Category Archives: Project-based Learning

Final Class Work on Hello Girls

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Signal Corps class, 1918 Hartford

Throughout the early part of our research when we were learning different stories in the commemoration process of WWI, the term “Hello Girls” story did not dominate the historic landscape.  We then looked back at our serious and insightful sources such so far but did not find a mention of these heroes. We first discovered these heroic young women through a book titled The Hello Girls by Elizabeth Cobbs. It was a great book and we furthered that research by trying to discover more information online. We reached out to the twittersphere to see if anyone had any lists of the members from Connecticut. No one had anything, and the UCONN archives reached out and gave us an image of a training class for these female operators. We then pooled all of our information together and added it to our presentation. After our presentation, we found a whole newspaper full of these brave women’s stories. We also discovered that the WWI Musuem curated a presentation that Elizabeth Cobbs delivered. Viewing her lecture became a homework assignment the next night: https://www.theworldwar.org/visit/upcoming-events/women-at-war-hello-girls

We primarily focused on three Connecticut girls; however, we first wanted to understand the conditions and what it was like to be a Hello Girl. Usually the majority of the French speaking Volunteers went to France, which meant they all had to speak the language fluently. Women did not have prior experience with telephones and only had one month to train; however, many felt they would need three months to be fully prepared. The idea of the Hello Girls was to connect people as quickly as possible. Many women also had to learn the abbreviation language Taylorism, which was a quick and snappy way to get messages relayed quickly. Taylorism was also used in the U.S at factories to speed up manufacturing and labor. WWI first time women had a large role in war. Men who held these jobs were seen as rude and impatient with people, while women were more caring and understanding.

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Aurelie Austen, a “Hello Girl”, standing in uniform.

We also learned some valuable information from The New York Times. These impressive women had much more vigorous duties and responsibilities than we originally had thought. Some things that the women had to do were wear a standard uniform that was approved by the War College at all times. When they were fighting for their recognition as veterans in the 1970’s they used this argument. Also, if they were captured while in uniform they would become prisoners of war and were not just considered civilians.  They also had to understand French well and translate messages correctly and quickly, and finally sleep in cramped conditions and sometimes even on the roofs of buildings. A common argument was that women were still civilians, but since they wore uniforms at all times Mark Hough said these women were called prisoners of war, which means they were technically soldiers and should have been recognized a lot earlier.

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Image of Beatrice Savard in a special ceremony from the Hartford Courant

Our first Hello girl was Beatrice P. Savard or maiden name Bourneuf was born on March 11, 1891, in Haverhill, MA and was a Signal Corps Telephone Operator in WWI. In the departure papers that we observed, Beatrice was shown as a supervisor in the Signal Corps and residing in New London, CT. Beatrice and a select group of other women were also a special Signal Corps operator in France during WWI. Sixty-two years after the war on May 29, 1980, Beatrice was given a victory pin, honorable discharge papers, and officially became Connecticut’s first female veteran from WWI in a special ceremony. “They told us within a year or two after it was signed [the armistice] we would be getting discharges,” Beatrice said, “It finally happened. It was a great affair.” Beatrice died two years later on June 11, 1982, in Waterford, CT.
Our next Hello Girl was Mildred Wakefield, a resident of Connecticut who joined the signal corps. She was a graduate of Wellesley College class of 1913. While at Wellesley she learned about the Hello Girls through the school newspaper. Before joining the Hello Girls, she was an english teacher at East Hartford High School. She was 23 when she joined the Signal Corps, and that made her the youngest girl in the unit. To enter the Signal Corps she had to pass a rigorous examination which was impressive for her to do at such a young age. She then became a cadet in the signal corps. After the war she went back to teaching at East Hartford High School. It was very interesting to learn about someone that was so close to Suffield that was involved in this unit. Through this information we took the bare minimum that we knew and we tweeted out to Connecticut Historical Society and Wellesley College to see if they had any more information about Mildred Wakefield. To confirm our information before tweeting out to these organizations, we looked Mildred Wakefield up on Ancestry.com, which is a very valuable resource. Through Ancestry we found that her father was from Maine, which contradicted some other information that had said he was from Canada. Due to finding that all other family members matched up with our information, we concluded that due to people taking a census during this time, people might lie about some of their information to avoid any conflict with the government. This is why a lot of information from the census is not completely accurate. She was a very interesting person to learn more about considering we found so much information instantly on her through ancestry.

