Research Projects on War
NEH seeks grant proposals that explore war and its aftermath, promote discussion of the experience of
military service, and support returning veterans and their families.
Bailey, Beth. America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. Bailey received a Fellowship in 2004 to support the research for this book (FA-50556-04).
In 1973, not long after the last American combat troops returned from Vietnam, President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise and ended the draft. No longer would young men find their futures determined by the selective service system; nor would the U.S. military have a guaranteed source of recruits. America’s Army is the story of the all-volunteer force, from the draft protests and policy proposals of the 1960s through the Iraq War. It is also a history of America in the post-Vietnam era. In the Army, America directly confronted the legacies of civil rights and black power, the women’s movement, and gay rights. The volunteer force raised questions about the meaning of citizenship and the rights and obligations it carries; about whether liberty or equality is the more central American value; what role the military should play in American society not only in time of war, but in time of peace. And as the Army tried to create a volunteer force that could respond effectively to complex international situations, it had to compete with other “employers” in a national labor market and sell military service alongside soap and soft drinks. Based on exhaustive archival research, as well as interviews with Army officers and recruiters, advertising executives, and policy makers, America’s Army confronts the political, moral, and social issues a volunteer force raises for a democratic society as well as for the defense of our nation.
Fauser, Annegret. Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Fauser received a fellowship in 2009 to complete the writing of this book (FA-54580-09).
What role did music play in the United States during World War II? How did composers reconcile the demands of their country and their art as America mobilized both militarily and culturally for war? Annegret Fauser explores these and many other questions in the first in-depth study of American concert music during World War II. While Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, and the Andrew Sisters entertained civilians at home and G.I.s abroad with swing and boogie-woogie, Fauser shows it was classical music that truly distinguished musical life in the wartime United States. Classical music in 1940s America had a ubiquitous cultural presence--whether as an instrument of propaganda or a means of entertainment, recuperation, and uplift--that is hard to imagine today, and Fauser suggests that no other war enlisted culture in general and music in particular so consciously and unequivocally as World War II. Indeed, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Group Theatre director Harold Clurman wrote to his cousin, Aaron Copland: "So you're back in N.Y. . . ready to defend your country in her hour of need with lectures, books, symphonies!" Copland was in fact involved in propaganda missions of the Office of War Information, as were Marc Blitzstein, Elliott Carter, Henry Cowell, Roy Harris, and Colin McPhee. It is the works of these musical greats--as well as many other American and exiled European composers who put their talents to patriotic purposes--that form the core of Fauser's enlightening account. Drawing on music history, aesthetics, reception history, and cultural history, Sounds of War recreates the remarkable sonic landscape of the World War II era and offers fresh insight to the role of music during wartime.
Galambos, Louis. The Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. NEH funded the Eisenhower Papers Project between 1978 and 1998, including the correspondence and writings of DDE during his tenure in the military. All 21 volumes of NEH supported volumes are publically accessible online at http://eisenhower.press.jhu.edu/ .
Hautzinger, Sarah and Jean Scandlyn. Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2014. Scandlyn received a Collaborative Research grants in 2012 (RZ-51459-12) to complete the preparation of this book.
When soldiers at Fort Carson were charged with a series of 14 murders, PTSD and other "invisible wounds of war" were thrown into the national spotlight. With these events as their starting point, Jean Scandlyn and Sarah Hautzinger argue for a new approach to combat stress and trauma, seeing them not just as individual medical pathologies but as fundamentally collective cultural phenomena. Their deep ethnographic research, including unusual access to affected soldiers at Fort Carson, also engaged an extended labyrinth of friends, family, communities, military culture, social services, bureaucracies, the media, and many other layers of society. Through this profound and moving book, they insist that invisible combat injuries are a social challenge demanding collective reconciliation with the post-9/11 wars.
Lengel, Edward, et al, eds. The Papers of George Washington. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. The Washington Papers Project includes a Revolutionary War Series, which documents Washington’s time in the army. Project website: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/. Public access available at Founders Online: http://founders.archives.gov/.
Resch, John. Suffering Soldiers: Revolutionary War Veterans, Moral Sentiment, and Political Culture in the Early Republic. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999. Resch received an NEH Fellowship in 1087 to begin research on his book (FB-24941-87).
Explores the portrayal and treatment of veterans of the American Revolution during the early 19th century. Using a range of archival records, Resch documents the changing image of Revolutionary War veterans and how their changing image changed American politics and culture for years to come.
