Tag Archive | World Wars

Object: Draft Card


WWI Draft Registration Card
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Paper, Ink

This object is a World War I draft registration card for Ernst Fritz Schuchard of San Antonio, Texas. Born in 1893, Schuchard was twenty-four years old when he registered for the draft.

The Selective Service Act, or Selective Draft Act, was passed in 1917 and allowed the President to temporarily increase the size of the military during times of war. After the Act became law, there were three registrations in 1917 and 1918. Schuchard registered on the first registration day which was held on June 5, 1917. This registration day was designated for all “men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one and those born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.” In Texas, 989,600 men registered for the draft in 1917. Schuchard was later drafted into the Army and served in World War I.

Students protest the Vietnam War and draft

Students protest the Vietnam War and draft. Image by uwdigitalcollections via Wikimedia Commons

The Selective Service Act was cancelled after the end of World War I, but a new version was passed by Congress in 1940 in preparation for the United States’ involvement in World War II. The Selective Service Act was due to expire in 1947, but President Truman and Congress renewed it. During the Vietnam War, the selective service act was met with public resistance and there were nationwide demonstrations against it. Many of the demonstrations were due to the fact that Americans felt the system was unfair. This was due to deferments based on family status and whether or not the person was in college. In order to help with these issues a new act called the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 was passed, but did little to stop anti-draft protests. The Military Selective Service Act expired in 1973, but President Carter reenacted it in 1980 and it is still in effect today. Today, the Selective Service requires all males to register when they reach the age of eighteen, but there has not been an induction through the Selective Service System since 1973.

Registration with the Selective Service has been restricted to males only. Females serving in the military have traditionally been banned from serving in combat roles. In 2015, the department of defense declared that these restrictions would be lifted in 2016. Congress however, is now faced with the decision of whether to change the Selective Service Act to include all females who are eighteen years old. This past June the Senate passed a bill that would require women to register for the draft as well. This bill has yet to be signed into law and further debate is expected as it makes its way through the House.

As for Ernst Schuchard, after his service he returned to San Antonio to work as an engineer at the Pioneer Flour Mill which was founded by is grandfather, Carl Guenther. The Guenther Family immigrated to Texas from Germany. After advancing to the position of Secretary and eventually to President at the flour mill, Schuchard began making detailed drawings and paintings of the Missions in San Antonio. Schuchard was involved in the research and reconstruction of the grist mill at Mission San Jose. Ernst Schuchard became a well-known artist in Texas. He died in San Antonio in 1972 and was buried at Mission Burial Park South. [Kim Grossett, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Baker, Henderson. Women in Combat: A Cultural Issue? Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 2006.

Coffman, Edward M. The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.

Flynn, George Q. Conscription and Democracy: The Draft in France, Great Britain, and the United States. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Schulzinger, Robert D. A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Object: Dog Tag








United States
San Antonio
Materials: Metal

This object is a metal identification tag also known as a dog tag. This tag was worn by Jose M. Valdespino who enlisted in  Sept 1942 at Duncan Field, in San Antonio. After training, he was assigned as the Ball Turret Gunner in a B-17 with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the the 367th Bomb Squadron, 306th Bomber Group, based in England.  He flew 24 missions with “The Clay Pigeon’s” in a B-17, his missions included the bombing France which was occupied by Germany. Joe’s combat service ended when he was injured in a jeep accident. He was discharged in October 1945. Watch the following video to hear more about his story. 

Identification tags for the military have been used since around the 1850s. The earliest known example where dog tags were used was during the Taiping Revolt in China.  The soldiers fighting in this rebellion wore wooden tags on their belt. The information on the tag included name, age, birthplace, unit and the date they were enlisted. In the days of the American Civil War more than 150,000 soldiers were unidentified. Some knew that if they were to perish in the war there was a possibility that they would not be identified. So many went to great lengths to have some sort of identification on them. Many attached notes to their bodies while others wrote their name on their belts, and some wrote their name on the bottom of their shoes.

Example of a identification tag used during the American Civil War

Example of a identification tag used during the American Civil War. Image via: http://www.ephemerasociety.org

With the high demand for some type of identification tag, merchants started selling metal disks to soldiers. In many periodicals such as Harper’s Magazine there was advertisements for tags called “soldier’s pins” which were made of silver or gold with the soldiers name and unit. By the 1890s dog tags were being issued to the U.S. Army and Navy. By the time the United States entered WWI all soldiers were required to use a identification tag.