Out last Hello Girl was Elizabeth Roby. We could only find a single document that contained information on Elizabeth Roby and her life as well as her role in the company. Although we could only attain a single source in an old newspaper bulletin, we found out she had the role of the assistant to the head of the department in Chicago and was an instructor for the telephone company, as well as being a Smith College graduate with a specialization in French. This would have meant she was very useful for the Hello Girls and might have had a higher position and duty with her knowledge of French.

Source: http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A199708048

For more on Taylorism, see a Tweet from the UConn Archives: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl/status/993831353966911490

Blog post byline:   okinne88, CHASE M Rory Tettemer bensylvester8dylanchase62400freemmylessedleyb1617

 

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Suffield Academy’s Presentation to Suffield Historical Society

The American Studies class presented highlights from their fifteen week investigation about the history of Suffield’s homefront during WWI at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society.The program was also open to the public, and attendees entered the room hearing popular songs of the era, including the 1915 hit, “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier” as well as the iconic rally cry written just after our entry into the war in 1917, “Over There,” by George M. Cohan. The class presented over 130 slides of information, many of which were archival materials from Suffield Academy and the Suffield Historical Society. While many in the audience knew a good deal about the evening’s topic, many of the seniors wrote in their reflective writing assignments that they “enjoyed presenting to the Historical Society because this was a topic that they were interested in and they were able to learn new things from us.” Working together as teammates in a project-based learning environment, the students engaged well with the community audience and appreciated most the question and answer period and further discussions over refreshments. Please add your reaction to comment section on this post, and the class will get back to you with a response.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMMany in the class play varsity sports, and Myles leveraged that spirit and stepped up to be a captain on the spot by helping everyone focus and leading the introduction gracefully. His contributions about Connecticut culture and the role of Connecticut manufacturing elicited great dialogue after the presentation. His insights about the anti-war movement, in particular about Carl Sandburg’s contribution to the peace movement was appreciated. Later in the presentation while he was elucidating trends in propaganda posters, Ben Sylvester also explained how the two above songs served as cultural markers that showed first the country’s stance for isolationism and then the spirit to enter the war and fight “Wilson fight for democracy.” Each student also conducted family research to how many ancestors were involved in WWI, and Senior Sedley Benitz pursued research similar to her ancestors’ services, such as ambulance driving and nursing. Along with researching espionage, a topic related to his own family research, Rory Tettemer also pursued important Connecticut history topics such as the 1920s census, the 1916 election, and the sinking of the Lusitania; the closest figure to Suffield from the event turned out to be one the heroines, Theodate Pope. Chase Moran adroitly explained how partisan politics polarized Wilson’s neutrality stance throughout the early years of the war against a strident national preparedness movement. While many in town knew that Suffield Academy was called Suffield School during WWI, they learned how Suffield School was one of the first schools in the area to order uniforms for students and have experienced officers conduct military training exercise. After Michael Burch explained how Sgt. Stubby (now a motion picture), was the first war dog in the history of the American Military, he shared the campaign that he, Rory, and Chase helped launched on Twitter (#BringStubbyHome) to request from the Smithsonian that Stubby be installed during this commemoration year in a Connecticut Museum. Michael explained how much the class learned of the request protocol of the Smithsonian Museums from their thoughtful response and how the campaign enhanced our Twitter network among Connecticut historians. He then illuminated how the class discovered an unwritten Connecticut chapter of history regarding the new national history being written about the “Hello Girls,” the untold story about America’s first female soldiers who were telephone operators along the front lines organized by the Signal Corps. While Owen shared narratives regarding the manufacture history of Connecticut and the national economy during the second decade of the twentieth century, he also explained his original research regarding data about an African-American enclave in Suffield from 1900-1930s. Using Stacey Close’s thesis from the seminal work, African-Americans Connecticut Explored, the class followed Rory’s insight to delve into Suffield’s 1920 census records as Professor Close explored Simsbury’s 1920’s census records to illuminate Great Migration trends in Simsbury. Owen reported the significant results when the class tested Professor’s Close’s thesis. Since the presentation, the class hopes to publish more content on this chapter later in the month on the classroom blog. Along with explaining the complex causes of WWI as well as each significant turn at the Battle of Seicheprey, Connecticut’s finest day in WWI, Dylan Chase leveraged his past courses on presentations and digital mediums and communicated some of our most challenging topics with clarity and confidence. On his reflection prose he appreciated the experience to share our learning in an authentic setting with an audience who turned the questions period into an engaging dialogue. Dylan was a great academic ambassador during the subsequent conversations that occurred over refreshments. Dylan’s reflection prose also captured the spirit of the night as the class had not had the time because of our recent schedule to rehearse the whole presentation in one setting. “I really enjoyed the presentation and getting the chance to be a part of a class that worked so well collectively. Everything really came together last night, and I can speak for everyone when I say I’m proud of our work.”

