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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Historians have started to devote more attention to the drastic changes experienced by African Americans during the First World War. Recent works that have investigated blacks’ participation in the army and activism during the war have focused on broad national movements, without taking into account the regional and local differences found at the state level. Through investigation of the Virginia War History Commission questionnaires, black newspapers, and other sources, a more complex view of black experience in Virginia during the war emerges. The unique political and racial landscape of the state, labeled as the “Virginia Way,” meant blacks faced higher rates of conscription, placement in all black service battalions, and rough conditions at camps both in Virginia and in France. However, these sources also point to a black community that understood the bureaucratic and racist implications of the war, and actively tried to better their situation.

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