WW1 America Press Kit

WW1 America graphic


Due to popular demand, this exhibit has been extended. On view April 8-Nov. 11, 2017, at the Minnesota History Center.

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Lead Release

From Western Front to Home Front: How WW1 Transformed America

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

From Western Front to Home Front: How WW1 Transformed America

‘WW1 America’ opens at the Minnesota History Center, April 8, 2017

The WW1 era—1914 to 1919—saw America transformed. The United States emerged as a confident global superpower while at home Americans grew more divided. Through original artifacts, images, voices, interactives and multimedia presentations, “WW1 America” will tell the extraordinary stories of Americans—both the legendary and the unsung—during this turbulent time and how this history can help us understand ourselves and our nation today.

“WW1 America” opens at the Minnesota History Center on April 8, 2017, on the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WW1. After its opening run, the exhibit will begin a three-year tour to premier historical museums around the country. “WW1 America” is created by the Minnesota History Center in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Oakland Museum of California and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

This exhibit is offered in conjunction with a slate of public and educational programs, MNHS Press publications and a website.

  • Exhibit Opening
    The exhibit kicks off Friday, April 7, with a live stage show presented in partnership with Minnesota Public Radio at the Fitzgerald Theater. On Saturday, April 8, explore the exhibit, take in a history talk, a theatrical performance with comedian Kevin Kling, and a day of family activities including costumed reenactors, live music, storytelling and art activities. Some programs ticketed separately from exhibit admission. Check the online calendar for more information.
  • WW1 America Mural
    Minnesota artist David Geister will paint a huge mural in front of visitors during the run of the exhibit. At the same time, the public will vote on the position of 100 key Americans who were central to the making of post-WW1 America.
  • Companion website, educational resources and MNHS Press
    The exhibit website at www.mnhs.org/WW1America will provide a portal to MNHS resources including a “WW1 Daybook” based on the MNHS collections, educational offerings and an extensive list of MNHS Press books, “Minnesota History” magazine and MNopedia articles. Look for additions to the website this spring.

Content advisers include active-duty military and veterans, such as the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans, organizations that are direct legacies of the American experience in WW1.

Exhibit and Program Support
“WW1 America” is produced in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Oakland Museum of California and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Additional support is provided by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

Location, Hours and Admission
The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.

Admission to “WW1 America” is included with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $6 ages 5 to 17; free age 4 and under and MNHS members. Active military and veterans receive a $2 discount.

About the Minnesota History Center
The Minnesota History Center holds the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. The History Center is home to an innovative museum, engaging public programs, a research library, distinctive gift shops and Market House by D’Amico restaurant.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Exhibit Experience

WW1 America: Exhibit Experience

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Exhibit Experience

“WW1 America” presents the stories of a divisive and transformational America told through original artifacts, images, voices, music, hands-on exploration and multimedia presentations.

Before the War
Americans watched warily as Europe’s armies went to war in the summer of 1914. Although more than two years would pass before the country engaged militarily, the United States began providing support for war-torn Europe almost immediately. Advocates for “preparedness” clashed with newly formed groups seeking peace.

  • A recreated newsstand features a multimedia show on the ongoing war in Europe before American entry.
  • At a wharf interactive visitors can explore the variety and scale of U.S. products shipped overseas, including horses, locomotives, steel, weapons and donations of grain and flour produced in large part by Minneapolis mills.
  • A short animation and original artifacts from the sinking of the RMS Lusitania--including a deck chair from the ship--show the threats of submarine warfare.
  • A multimedia environment tells stories of the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to northern cities, and how these migrants sought jobs in booming war industries.

At War
Within a compressed 19-month period beginning in April 1917, the United States amassed a military force of more than four million men. Nearly two million served overseas. Opposition to the war continued, but the government stirred up patriotism through its Committee on Public Information. War recruitment surged and dissent was forcibly suppressed.

  • A Red Cross ambulance sets the scene for an immersive battlefield environment where visitors hear stories from soldiers and nurses.
  • Original artifacts and stories from “doughboys,” like Charles Whittlesey of the famed “Lost Battalion,” which was trapped behind German lines for almost a week, and Mexican-American soldier Jose de la Luz Saenz who fought for democracy in France and against racial segregation in the United States.
  • Artifacts and images show the impact of new, terrifying technologies, such as poison gas, machine guns, tanks and airplanes.
  • An interactive quiz reveals the government’s swift suppression of dissent from Emma Goldman, Eugene V. Debs and others.
  • The struggle for woman suffrage was intertwined with American involvement in the war. A multimedia environment features original artifacts and stories from the movement.
  • At a music store with an interactive Victrola and in a sit-down movie theater, visitors can explore popular culture of the era.