During WWII a new type of tag was introduced, this new tag changed in style from a disk to a rectangle tag, known as the M1940. The rectangular tag had a notch at the end like the tag from our collections. It was during WWII that the tags got the nickname “dog tag.” The tags not only had the name of the soldier but also other information such as blood type, tetanus shot information, and religious preference. During WWII however, there was only 3 options for religious preference: Protestant, Catholic, and Hebrew. Since then more options have been added and soldiers even have the option to put “none” or “no religious preference.” Early versions of identification tags included the name and address of the soldier’s next of kin. During the war, the enemy used that information as a tool for psychological warfare, so the practice was discontinued by 1943. Silencers for the dog tags were also introduced during WWII. The silencers were used to prevent the dog tags from making noise when coming into contact with each other.   The M1940 tag was in use until it was replaced by the M1967 which was made of a T304 stainless steel. This type of tag has no notch and is what is used today.

Example of current dog tags issued today with silencers.

Example of current dog tags issued today with silencers. Image via: http://www.armydogtags.com

With technology being so advanced, the future of dog tags looks promising. The U.S. Army is currently developing and testing dog tags that would use RFID, microchip, or USB technology. The dog tags would hold the soldiers medical information as well as dental records, which would make it easier if in identifying them. These dog tags would be worn in addition to the current ones. The Marine Corps is developing dog tags with advanced technology also including RFID and the possibility of even being able to use GPS data to help locate wounded soldiers. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Braddock, Paul F. Dog Tags: A History of the American Military Identification Tag, 1861-2002. [United States?]: P.F. Braddock, 2003.

Cucolo, Ginger. Dog Tags: The History, Personal Stories, Cultural Impact, and Future of Military Identification. [United States]: Allen House Pub, 2011.

Maier, Larry B., and Joseph W. Stahl. Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War: A Complete Classification Guide and Illustrated History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2008.

Object: Print

I-0364d (3)

Roy Crane
Materials: Paper, Pen, Ink

Art played a significant role during World War II; it was used in the United States to bring people together against a common enemy and to show Americans what they were fighting for. Posters, comics and advertisements once used to market items or make people laugh started to be used to market political agendas, leaders or causes. Collections of art, most significantly propaganda from the WWII era, are significant pieces of history because one can see what society was like at that time. They expose cultural ideals through how they motivated people to join the war, support their military or even hate the enemy. This object is a pen and ink print of the notable ‘Buz Sawyer’ drawn by cartoonist Roy Crane.  The ‘Buz Sawyer’ cartoon was one of the first of its kind, as cartoons were no longer just for laughs but were meant to talk about the war and depict realistic circumstances.


Cartoonist Roy Crane Image via: Lambiek Comiclopedia

Roy Crane, was raised in Sweetwater, Texas. Son of a lawyer and schoolteacher, he was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago as well as the University of Texas and went on to be a talented cartoonist. His first published piece was the cartoon strip, ‘Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune’. Beautifully crafted the ‘Captain Easy’ story-lines were made to make the viewers laugh. This cartoon strip was published each and every Sunday until Crane felt his artistic nature being stifled by the limitations of the newspaper he was working for.  He eventually left the Sunday newspaper pages of Cleveland for King Features in 1943 and put to paper his own experiences as a traveler drafting ‘Buz Sawyer’.


Image via: comicskingdom.com

Crane,  wanted to be the first cartoonist to create realistic plots and depictions of the war. He wanted to animate history and adventure, and believed ‘Buz Sawyer’ would do just that. This character was depicted as a WWII Navy pilot, clean cut and well behaved, a figure of American patriotism, courage and discipline. A more risky character, Rosco Sweeny, the comic relief of the strip, of course accompanied Buz. Roy Crane would influence other artists with the ‘Buz Sawyer’ comic strip to also tell action adventure stories rather than humor alone. As WWII ended so did the adventurous war stories of Buz Sawyer and Rosco Sweeney. Crane would follow the experiences of Americans at the time and as men came home from war so did Buz Sawyer. The strip did not end with Buz’s return home but the story-lines did become more serious and focused on family life after the war.

