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‘Uncle Sam’s Letterbag’: Children’s involvement in newspaper propaganda in the First World War

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This paper draws on letters published weekly in ‘Uncle Sam’s Corner’, in Rockhampton’s Morning Bulletin and Central Queensland Herald between 1915 and 1918 to explore the role of journalists in disseminating popular narratives during the First World War. Through the children’s own words their understanding of unfolding events is exposed as is the role of journalist ‘Uncle Sam’ in shaping children’s wartime responses. Using his adjoining children’s corner and the responses given to the children’s letters, Uncle Sam inculcates the values of duty, service and sacrifice; the qualities demanded of the Empire’s civilians in wartime to aid military success. An examination of a specific children’s column reveals how media can overtly manipulate public perceptions to shape dominant societal narratives and highlights how children unwittingly participate in wartime propaganda.
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Keywords: Australia; First World War; children; letters; newspaper columns; propaganda

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Queensland

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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