After the War
With the signing of the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, Americans celebrated victory even while extraordinary challenges loomed. Anarchist bombings, racial violence, labor unrest and a return of the influenza epidemic made 1919 one of the most volatile years in American history.

  • A recreated walk-through victory arch emphasizes the brutal contrasts of 1919: civic celebrations clashing with bombings and riots.
  • Images show some of the thousands of strikes during the year, focusing on the Seattle General Strike.
  • A recreated hospital ward shows the peak of the influenza outbreak in 1919.
  • A setting suggestive of a veteran’s hospital features original prosthetics and rehabilitation items.

Witnesses
Throughout the exhibit, visitors encounter “Witnesses,”people who represent the complex and divergent stories of the day. Some famous, others little-known, stories include social reformer Jane Addams, African-American activist W. E. B. DuBois, evangelist Billy Sunday, WW1 volunteer nurse and driver Alice O’Brien, movie star Mary Pickford and entrepreneur-activist Madam C. J. Walker. Original artifacts, quotes and stories remind visitors of the powerful role of individuals in an era characterized by mass movements.

Legacies
In this section visitors are reminded of the war’s lasting impact on America: the expansion of the military; state surveillance of private citizens and the creation of the American Civil Liberties Union; the power of the peace movement; the global dominance of Wall Street; the successful push for Constitutional amendments for Prohibition and woman suffrage; severe restrictions placed on immigrants; and increased government oversight of the economy.

Mural Project

WW1 America: Mural Project

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 29, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Mural Project

UPDATED A living work of art is how to best describe the WW1 America Mural Project. Working on a huge canvas, 8 feet tall by 30 feet long, Minnesota artist David Geister will complete a mural in front of visitors during the run of the new exhibit “WW1 America” April 8-Nov. 11, 2017, at the Minnesota History Center. In addition, the public is invited to vote on the position of 100 key Americans selected for the mural.

Mural 1    

Voting is available now and will continue through the opening of the exhibit in April. The individuals who receive the most nominations will be most prominently featured in the mural.

Visitors can see the artist at work on:

  • April 8, 1-4 p.m.
  • April 11, 6-8 p.m.
  • April 22, 1-4 p.m.
  • April 25, 6-8 p.m.

The mural depicts 100 historical figures who were central to the making of post-WW1 America. It is modeled after the “Pantheon de la Guerre,” which, when it was completed in 1918 in Paris, was believed to be the world’s largest painting. The “Pantheon” featured portraits of around 6,000 wartime figures from France and its allies. A portion of the “Pantheon” mural is on view at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City.

After the close of the “WW1 America” exhibit, the WW1 America Mural will travel to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City where it will be on display in fall 2017 before returning to MNHS collections.

Opening Events

WW1 America: Opening Events

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Opening Events

The exhibit kicks off with a stage show at the Fitzgerald Theater on Friday night and a history talk, theater program and a day of family activities at the History Center on Saturday:

  • The War That Changed Us: Songs & Stories from WW1 America, Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul
    Friday, April 7, 7 p.m., $25-30/$2 discount for MNHS members
    A live stage show presented in partnership with Minnesota Public Radio featuring host Dan Chouinard with special guests Kevin Kling, Patricia Hampl, Ann Bancroft, Michael Osterholm, Christopher Capozzola and others.
     
  • Exhibit Opening, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul
    Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free with admission; free admission to the History Center for active military and veterans, made possible by Xcel Energy
    Stop by interactive stations to see artist David Geister paint the huge WW1 America mural, visit with costumed reenactors from the era, take part in an art activity for kids, listen to live music from the era.
     
  • WW1 & the Making of Modern America Talk, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul
    Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m., $16/$12 MNHS members
    How were Americans in 1917 mobilized to support the war, and how did the government move to suppress dissent? Christopher Capozzola, author of “Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen,” will explore a crucial moment in our history and its lessons a century later. Also, hear brief comments from MNHS exhibit curator Brian Horrigan.
     
  • If WW1 Was a Bar Fight with Kevin Kling, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul
    Saturday, April 8 & 22, 2 p.m., $16/$12 MNHS members
    Storyteller Kevin Kling narrates a theatrical version of the popular Internet meme, “If World War One Was a Bar Fight,” in which the complicated story of the outbreak of hostilities 100 years ago is reimagined as a fight among belligerent bar patrons. Funny, edgy and thought-provoking.

