EXPLORING ONLINE: “The Negro Soldier” (1944)

exploringonlineThe National Archives’ YouTube page has many videos, some of them about their exhibits and others primary sources.

Exploring the site a bit, I came across this video from 1944: “The Negro Soldier”

It is a 40-minute long propaganda film that was meant to convince black Americans to enlist in the military during WWII. The YouTube page for the video provides almost no information about the film.

When I then googled “The Negro Soldier,” I found a myriad of different pages about it, the first being the Wikipedia entry about it (of course). While Wikipedia should never be taken at face value (though, I would argue that it’s a good starting point and students will always use it), one element of the site that is particularly useful is the footnotes/links at the bottom of entries.

The National Archives’ catalogue entry explains much more about the film:

This War Department enlistment film aims to recruit African Americans in its World War II engagement. The documentary has as its framework a black minister’s explanation to his congregation of the reasons they should join the armed forces to fight the Nazis. The viewer sees historical re-enactments of African Americans as valued participants in U.S. armed conflicts dating from the American Revolution. Scenes also detail Black accomplishments in the country’s history, with footage of Blacks as they served as judges and school teachers, conducted orchestras, played football, and served the U.S. Army in World War II. Footage is included of Jesse Owens and other Blacks as they competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. “The Negro Soldier” was produced by Frank Capra and directed by Stuart Heisler, with music by Dimitri Tiomkin.


About Jessica Luther

Historian, Writer, Journalist, Activist
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