France, WWI, World War One, First World War, Children's History, History of Childhood, French Children, Propaganda, Wartime Propaganda, Guerre Mondiale, 1914-1918


The effects of total war society in France during WWI dramatically altered the daily lives of both adults and children, witnessing increasing levels of patriotic rhetoric, wartime propaganda, and anti-German sentiment. Children were often made the focal point of this propaganda, as they represented the future of the nation. As such, three specific representations of children emerge from WWI propaganda in France: the heroic child, the victimized child, and the malleable future citizen. Some of these representations were depicted in propaganda meant for children specifically, while others were depicted in propaganda meant to mobilize adults in the name of children. Regardless of whether the propaganda was made for children or simply manipulated their images to mobilize adults, these representations established the only acceptable roles that children could fit into in society during the war. By analyzing collections of photographs, posters, newspaper articles, children's literature, memoirs, and school assignments from 1914 to 1919, it is possible to examine the development of these representations of children in French media during WWI and, to an extent, judge whether or not children understood themselves as fitting into these roles.