Find out more with the online calendar of events.

Public Programs - Spring

WW1 America: Public Programs

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Public Programs

Programs and events are being offered throughout the run of the “WW1 America” exhibit.

Spring programs:

  • History Lounge: The Nonpartisan League, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Tuesday, March 21, 7 p.m., free
    Discover how citizens united to change Midwestern politics during WW1 with historian Michael J. Lansing.
  • History Lounge: The WW1 Letters of Alice O’Brien, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m., free
    Get to know St. Paulite Alice O’Brien’s adventures in wartime France, where she served as a volunteer nurse and driver, with Nancy O’Brien Wagner, author of the new MNHS Press book “Alice in France: The World War I Letters of Alice M. O’Brien” (April 2017).
  • History Flirt: WW1 Art, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Tuesday, April 18, 5 p.m., free
    Enjoy happy hour, view the “WW1 America” exhibit, and get up close to the art, music and film that shaped the era for soldiers and their loved ones at home.
  • Forgotten Stories of WW1: Panthéon de la Guerre, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m. $16/$12 MNHS members
    In this new monthly series, nationally known historians will explore forgotten WW1-era stories of the individuals and organizations who made modern America. In April, join art historian Mark Levitch to learn the remarkable story of the “Panthéon de la Guerre,” painted in France during WW1.

Programs at MNHS historic sites

  • World War I Weekend, Historic Fort Snelling, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 & 20, free with admission
    Visit with costumed interpreters, watch military demonstrations, crawl through a recreated WW1-style trench and experience what life was like for Minnesotans during this crucial time.
  • Families on the Homefront Tour, Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, June 3 & 17, July 1 & 15, Aug. 5, tours run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $6-10/$2 discount MNHS members
    Costumed interpreters portraying the Lindbergh family and neighbors will provide insights into the daily lives of Minnesotans at home during the war.
  • Pillsbury A Mill Tour, Mill City Museum, Saturdays & Sundays, Feb. 11 & 19, March 5 & 19 $12-$16/$4 discount MNHS members
    On this new tour, learn about Minneapolis milling history, including the city’s key role in supplying food for war-torn Europe during WW1, plus visit the rooftop deck and historic waterpower facilities.

Additional programs include author talks and lectures, summer brewing history bus tours, a special 9 Nights of Music: WW1 Music + Outdoor Movie, a new WW1-themed play performed inside the History Center exhibit galleries, and a summer History Hound HiJinx art activity.

In addition, programs are being developed at the Alexander Ramsey House, James J. Hill House and the Oliver Kelley Farm. Check the online calendar of events for the latest program information.

Public Programs - Fall

Fall Programs Support Extension of “WW1 America” Exhibit at Minnesota History Center

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 31, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

Fall Programs Support Extension of “WW1 America” Exhibit at Minnesota History Center

Due to popular demand, the “WW1 America” exhibit has been extended, and will now close on Veteran’s Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. All veterans and active military are admitted free of charge on the final day.

Explore the "WW1 America" exhibit and encounter extraordinary people and nation-shaking movements—from mass immigration, women's suffrage, racial politics and the Great Migration, to daily life and popular culture. A slate of new programs is being offered this fall in conjunction with the exhibit. 

Fall programs at the Minnesota History Center:

