By the time the U.S. officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917 — nearly exactly a century ago — the war had already been ravaging Europe for years. Since the continent’s tangled web of alliances had triggered widespread conflict in 1914, citizens and soldiers alike had discovered that modern warfare, with its trenches and tanks, was a beast of an undertaking.
So it was that the news that fresh American troops would be joining the fight was met with eagerness by allies like the French.
Those eager French citizens included a certain group of roughly middle-school-age boys who attended a school in the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris, where their teacher asked them to creatively express their reactions to the news. Some of the drawings they created, preserved for 100 years, can be seen here. In addition to expressing reactions to the American declaration of war and their appreciation for the alliance between the two nations, the students reflected artistically on their daily lives and feelings about the war in general.
These images are part of the 30 drawings on loan from Le Vieux Montmartre Historical Society to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City for the exhibition Vive l’Amérique: French Children Welcome Their American Ally, on view Tuesday through Oct. 15.