Adellard Barbeau, WWI Prisoner of War


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International Red Cross (IRC) Notecard showing Adellard’s POW camps

Although all men between the ages of 21 and 31 were required to register for the draft, not all of them were selected to join the army. I’m going to tell you the story of Adellard Barbeau, who was one of the first men to leave the small town of Danielson in Killingly in northeast Connecticut for the French front in World War I.

Adellard was born on August 24th, 1890, in Brooklyn, Connecticut, which is just a five minutes drive away from Killingly. He registered for the draft on June 5th, 1917, at the age of 27. According to his draft registration card, he worked for the Quinebaug Company, a textile manufacturer, as a cotton weaver. He had black eyes, black hair, and was of medium height. He was single at this time and declared that he didn’t have any physical injuries nor any prior military experience.

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IRC Notecard stamped “Released”

My class went to the Killingly Historical Society in Danielson, Connecticut, to find out more about the soldiers we are researching and to explore primary sources that are not available on the internet. At the library, I discovered a transcribed first-hand account of interviews with Adellard about his experiences during World War I. I was surprised to uncover that he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war!

Right before his capture, Adellard was in a “dugout” with some officers and telephone operators. The Germans “started their barrage which was terrific, our officers sent up flare after flare, calling on our artillery for a counter barrage, but there was no response from our guns… In about a minute hand grenades began to burst in the doorway and we knew the attacking forces were upon us.”

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Adellard’s IRC Notecard

The Germans were “holding our men in desperate fighting when someone happened to look around and there, behind us” were many Germans. “At this stage of the fight a rifle bullet caught me in the left shoulder and I fell. Falling I grasped out blindly for something to save me from sinking in the three feet of water in the bottom of the trench and my hand happed [sic] to catch the telephone wire that ran along that section….I was clinging to that wire in desperation then I heard a harsh ‘RAUS.’ I didn’t know what it meant then, but I well learned in the months that followed. I was a prisoner of the Germans, and was being ordered to get up and get out… Another ‘RAUS’ and I was moving forward under German guard down the American trenches that had fallen into their hands.”

Barbeau crop of German Prisoners Log

German logbook of prisoners in Camp Limburg a/Lahn

The story of Adellard Barbeau is very exciting, especially the part when they fought harder than ever even though they were about to be captured. It was also my pleasure to meet Adellard’s step-grandson in the Killingly Historical Society and to have a chance to interview him about the story of his step-grandpa. I also researched on the internet for more information about Adellard and found records on him from the Germans when he was imprisoned at Camps Limburg and Giessen. (See above the July 1918 German logbook of American prisoners at POW Camp Limburg a/Lahn in Germany. Adellard is listed on the first line.)  There also are notecards from the International Red Cross from the time when he was a prisoner of war that record that Adellard “disparu 4.20.18.” I felt relief when I saw the Red Cross card with “Released” stamped on it. It was a very good experience doing this research project, and I hope you all enjoy this story.


Prisoners at POW Camp Giessen in Germany


“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 March 2018), Adellard Barbeau, 1917-1918; citing Windham County no 16, Connecticut, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,570,495.

Barbeau, Adellard. “ Recollections of WWI Soldier.” Killingly Historical Journal. Fall 2017. Volume 23. Pages 50-51.

Personal Interview with Douglas Flannery, January 31, 2018.


Photo Credits:


Twitter: Research Tool, Network & Curation Opportunity

Twitter allows us to fine-tune our research skills and create an academic network that will help our class this year as well as other American Studies students who will inherit new inquiries yet utilize and build this network of historians, museums, librarians, journalists, writers, researchers, historical societies, and enthusiast who love history. And as someone who grew up learning how to appreciate cross-referencing skills and harvest great sources, key players, and important narratives at a card catalogue (of course, I’m “referencing” a 20th century library here) or in the notes and index of an amazing book, I now love to teach students how to apply the same techniques to books, internet searches, and Twitter accounts. Now let’s move forward with more research and curating. Onward #PBLResearch & #CrossReferencing!