Social Media Sources “Over There” For #CTHistory!

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 10.31.47 PMAs we prepare for our public presentation for the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society, we are also keeping an eye on social media sources “over there” for the upcoming events at Seicheprey. This is such an important anniversary for Connecticut History. #CTHistory! During this battle, the German army sent special stormtroopers over the top and attacked the American line here in this quiet sector to see what type of fighting force the inexperienced American were. After getting knocked out of the trenches by the Germans, the Americans successfully re-established themselves in the trenches, which began by the cooks takings meat cleavers and fighting the Germans back with hand-to-hand combat. Back in December when we read about the battle, we researched some of the men from Suffield who were in the 102nd or the Yankee Division, and we all were shocked and awed by the fact that William Habikai from Suffiled was listed in the records as being a cook!

Here is a list of social media sources that we are following to help us appreciate the significant battle of Seicheprey in real time back here in Connecticut. Do you have others to suggest? The text, When Connecticut Stopped The Hun, is available online from several libraries. If you have any suggestions, please add that content to the “comment” thread incorporated with this post.

Our #PBL class also enlisted the help of one of our French I classes to help us with researching sources on the French language landscape. They are helping us out on the “left flank” or here “in the trenches” if you appreciate how war idioms infiltrate our daily language. The latter “in the trenches” still seems to be alive and well in the modern vernacular. They will be researching and reading media and cultural materials in French for us so that we can appreciate the French dimension of this Commemoration period.

Do you have other sources to suggest we add to our list? Please comment below with a link and a few words explaining the value of the source. A #PBL thanks in advance for your contributions!

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Join Our Inquiry into Women’s History

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.07.33 PMWhat famous Connecticut women made history in your community? Who is making history now? What significant woman’s contributions to your community history has been overlooked? Forgotten? Undervalued? Start researching and writing about your local history. We will plan to do the same research and share research methods when we published our discoveries on this CAISCT PBL blog. Bill Sullivan’s class will also be putting on a community presentation to the town’s historical society in April of 2019 where the students will share what they learn and show how they learned it. In some ways, CAISCT students and teachers can find their own venues to add more depth of authenticity to the way they share their local history discoveries with their community. Perhaps it is best to consider this work as another form of service learning.

Curious about using a classroom blog and student-operated Twitter account to accommodate project-based learning? Plan to join our day hike for the 2018-19 academic year and dive into this authentic, local history challenge. Any CAISCT learner is welcome to collaborate on the CAISCT-PBL blog and Twitter account. So provide your students the opportunity to write history and appreciate the discipline form another perspective. They will soon learn that Connecticut’s history is complex, and one ingredient of our historic inquiries acknowledges that a local history perspective will CAISCT learners shed a new light in the historiography of Connecticut’s narratives. Lisa Leveque from Rectory School and Bill Sullivan from Suffield Academy will share their students’ learning experiences while working on one blog during the 2016-17 academic year in which they investigated freedom and slavery in the pivotal year of 1774 as well as the 2017-18 academic year, which pursued homefront issues of WWI.

Bring your day hike bag and learn about next year’s inquiry into Women’s history and set your students on an adventure course where they explore possible nominees for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in their community. http://cwhf.org/induction-ceremony/induction-process#.WvxbmNMvzaY

Suffield Academy Students Present: WWI Homefront

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMWhen the American Studies class began its investigation in December with a trip to the Suffield Academy archives, students were very curious to find young students one hundred years ago were wearing military uniforms. After researching our local and national history, the students are ready to share insights about the preparedness movement in Suffield, the region, and nationwide to help explain how Suffield School (now Suffield Academy) was one of the first schools in the area to start such a military prep program that provided students military uniforms and training. While following the research methods of Connecticut Historian, Stacey K. Close, the American Studies students used his chapter in African American Connecticut Explored as a model to look for patterns of the Great Migration here in Suffield. Close’s chapter, titled “Black Southern Migration and the Transformation of Connecticut, 1917-1941,” centers around migration trends in Simsbury. Please join us to learn how the American Studies students discovered similar patterns in Suffield. The class will present during the Suffield Historical Society meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday night, April 24th, 7-8pm at the Suffield Senior Center on 145 Bridge St, Suffield, Ct. Finally, like everyone in Connecticut who is excited to learn about the story of Sargent Stubby and see the newly released film, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, find out about four of the WWI veterans from Suffield who served in the famous 102nd of the Yankee Division, alongside “Stubby,” the first service or therapy dog. For more on the movie that was just released, click here: http://www.stubbymovie.com/

