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America, Here's My Boy: Gender in American Popular Music during World War I: Case 6

Case 6-Feminine Duty

Case 6 photo

Like men, women had certain duties they had to fulfill and sacrifices they had to make. Women were expected to raise brave soldiers, sacrifice their men to the war effort, remain loyal to their men, keep up the home, and embody all that was beautiful and good for which men were fighting.

Cormack, Rennie, George Burnham McConnell, and Al Dubin. Your Country Needs You Now. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1917.

Your country needs you now, cover art

Depicting a woman entreating her son to go to war, this piece implies both that it is the man’s duty to go to war and the woman’s duty to encourage him to do so. The piece includes lyrics entreating men to “shoulder arms,” and “fall in line,” and not to “be a slacker son.”

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Burke, Joe, and James E. Dempsey. If I Had a Son for Each Star in Old Glory: Uncle Sam, I’d Give Them All to You. Illus. R.S. New York: Leo Feist, 1917.

If I had a son for each star in old glory, cover art

This piece implies that being a good woman in America demands that one be willing to give their sons over to the war effort. Raising one’s son to be a soldier is the duty of every American mother.

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Mitchell, Sidney D., Archie Gottler, Theodore F. Morse, and A. Bollaert. Mother, Here’s Your Boy. New York: Leo Feist, 1918.

Mother here's your boy, cover art

This piece, published after the armistice of November 11th, 1918, rewards mothers for giving up their “pride and joy” to the war effort.

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Stanley, Jack, and Jessie Spiess. While You’re Over There in No Man’s Land, I’m Over Here in Lonesome Land. Illus. Starmer. Chicago: Will Possiter, 1918.

While you're over there..., cover art

In this song, the woman encourages her husband to “play your part in this fight” while she keeps “the home fires bright.” Despite her loneliness, this woman remains brave and true so her man can perform his duty to his country.

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Clayton, Will, and Lew Brown. Watch, Hope, and Wait Little Girl: ‘Till I Come Back To You. Illus. E. E. Walton. New York: Broadway Music, 1918.

Watch hope wait little girl, cover art

The title of this piece implores women to remain faithful and diligent for their man while he serves his nation overseas.

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Piantadosi, Al, and Louis Weslyn. Send Me Away With a Smile. New York: Al Piantadosi & Co., 1917.

Send me away with a smile, cover art

This song epitomizes the duty women had to their men and to their country during the war. The man singing entreats his sweetheart to be cheerful and encourage him on his way with a smile. He asks her to give him “words of cheer; To recall in time of pain.” Women were expected embody all things beautiful and good in order to encourage their men through the trials of war.

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