As an educator who internalized the idea that keeping up with professional development is best practice, I constantly share with other educators that Twitter is a great place to network with other learners. What better place then to find historians who are in the process of researching and writing history as well as other educators who are scaffolding authentic projects for deeper learning! So within that big picture appreciation for Twitter in the classroom, I also think there is so much to learn from having students compose intentional and deliberate Tweets that illicit information and expand our academic network at the same time. What a challenge! Perhaps what is the most important thing about these challenges in class is that we are pushing the academic boundaries so much that we do not need to bring grades into the conversation. If your Tweet is not strong enough for this high standard, let’s all help you improve it. If it does well, meet the standard, and illicit much needed information for our authentic project as well as adds a new asset to our academic network: Huzzah!

Therefore, pause with me a little while and see how I use Twitter to slow down the learning process in a #PBL classroom. Let me summon some Whitman’s genius in section II of Song of Myself: Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, and suggest that Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano ( and others in the #PBLChat know #PBL educators are sharing their micro steps on Twitter, and if you want to try your own version of #PBL and want suggestions or ideas from other practitioners, then get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.


Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Art

Artist Jacob Lawrence was inspired by the Great Migration and how it changed America. He showed the trek from rural south to urban North and West. This started during WWI. African-Americans were looking for job opportunities and thought they may have better luck in the north. Jim Crow Laws were causing major outbreaks in the south and people wanted to escape the violence that it caused throughout their society. This migration did not end until the 1970’s.

Clear or Yellow Lenses?

The American military soldiers in World War I carried upwards of a hundred pounds of gear and ammunition. As a part of their equipment, they were issued a canteen for water, a Browning machine gun, and a gas mask. Their rifles weighed in at about nine pounds, and the weight has not really changed since. It seems that the military created these infantrymen to become pack mules.  Nicandro Mazzarella, from Danielson, CT, was one of these infantrymen in World War I. From his draft registration card, we learn that he was of a medium height with brown hair and black eyes. When we think of the American military, we might assume that everyone is a United States citizen, but Nicandro lists himself as being a citizen of Italy. However, he had declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen. After coming to the States, he became a weaver and a farmer in Windham County in the town of Killingly.  

To find out more about Nicandro Mazzarella, my class traveled to the Killingly Historical Society, which has a small museum. Imagine my surprise to discover a World War I bayonet, gas mask, canteen, and helmet that belonged to my soldier, Nicandro Mazzarella. I wondered how that gas mask could  provide any protection for the soldier.

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Nicandro Mazzarella’s WWI gas mask at the Killingly Historical Society Museum

In my research about gas masks, I learned from Doran Cart, senior curator at the National World War I Museum in St. Louis, that if the lenses of the gas mask have a yellow or orange tint they have seen combat. I also learned that all soldiers were issued a shaving kit which allowed them to stay clean-shaven, which made it easier for soldiers to fit their gas masks snugly over their faces.

Gas masks were necessary in World War I because of the German’s use of poison gases such as mustard and hydrogen. For decades after WWI, gas masks were rarely used.  However, with the current threats of terrorism around the world, gas masks now are useful, practical, and popular again.


“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Database with images. FamilySearch. : 20 September 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1509. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. 

Photo Credit:

Author by permission of the Killingly HIstorical Society

How Can We Teach Other CT Learners About Sgt. Stubby?​


Movie poster for the movie of Sgt. Stubby

Sergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd Regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers. Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training.

The 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

As we learned more and more about this great dog, we were thinking about how we could teach other CT learners about this magnificiant story of Stubby in the war. Stubby did so much in the war, yet many do not know about him. To help share his story we found out that there is a movie about this wonderful dog called “Sgt. Stubby.” It is an animation showing how Stubby got into the war and the things he did to help his fellow soilders during the war. This movie is great for all ages and you should go see it while it is still in theaters!

Learn more at

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.