  • WW1 America Mural Project: Meet the Artist
    Tue., Aug 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 6-8 p.m., Free
    Watch as artist David Geister paints a 30-foot mural in front of visitors during the run of the WW1 America exhibit. The completed mural will be on view through Nov. 11.
  • Forgotten Stories of WW1:
    Explore forgotten WW1-era stories of the individuals and organizations who made modern America. This program is made possible by the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation. 
    • Minnesota State Fair & the Great War
      Sat., Aug. 19, 10 a.m. $16/$12  MNHS members 
      Historian Mark Haidet will share Minnesota State Fair activities during WW1 including recruitment efforts, sporting contests and reenactments of Western Front battles. 
    • American Legion & Red Cross
      Sat., Sept. 9, 10 a.m. $16/$12 MNHS members 
      Phil Hansen of the Minnesota Red Cross and Al Zdon of the Minnesota American Legion discuss the local and national relief efforts during and after WW1. 
    • 100 Who Made Modern America
      Sat., Oct. 7, 10 a.m. $16/$12 MNHS members 
      Hear from artist David Geister about some of the most influential people of the WW1 era. 
    • 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division
      Sat., Nov. 11, 10 a.m. $16/$12 MNHS members
      National Guard officers and experts will speak about the division’s 100 years of service and its WW1 stories. 
  • WW1 America Painting Workshop with David Geister
    Sat., Oct 7, 1-5 p.m., $55/$44 MNHS members
    Join artist David Geister for an intensive hands-on portrait painting workshop and learn how to apply oil paint, mix colors and add selective details.
  • History Lounge: The Twin Cities African American Community in WW1
    Tue., Oct. 10, 7 p.m., Free
    Historian Peter J. DeCarlo will speak about how African American Minnesotans endured racism, strived for equal treatment, and proved their loyalty to the United States during WW1.
  • Crucial Conversations:
    Talk about the history that matters now in a dialogue facilitated by staff members trained by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
    • An Equal Voice for Women
      Sat., Oct 21, 10-11:30 a.m. & 1-2:30 p.m., Free, registration recommended
      Explore the ideas that energized the early 20th-century women’s movement.
    • A Nation of Nations
      Sat., Nov. 18, 10-11:30 a.m. & 1-2:30 p.m., Free, registration recommended
      Explore the first era of immigration restriction in the United States and exchange ideas about what it means to be "a nation of immigrants" today 
  • Free Admission for Veterans, All MNHS historic sites & museums
    Sat., Nov 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Free admission for veterans and active military.
    In honor of the contributions of our military service members, all veterans and active military can enjoy free admission at MNHS historic sites and museums on Veterans Day. Come to the History Center and view "WW1 America," "AMVets Post #5," "Minnesota’s Greatest Generation," and other great exhibits for free!

Fall programs at MNHS historic sites:

  • World War I Centennial Weekend, Historic Fort Snelling
    Sat. & Sun., Aug. 19 & 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $6-12/free MNHS members, $2 discount veterans/active military
    Visit with costumed interpreters, watch military demonstrations, crawl through a recreated WW1-style trench and experience what life was like for Minnesotans 100 years ago.
  • Families on the Homefront Tour, Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site
    Sat., Aug. 5, 19, Sept. 2, Tours run every 30 minutes, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $6-10/$2 discount MNHS members
    Costumed interpreters portraying the Lindbergh family and neighbors will provide insights into the daily lives of Minnesotans at home during the Great War.
  • Upper Post Walking Tour: World War I, Historic Fort Snelling
    Sun., Aug 20, 2017, 9-11 a.m., Free, $10 suggested donation. Advance tickets required.
    Take a two-hour walking tour with a Fort Snelling Foundation guide and learn about Fort Snelling during WWI.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at www.mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Resources

WW1 America: Resources

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Resources

Learn more about WW1 America with MNHS collections, educational offerings and publications, which will be accessible through a new website at www.mnhs.org/WW1America.

WW1 Daybook
Daily posts during the centennial of America’s involvement in the war will feature MNHS collection items, including soldiers’ diaries and letters, government records, artifacts, local newspapers, publications and photographs.

Collections
MNHS holds many materials covering the efforts of Minnesotans during WW1, both at home and abroad. The State Archives include military service records, photographs and records regarding Minnesota’s war effort at home. MNHS also holds photographs, letters, diaries, newspapers, reminiscences, posters and war-related objects. A new WW1 library guide can help researchers navigate these resources.

Education
A new primary source kit for use in grades 6-12 includes a curated set of primary sources supplemented with discussion questions and activity suggestions. Sources relate to the American experiences of war. In addition, a section of the MNHS education website will feature online resources, including digitized primary sources and teaching resources related to the exhibit themes and to broad social studies topics including suffrage, temperance, immigration, labor and the war itself.

MNHS Press Titles
MNHS Press offers “Alice in France: The World War I Letters of Alice M. O’Brien” by Nancy O’Brien Wagner (April 2017), the story of a young woman who forgoes a privileged life to volunteer for service in war-torn France. In addition, acclaimed newspaper reporter Curt Brown is working on a manuscript about Minnesota in 1918, due in 2018. Backlist titles include “Food Will Win the War” by Rae Eighmey and “Watchdog of Loyalty: The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety During World War I” by Carl Chrislock.

MNopedia
Discover an extensive list of WW1 articles with MNopedia, the free online encyclopedia of people, places, events and things relating to Minnesota history.

