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Sources and Strategies Recovering the Lost Voices of World War II
Broadening Student Understanding of Wartime Experience through Original Works of Art and Personal Accounts
Lee Ann Potter
Tracy A. Sugarman served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant, junior grade, in the European theater during World War II. During his years of service from 1942-45, in addition to writing letters home, he recorded his experiences through original artwork. His sketches and watercolor paintings, completed before, during, and after D-Day, with titles such as Small boat officer ; Cutting spuds for chow; Waiting for D-Day, LST 491 (featured in this article); and On the way to the LST 523 to pick up survivors (featured in this article), illustrate his fellow servicemen, activities, equipment, and experiences. Sugarman was not alone in capturing his wartime experience through artwork. Samuel Boylston, an aspiring illustrator, decorated the envelopes of letters sent home with humorous scenes of GI life during World War II. Joseph Parrino served stateside with the Army’s Signal Corps during the latter days of the Korean War and sketched both universal and unique experiences. Carl Fordahl’s official duties in Vietnam were as a draftsman and illustrator, but he also became a combat artist. Many of their creative works, along with additional ones drawn and painted by other American veterans are available online from the Veterans History Project (www.loc.gov/vets/). The works of art are included in digital collections with oral history interviews, photographs, correspondence, and other documents about the veterans and their service. Introducing students to these types of materials may broaden their understanding of wartime experience, and doing so in a “step-by-step” way can reinforce their ability to recognize the value of consulting multiple sources, in a variety of media, as they seek information on any subject. If you presented students with the following statement: All you need to create an accurate account of any historical event are history books, photographs, motion picture film, sound recordings, maps, newspapers, and magazines. and asked them if they thought anything was missing, chances are, they would identify additional resources that were not included. Hopefully, they would suggest works of art and personal accounts, such as diaries, journals, or oral histories. Encourage them to explain what information, or perspective, a work of art or a personal account might contribute to our understanding of the past that might be different from other sources. To do this, you may wish to lead a general class discussion evaluating various sources by asking what type of information they might learn from each, to what extent the information might be biased, and what information might be missing. Share with students the featured sketches by Tracy A. Sugarman and encourage students to speculate on when the images were created, by whom, and
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what titles they think the artist assigned to each. Allow students time to study each image, and direct them to discuss with a partner or in small groups the information each provides and what perspective each image suggests. Finally, ask students to generate a list of questions that the images prompt in their minds. (The Primary Source Analysis Tool available from the Library of Congress at www.
loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/ resources/Primary_Source_Analysis_Tool. pdf may be useful to students as they
analyze the sketches.) Next, tell students about Sugarman, and provide them with the following information about the sketches: • The first is titled Waiting for D-Day, LST 491. It was drawn on March 27, 1944. (www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003688710/); and • The second is titled On the way to the LST 523 to pick up survivors. The information on the back of it reads “Drawing shows two sailors in a small landing craft (LCVP) heading out to rescue sailors from tank landing ship LST 523 after an explosion during a storm in the English Channel, June, 1944.” (www.loc.gov/pictures/ item/2003690064/). Ask students to what extent this information changes their conclusions about the sketches, and encourage them to
LST 491. by Tracy A. Prints & Photographs Division. Used with permission of Gloria Sugarman) O c t o b e r 2 0 13 229 . Sugarman.Waiting for D-Day. Prints & Photographs Division. 1944 (Courtesy of Library of Congress. 1944 (Courtesy of Library of Congress. Sugarman. by Tracy A. Used with permission of Gloria Sugarman) On the way to the LST 523 to pick up survivors.
