Tag Archives: World War I

The 1918 Parade That Spread Death in Philadelphia

14 Nov

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

A Red Cross nurse wearing a face mask, c. 1918

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world, more than died in the battles of World War I. In the United States, the hardest-hit city was Philadelphia, where the spread of the disease was spurred by what was meant to be a joyous event: a parade.

So begins Allison C. Meier’s JSTOR Daily post about Philadelphia’s influenza disaster in 1918. You may read the entire post, with links, here.

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American Indians and World War I

9 Jan
Captain Ben Davis Locke (Choctaw) with American Indian soldiers

Captain Ben Davis Locke (Choctaw), in front, with American Indian soldiers at Camp Stanley, 1918. Courtesy of Francine Locke Bray.

The American Indians in WWI Centennial Commission and the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have launched a new website. You may explore it and its links here.

How Peter Jackson Made WWI Footage Seem Astonishingly New

17 Dec

As the director of elaborate fantasy epics like the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies, Peter Jackson has become known for meticulous attention to detail. Now he has put the same amount of care into making a documentary.

With “They Shall Not Grow Old,” Jackson has applied new technology to century-old World War I footage to create a vivid, you-are-there feeling that puts real faces front and center and allows us to hear their stories in their own words.

So begins Mekado Murphy’s New York Times post on a new documentary on World War I. You need to watch some of the sample links in the post here!

Aftermath of War: A World War I Hero Lost at Sea: The Death of Charles Whittlesey, 1921

11 Dec

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One of the more notable incidents in the combat experience of U.S. troops during World War I is that of the so-called “Lost Battalion.” During the fighting in the Meuse-Argonne in October 1918, over 500 men of the 308th Infantry Regiment advanced farther than the supporting troops on either flank and ended up surrounded by the Germans. At the time of their relief after six days, 107 men were dead and 63 were missing. The leadership of their commander, Lt. Col. Charles Whittlesey, was credited with preventing an even worse outcome. The colonel received great public acclamation and the Medal of Honor.

So begins a post by archivist David Langbart about the tragic suicide of a World War I hero. You may read the rest of the post at the National Archives blog here.

The Messy “End” of World War I

31 Oct

For millions of soldiers, the First World War meant unimaginable horror: artillery shells that could pulverize a human body into a thousand fragments; immense underground mine explosions that could do the same to hundreds of bodies; attacks by poison gas, tanks, flamethrowers. Shortly after 8 p.m. on November 7, 1918, however, French troops near the town of La Capelle saw something different. From the north, three large automobiles, with the black eagle of Imperial Germany on their sides, approached the front lines with their headlights on. Two German soldiers were perched on the running boards of the lead car, one waving a white flag, the other, with an unusually long silver bugle, blowing the call for ceasefire—a single high tone repeated in rapid succession four times, then four times again, with the last note lingering.

So begins Adam Hochschild’s disturbing account of the “end” of World War I. You may read the entire New Yorker article here.

Towards a History of Mexican American Participation in World War I, Part I

9 Oct

Pages from 30-31 - CompositionFormerNatlGuardUnits.1916

The centennial anniversary of American involvement in World War I permits a closer look at the diverse racial and ethnic groups who participated in the Great War. In this blog post, we are attempting to reveal how the construction of social and military histories of Mexican Americans, particularly from Texas, called “Tejanos,” can be built through the examination of Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in Record Group 120. Documents from diverse NARA collections, such as draft registration cards, the federal census, and even maps, further contribute diverse perspectives and triangulation to soldier experiences and backgrounds. Some records have been accessed through Ancestry.com, one of NARA’s digitization partners.

Histories concerning the role of soldiers of Mexican descent, whether U.S. born,  naturalized, or seeking citizenship, are particularly scarce. The U.S. military’s classification of Mexicans as “White” in World War I – and thus interspersed with other ethnicities – has challenged historians documenting participation of this group of Latinos. The AEF’s 36th Division, nicknamed the “Lone Star Division,” and the 90th Division, nicknamed the “Tough ‘Ombres” [‘Ombres for “Hombres” in Spanish meaning “men”] offer researchers rich material to construct histories and collective biographies of Tejano participants.

The path to unearthing and bringing forward these narratives began with identifying divisions composed of former National Guard units from the Southwestern states. Fortunately, volunteers from the National Archives at College Park, had found a cache of over 2,000 first person accounts of soldiers “going over the top” in the 36th Division. Now completely digitized and searchable in the National Archives Catalog, these records offer rich descriptions during the intense battles in France during the last months of war in 1918.

So begins part 1 of a two-part post by MacDonald and Taylor at the National Archives The Text Message. You may read the entire post, with links, here.

End of August, End of the World

30 Aug

For most of us, the end of August spells the end of summer. A hundred years ago, it looked like the end of the world.

So begins historian James Bratt’s reminders and reflections on 100 years since World War I, August in particular. You may read his entire post at The Twelve here.

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