“Minnesota History” Magazine
Upcoming articles include “Anna Gilbertson and the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage after World War I” by Susan L. Schrader (Spring 2017) and “Loyalty within Racism: the Segregated Sixteenth Battalion of the Minnesota Home Guard During World War I” by Peter DeCarlo (Summer 2017). Plus explore the “Minnesota History” archive for stories about anti-German sentiment, how Minnesotans supplied food to win the war and WW1 shipbuilding in Duluth.

Fast Facts 1914

WW1 America: Fast Facts 1914

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Fast Facts 1914

America’s WW1 experience, both at home and abroad, informs the nation we live in today. Here’s a look at America in 1914:

  • The country’s total population is 103 million (323 million today.)
  • About one out of seven people is foreign-born (about the same today.)
  • 90% of Americans are white (just over 62.6% are white today.)
  • One-third of all Americans are younger than 15 (20% of all Americans are younger than 15 today.)
  • The median age is 25 (the median age is nearly 40 today.)
  • More Americans live in rural areas than in cities and towns (more than 80% of Americans reside in cities and suburbs today.)
  • Women make up one-fifth of the paid workforce.
  • Women have full voting rights in 11 states, mostly in the West.
  • The average manufacturing job pays 53 cents an hour.
  • The federal income tax—created by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution—has only been in effect since 1913. Just one in ten Americans pays any income tax.
  • Fewer than one in four adults owns an automobile.
  • About a third of American households have a telephone.
  • There are 16 teams in Major League Baseball (not counting the segregated Negro Leagues.) The westernmost major league city is St. Louis, which supports two teams.
Images

WW1 America: Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Images

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers and online to promote “WW1 America,” April 8-Sept. 4, 2017, at the Minnesota History Center. Credit information is listed.

 

Great Migration

Union Terminal, Jacksonville, Florida, 1921

Booming war industries and the oppression of Jim Crow accelerated the phenomenon known as “The Great Migration” of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North during WW1.

Metro Jacksonville Photographs

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Food poster

“The Spirit of ‘18-- The World Cry, Food: Keep the Home Garden going,” by artist William McKee, 1918

America shipped enormous amounts of aid to war-torn Europe, including nearly six million tons of food (mostly flour). At their peak during this time, Minneapolis mills produced 46,000 barrels of flour per day in 1916 alone. Around the country families contributed by rationing, championed by the U.S. Food Administration slogan “Food Will Win the War.”

Library of Congress

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RMS Lusitania chair

Deck chair from the RMS Lusitania, 1907

The luxurious RMS Lusitania, built in 1906 for Cunard Line, was attacked and sunk in May 1915 by a German U-boat. Nearly 1,200 people died, including 124 Americans. Passengers received pairs of chairs like this one as souvenirs after a 1907 crossing.  

National World War I Museum and Memorial

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Flu victims

Naval Training Station, San Francisco, California, 1918-1919

In 1918 and 1919, a pandemic of influenza claimed as many as 100 million lives worldwide, with an estimated 675,000 lives lost in the United States. U.S. military men suffered too, with more than half of all deaths during the war coming from influenza and its complications. This photo shows a crowded sleeping area for sick soldiers at the Naval Training Station in San Francisco.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command

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Doughboy helmet

"Doughboy" helmet worn by Norman F. Claussen and portrait, St. Paul, about 1916-1918

Norman F. Claussen of St. Paul was a first lieutenant with the 15th Field Artillery in the National Guard and served in the Mexican Border conflict in 1916. In 1917, he served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. He received the Silver Star for “gallantry in action” and for “brilliant leadership” during his tour. In October 1918, shortly after returning to the United States, he died of influenza.

MNHS

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Norman F. Claussen

Norman F. Claussen portrait

MNHS

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Ruth Weir flag

American flag, 1918

In the fall of 1918, Ruth Weir, a nurse from Faribault, was assigned to a British hospital in Rouen, France, where many men were dying of pneumonia, influenza, gas attacks and wounds. Weir and her fellow American nurses used this American flag to cover “the bodies of our boys.”

MNHS

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1918 machine gun

Machine gun, about 1918

Advances in technology, such as machine guns, artillery shells, poison gas, tanks and planes, resulted in unprecedented death rates during WW1. This is a French armed forces Model 1915 Chauchat 8 mm. Light Machine Gun.

