Educational experiences at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History aren’t just for kids. Educational programs are available for teachers, as well as guided tours, to help them in their professional development.
First call: American posters of the First World War
The enormous production of posters in the United States during and immediately after the First World War belies the late entry of this country into this conflict. Stimulated by the example of various European fighters, the creation and production of appropriate “pictorial advertising” quickly reached a high level of artistic involvement and industrial application. Thousands of designs have been created and most of them have been printed in large numbers. As a result, few of these posters are rare even today, and only a handful are categorized as “rare”. A large number of artists participated in the creation of posters. Some of them, like Howard Chandler Christy and James Montgomery Flagg, came to work with their reputations already earned through their commercial work in books, magazines, and advertising. Many artists, whether obscure or famous, contributed “free” to the war effort.
“First Call: American Posters of the First World War” is an educational program suitable for students in grades 4 to 12 who take a look at propaganda posters from the First World War. This program is offered on site at the Museum and as part of our awareness program. The “first call” includes lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, and hands-on experience with primary sources. Groups as large as 200 are acceptable for this program.
“First Call: American Posters of World War I” is funded by Mrs. Helen T. Leigh in memory of her husband, Lt. Col. Gilbert Leigh, of the US Air Force. The posters are from the Military History Collection at the MacArthur Museum in Arkansas.
Images of war posters for student analysis
Each of the four Freedom Borrowing Campaigns (two in 1917, two in 1918) and the Victory Borrowing Campaign of 1919, brought a wave of posters at the local and national levels. The Freedom and Victory Loan campaigns raised an estimated $ 30 billion and contributed significantly to the proliferation of the poster as an important communications medium for the war effort. Interestingly, despite the late entry of the United States into the war, this country produced more propaganda posters than any other country.
United war work campaign posters
The posters helped not only with the obvious aim of recruiting members for the armed forces, but with the parallel efforts on the home front embodied in various conservation efforts, such as the United War Work Campaign, the Red Cross and perhaps more particularly in the rapid subscription of the Loans of Liberty and Victory. Posters generally encouraged wartime savings and sought funds from the general public by endorsing War Bonds efforts.
In a war that created historical figures such as Robert E. Lee, US Grant, “Stonewall” Jackson, and others, “Remember Me” is a critical thinking activity that focuses on specific Arkansans during the Civil War. Each Arkansan has a unique and different story, with some more well-known than others.
The “Remember Me” lesson plan takes a closer look at these stories, examining how and why 150 years later, our society still feels the need to remember these people. However, what about those Arkansans whose stories are not told? To whom is not the likeness transformed into a bronze statue or a portrait hanging in a museum? Are their stories, trials and tribulations less than those our society has determined to be remembered? And how does this transcend in our culture and our society today?
In this activity, students will reflect on who they are commemorating and why, with the intention of exploring what makes a “hero” or person worth remembering.
The art of War
Explaining to students the emotions, turmoil, and aspects of warfare not only from a soldier’s perspective, but also from a society’s perspective, can be a difficult task. Textbooks tend to generalize the impact of war on a nation’s home front, a soldier’s family, a destroyed community, and the enemy. However, works of art can often represent the emotional burden of war experienced by those who actively participate in it.
Using various artistic mediums, such as photography, paintings, cartoons, and films, students can creatively explore wartime humanity. Through discussion and analysis of wartime photography, art as a memorial, and art made by warring soldiers, the Art of War lesson plan series provides students with an alternative to secondary source accounts of war and conflict.
Allison Collection of WWII Photography, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History Collection
- Future! Memorizing a War Hero Through Art: William F. Rector & David O. Dodd Lesson Plan
- Future! Art in the Trenches: Works of Art by Soldiers of WWI and WWII