The pens of American historians during World War I :instruments of patriots or professionals?



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Purpose: The intention of this thesis was to study the propagandist activities of American historians during World War I by examining (1) the sentiments among historians concerning their wartime activities; (2) the extent to which scientific methodology was abandoned; (3) the professional status of those historians engaged in propaganda: and (4) the repercussions the historians' activities had on their personal careers as well as upon the profession itself. Methods: The methodology employed included (1) the consultation of general works on propagandist activities in the United States during World War I; (2) the analysis of the historians' work in the Red, White, And Blue Series, the War Information Series, and in the field of public education; and (3) the evaluation of the historians' adherence to scientific research methodology. Findings: 1. there were three organized groups of historians during World War I -- the National Security League, the National Board for Historical Service, and the Committee on Public Information. Each of these associations disregarded scientific research methodology at times-- some more frequently than others. 2. The historians associated with the National Security League were alarmist in their attempt to arouse the attention of Americans for military preparations as early as 1914. For this reason the United States government viewed their activities with disdain. 3. The function of the National Board of Historical Service was to serve as the ' watch- dog'' for the maintenance of scientific research methodology. However, even this organization contributed to the distortion of history in the field of public education. 4. The Committee on Public Information historians considered the task of promoting patriotism and reassuring Americans of the honorable intentions of the United States participation in the way as their main priority, rather than abiding by scientific research methodology. Their adherence to this propagandist philosophy, however, was only temporary, and it dissolved with the end of the war. 5. The non-scientific research methodology of historians was not detrimental to their individual careers, with the exception of Samuel B. Harding. Other historians who engaged in the propagandist endeavors, such as Guy Ford, James Shotwell, Andrew McLaughlin, Wallace Notestein, Claude Van Tyne, and Carl Becker became prominent in their discipline. 6. The propagandist activities of historians’ were significantly detrimental to the profession. This was because many other disciplines were also engaged in propaganda work. Also, the revisionist historians' reprimand of their colleagues' activities restored the discipline's professionalism by re-emphasizing the importance of scientific research methodology. 7. Historians generally were not ashamed of their wartime activities nor were they boastful. Guy Ford, Claude Van Tyne, and Albert Hart on the contrary were very defensive about their war-oriented work.



Propaganda, American., World War, 1914-1918--Propaganda., Historians--United States.