Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Carol Lilly, Douglas L Biggs
Well before the conclusion of World War I, Americans were engaged in finding ways to honor and remember those who served in the conflict. Taking advantage of this heightened interest in memorialization, in 1920 Ernest Moore Viquesney produced a life-sized statue marketed as The Spirit of the American Doughboy. Due to its low cost and savvy marketing, The Spirit of the American Doughboy became one of the most dominant forms of World War I memorialization. However, today many replicas of The Spirit of the American Doughboy have been relegated to obscure locations or subsumed into larger veteran memorials. This thesis will examine the history of The Spirit of the American Doughboy along with its past and present role in the memorialization and the collective memory of World War I. Through this analysis we can gain a better understanding of why communities in the 1920s and 1930s were anxious to demonstrate their patriotism through their local replicas of The Spirit of the American Doughboy. However, once this surge of memorialization passed these replicas, like World War I itself, have been forgotten, or their original messaging has been transformed from one of World War I memorialization to a memorial for veterans of all wars. Today as these memorials begin to decay communities struggle over what should be done with memorials to past conflicts, and whether they should retain their places of honor in the community or be relegated to the past. This work uses a select analysis of The Spirit of the American Doughboy replicas across the United States to find the place these memorials have in memorialization and public memory today.
Nelson, Michael Leonard, "Is This Your Boy? The Spirit of the American Doughboy in World War I Memorialization" (2022). History Theses, Dissertations, and Student Creative Activity. 15.