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The Government’s Tight Grip

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.34.43 AMMedia censorship was heavily seen in the war effort. The media could only report on a fraction of what actually happened in the war. Once the U.S entered the war, the government began to tighten its hold over what was said to the public. The U.S needed to make sure it could produce enough soldiers for war, and when the draft came out, some were skeptical if everyone would continue to support. If chosen anyone would have to fight and possibly die in war. In order to counter these many anti-war ideas, media sources were either terminated or forced into changing sides to support the war. People who promoted any anti-war ideas were fined heavy amounts and possibly even arrested.

In Connecticut, people could really see a crackdown in Bridgeport. Bridgeport was one of the U. S’s biggest exporters of war, and keeping those workers in the dark about the horrors of war was something the government worried about. The U.S did not directly come out with the idea of censorship but rather tried to use wordy language to try and confuse people to not quite understand what the Government means. This was because it violated the first amendment and was seen in Suffield, Connecticut by the lack of newspaper articles talking about war, and more specifically what was happening overseas.

Wilson had two major concerns. One being the abrupt change to pro-war might lead to some confusion and anger in the population and by silencing the media. The second reason is if the people were told about what was really happening, Wilson feared the people of America would be angry with him. The response he might have endured from the people could crumble the war effort around him. Wilson was so nervous of a possible revolt, he “prepared a bill authorizing the president to censor the press. (Wilson) himself declared this to be absolutely essential.”(Meyer, Source 1) Wilson had to manipulate the American people to get excited about the war by going as far as staging robberies and damaging property. He then claimed the attacks were from the Germans. It got so intense once the war was underway, a man was sent to prison for calling the war foolish. Things like this happened all throughout the war. Once the war was coming to end Wilson’s administration actually liked the idea of media censorship and the tight hold they had on the American people. Luckily this was stopped by the House of Representatives, and this censorship was lifted. This Censorship on the American people also raise an interesting question, “How much of the information we know today about the war was true?”

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These two images portrayed the Germans as beasts and promoted liberty bonds, which directly helped fund the government’s war effort.

Sources:

1: http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/03/that-time-in-wwi-america-when-censorship-was-legal/

This talked directly about Wilson and his plans to continue to censor the media and keep the firm grip the government had on the people even after war.

2: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/censorship

This gave some background as to what the censorship was and how harsh it became.

3: https://revisionworld.com/gcse-revision/history/world-history/world-war-one-1914-1918/propaganda-censorship

This was more on the shift of the nation and how tight the hold of the government was on the American People.

Walking Tour of Campus & Village

In an attempt to appreciate our local place more, we walked to various sites that we have researched in detail for the last ten weeks. While we are focussing on the homefront during WWI, we also took time to consider Suffield’s history from the time the first colonials carved up the home lots as well as how the land was used. This long look back over Suffield history was inspired by the great lengths Suffield celebrated its 350th birthday in the fall of 1920. We are dwelling on this moment because it will help us understand Suffield’s post war attitudes as well as its response to the Influenza outbreak. See this book for more details on the celebration: https://archive.org/details/celebrationoftwo00suffie

With that in mind, we observed how the old town hall in the center of town and the installation of the Bronze Tablets were significant moments for making memory in 1920. We then saw how our modern war memorial utilizes these bronze tablets from the old town hall and honors other 20th century veterans. Moreover, when we focused more on the town green’s four centuries of history, we observed how the first two centuries of colonial use took advantage of the high ground and well worn Native American path. The current home locations and shape of the town green also revealed how these colonial residents utilized the “common lands” for domestic animals and probably shared overseeing these animals while they took turns working the narrow and long fields behind their houses. Our common knowledge of the 19th century image of the town green with the couple strolling under shade trees helps us image that century’s appreciation of the space. (This image hangs in several rooms at Suffield Academy, including my classroom.) When we paused on the late nineteenth century installation of the Civil War memorial and how it does not list the 35 members of the 29th regiment that are listed on the bronze tablets, we realized how this was a new chapter of town green for honoring veterans would continue in the 20th century. What patterns do you see in your New England town center? #CAISCT learner join our blog and share what you learn.