Stueck, William. The Korean War: An International History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995 (paperback, 1997). Stueck received an NEH Fellowship in 1986 to conduct research for his book (FA-21698-86).
This first truly international history of the Korean War argues that by its timing, its course, and its outcome it functioned as a substitute for World War III. Stueck draws on recently available materials from seven countries, plus the archives of the United Nations, presenting a detailed narrative of the diplomacy of the conflict and a broad assessment of its critical role in the Cold War. He emphasizes the contribution of the United Nations, which at several key points in the conflict provided an important institutional framework within which less powerful nations were able to restrain the aggressive tendencies of the United States. In Stueck's view, contributors to the U.N. cause in Korea provided support not out of any abstract commitment to a universal system of collective security but because they saw an opportunity to influence U.S. policy. Chinese intervention in Korea in the fall of 1950 brought with it the threat of world war, but at that time and in other instances prior to the armistice in July 1953, America's NATO allies and Third World neutrals succeeded in curbing American adventurism. While conceding the tragic and brutal nature of the war, Stueck suggests that it helped to prevent the occurrence of an even more destructive conflict in Europe.
Tucker, Sherrie. Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. Tucker received an NEH Fellowship in 2010 to conduct research and write a book on the most famous of the home front nightclubs where enlisted men socialized before going off to fight in WWII (FA-55004-10)
Open from 1942 until 1945, the Hollywood Canteen was the most famous of the patriotic home front nightclubs where civilian hostesses jitterbugged with enlisted men of the Allied Nations. Since the opening night, when the crowds were so thick that Bette Davis had to enter through the bathroom window to give her welcome speech, the storied dance floor where movie stars danced with soldiers has been the subject of much U.S. nostalgia about the "Greatest Generation." Drawing from oral histories with civilian volunteers and military guests who danced at the wartime nightclub, Sherrie Tucker explores how jitterbugging swing culture has come to represent the war in U.S. national memory. Yet her interviewees' varied experiences and recollections belie the possibility of any singular historical narrative. Some recall racism, sexism, and inequality on the nightclub's dance floor and in Los Angeles neighborhoods, dynamics at odds with the U.S. democratic, egalitarian ideals associated with the Hollywood Canteen and the "Good War" in popular culture narratives. For Tucker, swing dancing's torque—bodies sharing weight, velocity, and turning power without guaranteed outcomes—is an apt metaphor for the jostling narratives, different perspectives, unsteady memories, and quotidian acts that comprise social history.
Williams, Chad. Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. Williams was an NEH fellow at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture in 2006.
On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson thrust the United States into World War I by declaring, "The world must be made safe for democracy." For the 380,000 African American soldiers who fought and labored in the global conflict, these words carried life or death meaning. Relating stories bridging the war and postwar years, spanning the streets of Chicago and the streets of Harlem, from the battlefields of the American South to the battlefields of the Western Front, Chad L. Williams reveals the central role of African American soldiers in World War I and how they, along with race activists and ordinary citizens alike, committed to fighting for democracy at home and beyond. Using a diverse range of sources, Williams connects the history of African American soldiers and veterans to issues such as the obligations of citizenship, combat and labor, diaspora and internationalism, homecoming and racial violence, "New Negro" militancy, and African American historical memories of the war. Democracy may have been distant from the everyday lives of African Americans at the dawn of the war, but it nevertheless remained a powerful ideal that sparked the hopes of black people throughout the country for societal change. Torchbearers of Democracy reclaims the legacy of black soldiers and establishes the World War I era as a defining moment in the history of African Americans and peoples of African descent more broadly.
Zeiger, Susan. Entangling Alliances: Foreign War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Zeiger received an NEH Fellowship in 2003 to conduct archival research on her topic (FB-38495-03).
Throughout the twentieth century, American male soldiers returned home from wars with foreign-born wives in tow, often from allied but at times from enemy nations, resulting in a new, official category of immigrant: the “allied” war bride. These brides began to appear en masse after World War I, peaked after World War II, and persisted through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. GIs also met and married former “enemy” women under conditions of postwar occupation, although at times the US government banned such unions. In this comprehensive, complex history of war brides in 20th-century American history, Susan Zeiger uses relationships between American male soldiers and foreign women as a lens to view larger issues of sexuality, race, and gender in United States foreign relations. Entangling Alliances draws on a rich array of sources to trace how war and postwar anxieties about power and national identity have long been projected onto war brides, and how these anxieties translate into public policies, particularly immigration.