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New York State historian James Jenkins wore an authentic World War I uniform and showed 8th grade Social Studies students how the helmet would have protected a soldier while standing in a trench.

The presentation was one of three simultaneous lessons led by historians from the New York State Museum and rotated through by students.

  1. Propaganda posters
    Students viewed various propaganda posters that were displayed in New York during World War I. Students examined the text, color, lighting and symbolism to interpret the message.
  2. An average New York soldier’s experience in the war
    Students were shown a World War I uniform and a soldier’s pack that included a shovel, gas mask and rations.
  3. Primary source documents
    Students read draft notices and letters and looked at pictures of soldiers from New York who fought in the war. One picture showed Sgt. Henry Johnson, an Army infantryman from Albany who was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor.

All three 8th grade Social Studies teachers will be offering the presentations to their students this month.

“It gives them a hands-on experience,” said Goff Social Studies teacher Michael Barnes, who arranged for the visit after he attended a workshop at the New York State Museum in November.

At the end of the class, each of the historians – Mr. Jenkins, Aaron Noble and Devin Lander – discussed the significance of their topics and answered questions.

“This is how we build the historical record – from primary documents,” Mr. Lander said.

An exhibition titled “A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War” is now running through June 3, 2018 at the New York State Museum in Albany.