western and Eastern Fronts, another, different human atrocity was committed by Ottoman authorities and Young Turks around the geographical region of modern-day Turkey: the Armenian Genocide. To understand the Armenian Genocide and its place in WWI better, The Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive & Special Collections at the Dole Institute of Politics*, University of Kansas in Lawrence, is pleased to announce a special fellowship opportunity for the 2017-2018 programming year: the  Archival Fellow for Armenian Advocacy.

Read more: Deadline September 4th! Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy, University of Kansas

Contribute, Share, Teach: All About the WWrite Blog

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Contribute, Share, Teach: All About the WWrite Blog

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Do you want to contribute to WWrite? Know someone who could write an awesome post? Want to get students to post or use as a resource? Want to put in requests for topics or themes? Have any comments or suggestions? If you've said yes, then you will want to read what's next: all about the WWrite Blog.

What is the WWrite Blog?

dulcemanuscript"Dulce et Decorum Est" Manuscript by Wilfred OwenWWrite is a blog sponsored by the World War I Centennial Commission that features both emerging and established writers from all genres who want to help expand and modernize WWI’s complex and abandoned memory in the United States and in the world. WWrite posts a new contribution every 1-2 weeks and provides a weekend update on writerly WWI news 1-2 times per month. With 8,000 subscribers (and growing everyday!), the blog enjoys a diverse readership, which includes, among others, teachers, students, other writers and artists, scholars, military personnel, engineers, scientists, doctors, nurses, chefs, government officials, and business owners. For a more in-depth description click here and here. To access the blog, click here.

Read more: Contribute, Share, Teach: All About the WWrite Blog

"I died in Hell - they called it Passchendaele." WWrite Weekend Update for August 6th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. Centennial WWI Site

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 Mud and the Poets of Passchendaele, Latest Contributors, and Next Week's Post

mud soldier statue London Battle of Passchendaele 832942The Mud Soldier, a sculpture made from Flanders mud to commemorate Passchendaele*

Latest 2 Posts: If you haven't checked out WWrite in a while, here's a quick look at the last 2 posts:

HindLudne1. August 8th: The Short Story Behind a Photo: This post gets inside the mind of the enemy.  Benjamin Sonnenberg writes from the point of view of two of the most important WWI German Generals—Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff— who commiserate over a failed military operation. The story's inspiration? The photo to the left.

STfigurines2. Journalist Tweets WWI to French YouthWho says World War I doesn't interest the youth of today? With over 12,000 people following her blog and Twitter feed, this is the question leading a young French journalist's work that strives to give a fresh face to WWI using social media. In her post, France24'sStéphanie Trouillard tells us about her personal and professional passions driving her innovative historical writing project. And a special bonus! She's shared part of her Twitter feed from Bastille Day in Paris, where she covered President Trump meeting French President Emmanuel Macron to commemorate the centenary of the United States' entry in WWI. A great up-close look at this important day!

Read more: "I died in Hell - they called it Passchendaele." WWrite Weekend Update for August 6th: This Week's...

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