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America, Here's My Boy: Gender in American Popular Music during World War I: Case 5

Case 5-Domestic Masculinity

Case 5 photo

These pieces represent the ways in which masculinity was tied to the home front and to the domestic sphere. The nation’s anxiety over sending their men overseas to battle resulted in an effort to connect masculinity to the home. Men were depicted as protecting the home, belonging to the home, engaged in domestic life on the front, and longing to return home.

Harris, Chas K. Break the News to Mother. New York: Chas K. Harris, 1897.

Break the news to mother, cover art

This piece depicts the close bond between soldiers to their mothers. The title, Break the News to Mother, implies that the last thought the soldier had before he breathed his last breath was of his mother. This idea is further fortified when the chorus begins with the soldier asking his fellows to tell his mother of his death and that “no other can take the place of mother” in his life.

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Vol Tilzer, Harry, and Eddie Moran. Keep The Trench Fires Going For The Boys Out There. Illus. E. H. Pfeiffer. New York: Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing, 1918.

Keep the trench fires going, cover art

Depictions of the soldiers sitting by campfires, writing letters, and thinking of their loved ones helped to show the importance of keeping up the patriotic spirit at the home in order to support the boys “over the foam.” On the side of the sheet music is an advertisement to conserve food because it would win the war.

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“1914-15…The sweetheart’s photo.” Postcard from the studio of Earnest Le Deley. Series 29.

Sweetheart's photo

Jacobs-Bond, Carrie, and Mary Norton Bradford. His Buttons Are Marked “U.S.” Chicago: Carrie Jacobs-Bond & Son, 1918.


His buttons are marked U.S. cover art

The title of this piece, His Buttons Are Marked “U.S.,” is a reference to the idea that the soldier’s child in the music understood the markings as their parent fighting for “us” and not necessarily the “U.S.” This implies that the soldier fights not only for the United States but for his home.

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Tracey, W.M. and Jack Stern. When I Come Back To You: We’ll Have a Yankee-Doodle Wedding. Illus. Barbelle. New York: Douglas & Newman Music, 1918.

When I come back to you

This piece exemplifies the idea of a soldier putting his life on hold to serve his country. Although he is doing his duty by serving overseas, he promises to remain true to his sweetheart and return to her after he has finished his service.

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Gottler, Archie, and Joe Burns and Arthur Fields. The Kiss That Made Me Cry. New York: Leo Feist, 1918.

The kiss that made me cry, cover art

This piece shows the connection between soldiers and their children. The Kiss That Made Me Cry shows that the soldier was able to say goodbye to his mother, father, wife, friends, etc., however, when he had to say goodbye to his child, it was the hardest for them to stomach.

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