Project Ideas

How can the National Army Museum support your National History Day project?

Communication is more than inventions. It is how words, thoughts, and ideas are exchanged throughout history. The National Army Museum has several suggestions for projects that support the theme. Explore how U.S. Army history and Soldiers’ stories explain Communication in History.

Communications Technology Innovation

The U.S. Army has improved upon or created communication devices that are used by Americans every day.

How have U.S. Army communication innovations impacted American society?
How have they changed the ways we communicate with each other?


Satellites
The space program began in the U.S. Army and led to the development of new innovations that changed the way we communicate. Explorer 1, the first satellite, was launched by the U.S. Army in 1958, and since then satellite use has expanded.

In fact, satellite technology continues to be a major part of modern life, in communication, global positioning systems, earth observation, and weather forecasting.

On the right is an image of the satellite, Explorer 1, a metal white and silver sphere shaped object. On the left is the same object illuminated in a gold hue.

Explore 1 (Left), NASA. Explorer 1 in orbit. (Right), NASA

How has satellite technology become a part of modern life?
How has this technology changed the way people communicate?
What role has the Army played in developing communications technology and why?

Stories
Robert H. Goddard
Wernher von Braun
Dr. Hans Ziegler
Dr. James Van Allen

Resources

1. National Aeronatucis and Space Administration. NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/

2. Raines, Rebecca Robbins. Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1996. https://history.army.mil/books/30-17/Front.htm

3.U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life cycle Management Command, “Explorer I”. The Army’s Satellite Program, History of the Jupiter Rocket System, EXPLORER I photos. N.d. https://history.redstone.army.mil/space-explorer.html

4. Walker, James and James T. Hooper. “Space Warriors: The Army Space Support Team,” Center of Military History, rev. 2003. https://history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-91-1/cmhPub_70-91-1.pdf


“Hello” Girls

The telephone transformed the way people communicated with one another. It created a whole new industry that gave women new opportunities to participate in the work force as telephone operators.

The demand for fast and reliable communication was paralleled in the U.S. Army. During World War I, two hundred women served as contract telephone operators in France as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The U.S. Army recruited experienced operators who were also bilingual in French and English. Nicknamed “Hello Girls,” their fluency in English and Frenchy kept communication open among Soldiers on the frontlines.

On the right is a purple female telephone operator uniform jacket. The jacket has a patch on one sleeve and an Army ribbon pinned to the front. On the left is a black and white historical photograph of women working a telephone switchboard while a man in uniform and another woman observe.

“Hello Girls” Uniform Jacket (Left), National Army Museum.  Telephone Operators at work in the Elysees Palace Hotel in Paris, France (Right). National Archives.

How did new technology, like the telephone, change battlefield communication?
What factors led the Army to recruit female telephone operators during World War I?

Stories
Grace Banker
Cordelia Dupuis

Resources
1. Cobbs Hoffman, Elizabeth. The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers. Harvard University Press, 2017.

2. “The Hello Girls with Elizabeth Cobbs.” CSPAN video, 9:56, February 17, 2020.https://www.c-span.org/video/?470531-1/the-girls

3. Frahm, Jill. “Women Telephone Operators in World War I France.” Center for Cryptologic History (2016).  https://www.nsa.gov/Portals/70/documents/about/cryptologic-heritage/historical-figures-publications/publications/WWI/women-phone-operators-in-wwi-france.pdf?ver=2020-01-15-110925-127

4. Library of Congress. “Hello girls: Topics in Chronicling America.” Accessed December 3, 2020. https://guides.loc.gov/chronicling-america-hello-girls

5. National Archives and Records Administration. Search “Hello Girls”. https://www.archives.gov/

6. Raines, Rebecca Robbins. Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1996. https://history.army.mil/books/30-17/Front.htm

7. “Theres, Jim. “The Hello Girls””, PBS video, 29:28, June 29, 2018, https://www.pbs.org/video/jim-theres-the-hello-girls-rwzl4e/

8. Thompson, Susan. “Hello Girls of World War I.”U.S. Army, March 27, 2020. https://www.army.mil/article/234046/hello_girls_of_world_war_i.


Pigeon Mocker

Homing pigeons, known for their swiftness and determination returning to their home station, were used by the U.S. Army to send messages when lines of communication were unreliable. These pigeons carried important messages that saved lives.

Pigeon Mocker served with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, delivering intelligence that was inaccessible to commanders in the field. During one mission, Mocker was wounded, losing his right eye and part of his cranium. Mocker was declared a “hero pigeon” and awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal among others due to his heroic actions.

On the right is a side profile of taxidermy brown and gray pigeon with a small cylinder vial attached to one leg. On the left is a yellowed image of a newspaper cut out from the Washington Herald, March 22, 1931. The article is titled “Pigeon War Heroes Honored. Cited and Awarded Medals.” The article contains one photo of two men. The on the right is one man holding Mocker in one hand while he accepts an award in his other hand. The man on the right is presenting the award.

Taxidermy Pigeon Mocker (Left), National Army Museum. Washington Herald newspaper article featuring Mocker’s ceremony at the National Racing Pigeon Association in 1931 (Right), National Archives.

How have animals, like Mocker, been used to aid communication?
What factors led the U.S. Army to use Pigeons as messengers?

Stories
Pigeon, Cher Ami
Dog, Sgt. Stubby

Resources
1. National Archives. Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860-1985: Homing Pigeons, 1936. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/24725

2. Jessiekratz. 2018. “Unsung Heroes of World War I: The Carrier Pigeons.” Pieces of History (blog). National Archives. January 8. https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2018/01/08/unsung-heroes-of-world-war-i-the-carrier-pigeons/

3. Library of Congress. “Pigeons in War: Topics in Chronicling America.” Accessed December 3, 2020. https://guides.loc.gov/chronicling-america-war-pigeons

4. National Museum of the United States Navy. “Carrier Pigeons.” Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/museums/nmusn/explore/photography/wwi/wwi-aviation/pigeons.html

5. Raines, Rebecca Robbins. Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1996. https://history.army.mil/books/30-17/Front.htm