Perspectives

It Came from the Archives: July 4 in World War I-era France

August 9, 2018

One hundred years ago, American doughboys were on the Western Front in World War I. From April 6, 1917, until the Senate passed a resolution formally ending hostilities in 1921, the U.S. was officially at war with Germany. U.S. troops, however, were only in France in significant numbers from the Spring of 1918 until Fall 1919. Historians generally agree that the arrival of over one million fresh doughboys during the 1918 campaign season turned the tide of war and stymied Germany’s last great World War I offensive push that fall.

The Wiregrass Archives has a visual record of the American Expeditionary Force’s Independence Day 1918 parade in Paris in its David Southerland Collection, Record Group 162. In 2014, Mr. Southerland donated a collection of 196 glass stereopticon slides and their Veriscope Richard viewer that depict scenes from France, many of military scenes (including corpses in trenches).

Five of these 196 slides show the July 4 parade. Although stereopticon slides show the same view on the left and right (to give a three-dimensional effect), we display only the right side and center panels here for clarity.

These visual records demonstrate something we already knew, that Americans carry their civic traditions with them wherever they go.

You can find all these images and more in the David Southerland Collection, ca. 1904-1960s, RG 162, at https://www.troy.edu/wiregrassarchives/inventories/162.html

It Came from the Archives is an ongoing series spotlighting the fascinating collections at the Wiregrass Archives. To find out more, visit online at https://www.troy.edu/wiregrassarchives or in person in Everett Hall on the Dothan Campus.