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The Stars and Stripes

Popular Graphics

According to the Articles and Essays

"The Stars and Stripes used illustrations to communicate ideas, especially those aimed at justifying military goals and encouraging the troops' adherence to the war effort. . . . In many cases, the images selected by the editors would be considered propaganda by today's standards. . . . Besides expressing editorial opinion, cartoons entertained the troops, offering them humorous stories and images that satirized everyday life in the military."

The last issue of The Stars and Stripes featured a series of nine drawings by Private Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge, who was referred to in the paper as "the respectable half of the Art Department." The cartoons appeared under the heading "Pass in Review," with the caption indicating that they constitute "a graphic resumé of the Yanks from the days of the old trenches to the days of the watch on the Rhine."

Examine the nine Baldridge cartoons reprinted in the June 13, 1919, issue of The Stars and Stripes and answer the following questions:

  • How did these nine drawings reflect the reasons for U.S. entry into The Great War and the services performed by American "Doughboys"?
  • What symbols did Baldridge use in the drawings?
  • What emotions do you think Baldridge was trying to convey? What techniques did he use to convey these emotions?
  • How effective are such drawings in conveying a message? Give examples and reasons to support your answer.
  • Would you consider these drawings to be propaganda? Why or why not?

Private Abian "Wally" Wallgren, a cartoonist for the Philadelphia Public Ledger and Washington Post before the war, served with the Marines during the war. His cartoons, a regular feature in The Stars and Stripes, poked fun at army life, satirizing ridiculous military regulations to the delight of soldiers on the front. A series of his cartoons includes a panel entitled "Helpful Hints" including such warnings as, "Do not sneeze in your gas mask"; "Never become too familiar with an officer"; and "Never stop a shell with your helmet". Search the collection using the search term Wallgren to generate a list of the artist's irreverent and comical portrayals of military life, including a cartoon poking fun at "conchys" (conscientious objectors).

  • Why do you think Wallgren's cartoons were so well received by enlisted personnel?
  • Why do you think the Army allowed cartoons making fun of Army regulations to be printed in the paper? Do you think this was a wise decision?
  • What caricatures — depictions that exaggerate some aspect of a person's appearance for comic effect — did Wallgren use? How effective are caricatures in conveying a message?
  • In your opinion, what are the ingredients of a good cartoon? Use examples from Wallgren's cartoons to illustrate your answer.