Proposal: My paper, “Making a New American Identity: The Associated Press and Nazi Germany, 1933-1938”, was originally submitted as my final project for Dr. Nick Dupras’s History 390 class. HS390 focuses mainly on teaching methods of historical research and source analysis, and the entire semester is spent developing a research question, locating primary and secondary sources, and synthesizing the research into a long scholarly essay. As such, the NMU library and archives are the first points of call for any student taking the class. The archives are particularly important, as they are the most comprehensive repository of primary documents on campus.
With a few small exceptions, all of the resources I used for this paper came from the Olson Library or from the archives. My most significant challenge was creating a research question that reconciled the topic I wanted to write about – American public opinion about the antisemitic policies of Nazi Germany – with the primary documents available in the archives, which mainly cover local UP history. Early in the semester, I met with Marcus Robyns, the university archivist, to discuss my options. He suggested that I use the large microfilm collection in the archives to look at how various UP newspapers covered the events of the Holocaust as they were occurring. I quickly ran into a problem, however; when I began going through editions of the Mining Journal from 1933, I realized that most of the front-page articles about Nazi Germany came from the Associated Press (AP), rather than local journalists. While the articles were interesting, they only offered me information on how the AP covered Nazi Germany, and did not give me a picture of how that coverage was received by the people of Marquette.
Use of the library resources helped me turn this problem into the linchpin of my essay. I used the library’s OneSearch tool to look up articles on American press coverage of the Third Reich, and I found multiple secondary sources that examined the AP’s dealings with the Hitler regime. Several articles from German historians, published after 2016, suggested that the AP’s Berlin bureau willingly censored its own articles to avoid offending the German Propaganda Ministry. These articles created enough of a stir that the AP published a 150-page internal report in 2017, attempting to justify its soft coverage of Nazi Germany. The discovery of these sources enabled me to return to the archives and examine the Mining Journal microfilms with a new perspective. With the knowledge that the AP’s relationship with Nazi propaganda was closer than I had previously believed, I was able to compare the front-page articles with editorial columns in the paper’s back pages, written by local journalists. My question centered around the assumption that for most Americans, especially those in small towns like Marquette, the AP was the only regular source of information on Nazi Germany. Knowing that the AP’s coverage of the Nazis was not objective, I sought to analyze the impact of their bias on local perceptions of Nazi antisemitism and military aggression.
Throughout the semester, I spent at least two hours per week in the archives going through microfilms. I read hundreds of articles published between 1933 and 1938, supplementing this primary source research with books and articles on Nazi propaganda and American isolationism that I accessed through the library. The study of the AP’s coverage of Nazi Germany is a very new field of history, with almost nothing published on the subject before 2016. I am very proud of the results of my research, and I am indebted to the library and (especially) the archives for access to the invaluable sources that made that research possible.
Dr. Nick Dupras
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Lippert, Jakob, "Making a New American Identity: The Associated Press and Nazi, 1933-1938 Germany" (2021). Celebration of Student Scholarship. 32.