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

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

Lobby display case photo

Valentine, Alfred, and H.A. Langslow. The Red Cross Girl. Rochester, NY: The Flower City Music, 1915.

The red cross girl, cover art

Few popular pieces from WWI depict women with any agency in their own lives. Often even women who choose to serve the war effort as nurses are described as “angels sent from heaven,” not brave individuals who choose their own path. This piece, however, gives women a bit more agency, describing the Red Cross nurses as “brave;” “amid the shot and shell;” and risking “her life for you upon the field.”

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Speroy, Robert, and Wilbur D. Nesbit. Let's Keep the Glow in Old Glory: and the Free in Freedom Too. Chicago: Frank K. Root & Co., 1918.

Let's keep the glow in old glory, cover art

This piece ties masculinity to militarism and patriotism, as well as to the domestic life. Its lyrics appeal directly to a sense of national pride, yet the cover evokes a sense of protecting one’s family as well as one’s nation by going off to war.

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Cohan, George M., and Louis Delamarre. Over There. Illus. R.S. New York: Leo Feist, 1917.

Over there, cover art

This WWI classic shows masculinity tied to a sense of glory to be won “over there” in the war. It calls for every “Johnny” to earn the pride of his father, mother, and sweetheart by standing in line.

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Parrish, G.W., and John McCrae. In Flander’s Fields. Illus. Jessie Roberts. Clarksburg, WV: G.W. Parrish, 1919.

In Flanders Fields

This piece sets the famous poem of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to music.

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Magine, Frank, and Joe Lyons. Don’t Be Anybody’s Soldier Boy But Mine. Chicago, IL: Ted Browne Music, 1918.

Don't be anybody's soldier boy but mine, cover art

So many popular pieces spoke to the anxieties of women left behind by their men. These include the death or disappearance of their beloved soldier, as well as their infidelity so far away from home.

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Nelson, Ed G., and Will J. Hart. When Yankee Doodle Learns to “Parlez Vous Francais.” Illus. Barbelle. New York: A.J. Stasny Music, 1917.

When a yankee doodle learns, cover art

Some popular pieces during World War I, such as this one depicted women as distractions from the horrors of war.

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Burtch, Roy L. Till Over the Top We Go. Indianapolis: Halcyon, 1918.

Till over the top we go, cover art

Some popular pieces depicted an exclusively militaristic masculinity, such as this piece does. Its lyrics, however, link militarism with the defense of liberty and democracy.

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Ball, Ernest R., and J. Keirn Brennan. You Can’t Beat Us: if it Takes Ten Million More. Illus. Walter M. Dunk. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1918.

You can't beat us, cover art

This piece explicitly ties masculinity to militarism and violence, with lines such as: “With a million Yankee hits/We’ll blow you into bits.”

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