and for posterity • Form intergenerational bonds with veterans • Sharpen research skills through identifying veterans and reading about various wars and conflicts • Learn organizational skills in facilitating interviews and adhering to instructions • Use technical equipment for recording and duplicating interviews • Gain leadership experience in initiating. Through their participation.000 collections.and video-recorded interviews as well as original photographs. Students engaged dynamically through this process not only benefit by receiving experiential learning. Every veteran participant receives a summary page on the Library of Congress website. conduct veterans’ interviews to help VHP meet its congressional mandate. college. to participate. within the classroom • Highlight the importance of individual contributions to civic life • Allow students to participate in a substantive community service project that will become part of the public record Perpetual Benefits With the authentic learning models. VHP provides a rarely-found opportunity for students to learn directly from the source or expert (veteran). drama. VHP’s mission is to collect. Experiential Learning The Veterans History Project provides an ideal opportunity for students to engage in a hands-on learning activity and fulfill volunteer service-hour requirements while experiencing history like never before. writing. communications. and not competition. VHP has become the largest oral history archive in the nation. please visit www. and university educators use VHP to: • Engage in cooperative instruction as a vehicle for authentic learning that is relevant to students’ lives and the communityat-large • Help students master research. but also in English language arts. students: • Create primary source materials to be preserved at the Library of Congress for scholars. More than 12. letters. the name and affiliation of the person who conducted the interview and the contents of the collection.loc. journalism. S o c i a l E d u c at i o n 230 . Since its inception. but they also enjoy the reward of seeing their interviews included online and in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project collections. sociology.THe VeteRaNs HIstoRY PRoJeCt Robert Patrick The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP) in 2000 as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. go to www. illustrations. allowing anyone with Internet access to view or listen to entire collections online.loc. educators often use VHP as a means to reach content standards in. classroom credit.gov. Using the Veterans History Project’s straightforward guidelines. ans History Project. diaries and other personal documents of American veterans. For more information on the To search the Veterans History Project collections or to find out how to get your students education programs of the Library of Congress. researchers. including students in grades 10 and higher. High school. listening. from World War I through current conflicts. volunteers from across the nation. from the process itself and that students gain an important appreciation for veterans and their personal experiences in context to the students’ own. art and audio/visual techniques.500 VHP collections have been digitized to date. including audio. VHP offers and fosters an enhanced Robert Patrick is the director of the Vetereducational experience for which educators and students routinely express gratitude. with more than 87.gov/teachers/. and executing a plan • Manage administrative and legal forms Multidisciplinary Instruction A cross-disciplinary endeavor. and volunteer service hours.gov/vets or e-mail vohp@loc. preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. verbal and written communication skills • Develop students’ social skills • Foster students’ individual awareness • Create an atmosphere of teamwork. not just history. which provides information on his or her service history.
answered their questions. hearing an enemy broadcast on the eve of the invasion”) available online at http://lcweb2.loc. afc2001001. tell us about your experience! During the week of November 11. If your students are interested in additional images related to D-Day.loc. and 41 secs. g o v O c t o b e r 2 0 13 231 . and their textbook account. direct students to read the section from their textbook about D-Day and. or (2) sketch an image that illustrates how their understanding of D-Day changed with each source they were exposed to. with your students.loc. excerpt of the interview with Sugarman (“Preparing for D-Day.html. once again. climbing the Omaha Beach cliff”) available online at http:// lcweb2. j a m e s m a d i s o n .html.share their observations. or works created by the other artists mentioned in this article. or a variation of them. the Korean War (1950–1953). ask students how the information added to their understanding—or prompted more questions. Lee Ann Potter is the director of educational outreach at the Library of Congress.000 for graduate study Š Recognized as the most prestigious award in constitutional history for secondary teachers For more information.natlib. rather than discussing their conclusions. Transforming outstanding educators into constitutional scholars Š Fellowship awards up to $24.loc. If your students are interested in seeing examples of other materials included in the Veterans History Project collections related to World War I (1914–1918).gov/vets/stories/ex-war-artofwar.gov/pictures/. visit w w w. excerpt (“Offloading men onto Utah Beach. the Vietnam War (1965–1975). and serves as the editor of the Sources and Strategies feature. encourage them to conduct a search on “D-Day” in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog from the Library of Congress at www. ask students to either (1) sketch an image of D-Day that comes to their minds following exposure to the Sugarman sketches.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc. the interview. and 30 secs. Next. and the Persian Gulf War (1991).05440/video?ID=d20347e9991. the citation information.gov/exhibits/treasures/homefront-home. direct them to “The Art of War” section of the Veterans History Project at www.loc. Ask students to what extent watching and listening to the interview excerpts changed their analysis of the sketches.natlib. Finally. or provided them with additional information. direct students to watch the 4 mins. If you try these suggestions. gov/teachers/ will feature a post tied to this article and we invite you to comment and share your teaching strategies. Related Resources and Opportunities from the Library of Congress If your students want to see more works of art by Tracy A.gov/diglib/ vhp/story/loc.loc. Sugarman. and the 6 mins. World War II (1939–1945).05440/ video?ID=d20347e10008. invite them to explore the Library of Congress’s online exhibit From the Home Front and the Front Lines at www. But this time. the Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog at blogs. 2013.afc2001001.
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