Historical Research Capabilities: Analyzing Censored Documents
While the editors and reporters for The Stars and Stripes had what might be considered a surprising degree of freedom to gather and publish information, the paper was subject to military censorship. According to the Special Presentation "A Closer Look at The Stars and Stripes"
"Each Tuesday, the Army's Board of Control and its General Headquarters examined the content proposed for the forthcoming issue. Approved articles had to support the mission of the newspaper, maintain high morale, and promote the idea that the war was for a 'just cause,' while publishing as much news as possible. In addition, news reports were vetted by the censorship-of-the-press section of the Military Intelligence Service, headed by Major Frederick Palmer, formerly of the Associated Press. Facts regarding general engagements, casualties suffered, and troop identifications were released only if the information had been reported in official communiqués."
Analyzing primary sources requires a critical frame of mind. Many sets of questions for analyzing primary sources are available. For example, the Library of Congress Teachers Page includes a helpful set of "Questions for Analyzing Primary Sources." Primary sources that may have been censored at the time they are created pose special challenges. What do you think those challenges might be? Think about what you have learned about the purpose of The Stars and Stripes and the censorship process. If you were writing a report about the role of the A.E.F. in World War I, could you rely on The Stars and Stripes as your only source of factual information? Why or why not? What other types of sources would be useful?