Cartoons are both history and art made for the public audience. Cartoons such as ‘Buz Sawyer’ can be looked at by historians to examine time and place.  The time in which they are written can be reflected in characters, buildings or clothing. Cartoons even can be used to teach history and current events, they spark conversation and innovation; cartoons are tools to teach the masses, because they are written for them. [Trisha Taylor, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]


Additional Resources:

Doherty, Thomas Patrick. Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Rhodes, Anthony Richard Ewart. Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion in World War II. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1976.

Scott, Cord A. Comics and Conflict: Patriotism and Propaganda from WWII Through Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2014.


Sneak Peek

The Exhibits and Collections staff is busy installing Faces of Survival. This exhibit was developed and curated by University of Texas at San Antonio graduate students, taught by Dr. Kolleen Guy. The exhibit discusses topics of genocide and the holocaust.  The show officially opens on April 15th, but you can get a sneak peek of our progress installing it below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Object: Jacket

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

U.S. Army
United States
Materials: Cloth,  metal

This object is a uniform consisting of a jacket and pants from the United States Army. Army uniforms have gone through many changes over the years. This particular uniform style was originally used in World War I, but during World War II a different style of uniform was in use. Due to a shortage of the newer style, many WWI surplus uniforms were issued to soldiers at the beginning of WWII. This seems to be the case with this particular uniform since the patch on it is from a WWII Division.


Map of the Pacific region. It also shows which countries are in control of which areas. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The 19th Infantry Regiment was first organized 1861 but has since been reorganized, combined with others, and had many changes of assignment. During WWII they participated in the Pacific Theater of the war and one of their assignments was with the 24th Infantry Division. Divisions are large groups of soldiers, made up of several brigades or regiments. This division was also known as the Hawaiian Division during WWII. Later divisions also were formed from the Hawaiian Division such as the 25th Infantry Division which was able to defend Hawaii during World War II.


Taro is a tropical plant grown for its edible starchy stems. Image via http://science.howstuffworks.com

The patch design that the Hawaiian Division used is a  taro leaf in the center with a red background and a black border around the circular patch. The taro leaf is a very important plant in the history of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. The taro leaf was part of the economic, political, and religious history of Hawaii as well as a dietary staple. At one time there were up to 300 different varieties of taro that were harvested on the Hawaiian islands, the crop was the preferred food source over the sweet potato even though taro required more effort to grow.

Hawaii became a part of the United States, first as a territory in 1898, and then as a state in 1959. Many changes have taken place since receiving statehood. Tourism has greatly expanded as over-sea Pacific travel has become more accessible and affordable. The appearance of the islands began to change as the buildings and activities required to support this tourism rapidly expanded. Even still, the cultural awareness of Hawaiians and other Polynesians has heightened both on and off the islands.

On the islands there are different opportunities for traditional Hawaiian beliefs, practices, and ceremonies to be performed for both entertainment and education. Some Hawaiians have also moved off of the island, to the mainland, bringing their culture and traditions with them. Even in Texas there are Hawaiians that seek to maintain and share their culture through organizations such as the Texas Hawaiian Civic Club. [Abby Goode, edited by Jennifer McPhail]

Additional resources:
Ariyoshi, Rita. 2009. Hawaii. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Dunnigan, James F., and Albert A. Nofi. 1998. The Pacific war encyclopedia. New York: Facts On File.

Forbes, David W. 1992. Treasures of Hawaiian history: from the collection of the Hawaiian Historical Society. Honolulu, Hawai’i: The Society.

Lightner, Richard. 2004. Hawaiian history: an annotated bibliography. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

United States. 1957. 24th Infantry Division, 16th anniversary. [Place of publication not identified]: Produced by Information Section, 24th Infantry Division.

The TARL Blog

Experimenting with collections access since 2013

Museum Anthropology

Experimenting with collections access since 2013

Center for the Future of Museums

Experimenting with collections access since 2013


Experimenting with collections access since 2013

Smithsonian Collections Blog

Experimenting with collections access since 2013

Digital Scholarship in the Humanities

Exploring the digital humanities

ethnology @ snomnh

experimenting with social microexhibitions since 2007

%d bloggers like this: