WW1 education and commemoration efforts reach from France to California
By Marissa Cruz
Vincent Bervas, professor of History and French and president of the Association of History Teachers and Geography for the Aisne territory in France, hosts a teaching program for young people. The focus is on educating students about World War I and includes a variety of unique activities.
Vincent Bervas (left) discusses aspects of his students' project at Belleau Wood with General Robert B. Neller, 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.Bervas is a resident of Château-Thierry, a city rich with history tied to the Great War. The city was on the front lines of the war and was the scene of significant events. Bervas serves as a member on the Centennial Château-Thierry committee, and is actively engaged in sharing the history of the region with young people.
The students are youth who face certain difficulties and otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in the unique programming Bervas hosts.
“The centenary of the Great War is a great opportunity for them to better know their region and its history,” explained Bervas. “It is also an opportunity to create beautiful projects with them.”
In 2013, he created a project, depths of field, focused on the photography technique of the same name. The students were able to develop a show in which they read letters, documents and also extracts from the Company K battalion, for example. To prepare for this show, the students visited many historical places. This project also included a plenoptics photography project where students took photos at Belleau Wood and Fort Condé.
Students have also produced a final show that took place in the battlefield at the Caverne du Dragon followed by a presentation at school attended by key representatives from the French Centennial Commission. These hands-on lessons offer an opportunity to actively engage in the history in the young people’s own backyards.
Read more: WW1 Education and Commemoration efforts reach from France to California
World War I: Bad Romance — Gibson’s Chilling Personification of War
By Katherine Blood
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
"The Weaker Sex" by Charles Dana GibsonIllustrator Charles Dana Gibson was already a celebrity when tapped in April 1917 to lead the federal government’s Division of Pictorial Publicity — an arm of Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information. He was enlisted by Committee head George Creel, who believed that visual art could provide a unique service in winning the hearts and minds of the American public. And not just any art — nothing less than the best art by the best artists was sought to bolster recruitment, fundraising, service by women and civilians and troop support in myriad forms including contributions for camp libraries. When Gibson famously urged fellow artists to “Draw ‘till it hurts!” in support of America’s war effort, he was addressing such luminaries as James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and Edward Penfield, to name just a few of the division’s more than 300 participants.
Among Gibson’s most enduring creations was the iconic Gibson Girl, who began appearing in the 1890s. She embodied the “New Woman” who was active and independent, intelligent and beautiful. But a very different kind of Gibson woman commanded my attention when I had the chance to co-curate the exhibition “World War I: American Artists View the Great War” with my colleague Sara W. Duke. In a vivid satire called “And the Fool, He Called Her His Lady Fair,” Gibson presents war as a woman who is an unsettling hybrid of menace and allure, the seeming antithesis of the fresh, youthful and wholesome Gibson Girl ideal.
Read more: World War I: Bad Romance — Gibson’s Chilling Personification of War