KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ When the Great War started in the summer of 1914, a school teacher in the Montmartre district of Paris asked his students, boys ages 8-13, to write essays and express in drawings how the war affected their daily lives.
The children produced hundreds of drawings and essays reflecting on the changing nature of the war, political leaders, letters to their relatives on the front line, and daily food rationing. Despite these changes, the students still went to class, did their homework, and continued their lives as normally as possible.
For the first time, a portion of these drawings will be available for public viewing in the special exhibition” Vive l’Amérique! French Children Welcome Their American Ally,” opening Tuesday, March 21. The exhibition showcases 30 drawings and two essays on loan to the Museum from Le Vieux Montmartre Historical Society.
“Vive l’Amérique! French School Children Welcome Their American Ally provides the opportunity to view tangible examples of children articulating and imagining how the United States entering World War I affected their lives,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial Archivist and Edward Jones Center Research Manager Jonathan Casey. “The symbolism within the drawings and the insights we gain into the mindset of these children is truly remarkable.”
The items predominantly focus on America entering the war, while other drawings depict the students playing war in the neighborhood, attending class, and one of an American relief organization’s workers serving meals to needy Parisians. The drawings also depict and emphasize the historical connection between France and America, dating to the American War of Independence and various expressions of the Franco-American alliance.
“Vive l’Amerique: French Children Welcome Their American Ally” will run from Mar. 21 – Oct. 15, 2017 in the Ellis Gallery.
To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.