Over There: Men of the 42nd Division Resting in Oise-Aisne Cemetery
Some 377 men of the 42nd Rainbow Division are buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France. In collaboration with the MacArthur Memorial, for their upcoming World War I exhibit, HIST 660: World War I students researched the biographies of these men who lost their lives, to shed light on those who fought in World War I and to place the men in the context of American history in the United States and their experience of World War I abroad.
The soldiers who lost their lives represented a cross-section of the United States. Hailing from Maine to Georgia and Virginia to Washington State, there were sheepherders from Utah and a silent film star from Philadelphia. A head cheerleader from Cornell fought and fell alongside a cotton mill worker. Some went to Harvard University; others were barely literate. Some were of old American families, but many were immigrants – from Ireland, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.
Many were not even US citizens. Some were orphans; others enlisted with their brothers. Some served for months before they fell in the Marne offensive. Others died on the passage over. Some died in action, others of disease. They served in many capacities from horse shoers and stable sergeants to aerial photographers, from privates to officers.
Their stories have been uncovered by the students of History 660 – working with archivists, librarians, private citizens, American legion representatives, and strangers across the country form Alabama to South Dakota. The biographies featured here explore the lives of those soldiers who remain interred in France, buried in “alien earth.”
Kontra-Emmens, Maggie, "Over There: Men of the 42nd Division Resting in Oise-Aisne Cemetery" (2017). Student Projects. 1.