by Monserrat Soria
On Friday, March 10th, my classmates and I had an amazing opportunity to go to the Newberry Library and work with real life documents from WWII. This opportunity only comes once in a lifetime, and I’m personally very grateful that I got to work with documents that were published during that time period. We all got to look through the documents in order to understand how race and gender were being expressed through the visual media during WWII. This experience would help us write our summative essays for our AP U.S. History class.
On this trip to the Newberry Library, I learned how important it is to honor all the historical documents because they have the power to teach people today how things were in the past and how much things have changed, or not! We worked with all different types of documents, such as magazines, song sheet music, books, and propaganda posters. All of these documents taught us how during WWII there were a lot of conflicts, but there were also a lot of successful things going on. One of the conflicts that was the most common was racism from Americans towards the Japanese, since they were seen as the enemy during the war. On the other hand, one success was that women had the opportunity to be more involved in supporting the war effort by taking on new military roles and job opportunities that were typically occupied by men.
While we were looking through the documents, the curators were very helpful in answering all the questions we had. It was an honor to be trusted with such historical documents, and it was an exciting opportunity that not everyone gets. An art history professor from DePaul was also there to help us understand more of what each document could tell us about WWII. Overall, it was a great experience that I will never forget, and I hope we can do more things like this in the future.