Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Vincent Cannato

Second Advisor

Darwin Stapleton

Third Advisor

Tim Hacsi


The racial tensions and injustices that a segregated army created during World War I and World War II is well-documented by scholars, but academic work tends to ignore the racial tensions in northern civilian and military communities. By focusing on Fort Devens, a military base in Massachusetts, this paper compares the experience of African-American soldiers versus white, European immigrant soldiers and German prisoners-of-war (POWs) on the base during World War I to show that white Americans more closely identified with the European soldiers than African-American soldiers, building stereotypes that carried over into World War II; shows that African-American military personnel during World War I and World War II included more than uneducated, poor African-American male southerner s conscripted into the army; and shows that northern military camps were hotspots of civil rights activities during World War II. These stories show how a segregated army influenced African-American identity, and united many African-Americans in fighting for civil rights in both military and civilian society.


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