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The Stars and Stripes

Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Analyzing how The Stars and Stripes Contributed to Morale

Illustration of a soldier reading a letter

"That letter from home," The Stars and Stripes, September 13, 1918, page 1,How would drawings like this one contribute to morale?

The mission of The Stars and Stripes was to "strengthen the morale of the troops" and to provide troops "with a sense of unity and an understanding of their part in the overall war effort." The last issue of the paper quoted General Pershing's assessment of the paper's success:

"THE STARS AND STRIPES . . . has been an important factor in creating and supporting the excellent morale which has at all times characterized the American Expeditionary Force."

From "Stars and Stripes Is Hauled Down with This Issue," The Stars and Stripes, June 13, 1919, page 1, column 2.

Make a list of factors that you think would contribute to the morale of troops fighting overseas. For example, believing that they are fighting for something important and knowing that their fellow Americans support their efforts are generally considered to be important to military morale. You may want to do some research to find out what military psychologists say about factors contributing to troop morale. Make a three-column chart like the one shown below. In the first column, write the four factors contributing to troop morale that you think are most important. Next, select and read three different issues of The Stars and Stripes. As you read, look for examples of stories, illustrations, or poems that you believe would develop each factor among soldiers. Record these stories in the chart and make some notes about your reasoning. One example is shown in the chart below.

Factor Contributing to Troop Morale Story that Develops Factor Reasoning
Common purpose "33 More War Waifs Adopted as Mascots by American Units," April 12, 1918 issue, page 1 Soldiers "adopting" French orphans are united in helping others and showing respect for their French comrades; also, by planning for the orphans' future, they are showing hope for a positive future after the war.

Based on your analysis, which factors did The Stars and Stripes address best? Were there any factors it did not address well? Why do you think that is true?