MNHS

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St. Paul Equity Club suffrage banner

Suffrage banner used by the St. Paul Political Equity Club, 1910-19

Women had gained the right to vote in many states but it wasn’t until 1919, because of protests during WW1, that a constitutional amendment passed. Many suffrage organizations around the country, including the St. Paul Political Equity Club, marched in support of the amendment.

MNHS

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Houdini handcuffs

Handcuffs belonging to Harry Houdini and poster, about 1900-26, 1908

Born in 1874 in Budapest, Harry Houdini came to America with his family in 1878. By 1900, the master illusionist and escape artist traveled the vaudeville circuit, dazzling crowds by escaping from manacles, straitjackets, chains, coffins and even jail cells submerged underwater. During the war, Houdini started making movies, too.

History Museum at the Castle, Appleton, Wisconsin

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Houdini poster

History Museum at the Castle, Appleton, Wisconsin

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Photo of Madam C. J. Walker, 1915

Sarah Breedlove was born in Delta, Louisiana in 1867 and was the only one of her five siblings born into freedom. In 1906, Breedlove changed her name to Madam C.J. Walker, after her third husband. Using that name she created a hair care empire, becoming the first female self-made millionaire in America. Walker was a major supporter of African-American troops, and an outspoken advocate for racial justice.

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History

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165th Infantry coming through Victory Arch, New York City, April 28, 1919

The Great War came to an end with the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, more than four years after it started. More than two million American troops began returning home. Communities across the country erected temporary “victory arches” as centerpieces for parades of returning soldiers.

National Archives and Records Administration

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transcontinental telephones

These “candlestick” telephones were used to make the world’s first transcontinental calls. A few weeks before the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the American Telephone & Telegraph Company set up calls between New York City and San Francisco—an occasion widely celebrated as the dawn of a new era in American communications.

AT&T Archives

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Thomas Woodrow Wilson, a Southern-born progressive Democrat, was first elected US president in 1912. When war broke out in Europe in 1914, he maintained a position of strict neutrality, but on April 3, 1917, just weeks after his second inauguration--Wilson called for American entry into the war.  Even before the war was over, Wilson was laying the groundwork for the postwar peace which included American-style progressivism in a global setting--and a call for a “league of nations.”

National Museum of American History

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WW1 America ambulance

This is a WW1 America ambulance, recreated from used and new parts, following plans from the Ford Motor Company's original 1918 design. 

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US Draft Bowl

Bowl used in first United States Selective Service Draft, July 20, 1917.

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Suffrage Banner

This banner was used by members of the National Woman’s Party in their protests outside the White House in 1917. The protests were the first of their kind at the White House for any cause. Women won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920.

National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, Washington, DC. www.nationalwomansparty.org

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Spokespeople

WW1 America: Spokespeople

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 27, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org

WW1 America: Spokespeople

Brian Horrigan, exhibit developer
Brian Horrigan has been an MNHS exhibit developer since 1990, working on exhibits and interpretive trail projects at the History Center and MNHS historic sites, including Split Rock Lighthouse, Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site and the Forest History Center. His most recent exhibits include “We Are Hmong Minnesota,” “The 1968 Exhibit” and “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.”

Interview subjects:

  • The development and elements of the “WW1 America” exhibit
  • U.S. and WW1 history and Minnesota’s role in the war

Randal Dietrich, program specialist
Randal Dietrich works with partner organizations and individual educators, authors and artists to develop programs related to the anniversary of the U.S. entry into WW1. Dietrich has served as project manager for the MNHS initiatives “Minnesota and the Civil War” and “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.”

Interview subjects:

  • The significance of the commemoration and an overview of related programs
  • WW1 history and Minnesota’s role in the war

Adam Scher, senior curator and exhibit collections representative
Adam Scher works with the three-dimensional artifact collections at MNHS and has curated the artifacts for the “WW1 America” exhibit and the collections-based WW1 Daybook project. Scher formerly served as vice president of operations for the American Civil War Center in Richmond, Virginia.

Interview subjects:

  • Artifacts from “WW1 America” exhibit, WW1 America Daybook project
  • U.S. and WW1 history and Minnesota’s role in the war

Jessica Ellison, education specialist
Jessica Ellison is part of the team that develops educational programs at MNHS and is leading the creation of new WW1 America curriculum. Ellison has been a teacher educator at MNHS since 2004, creating and delivering teacher professional development and classroom materials.
Interview subjects:

  • WW1-related educational programs
  • Learning connections for students visiting “WW1 America” exhibit

Annette Atkins, historian
Annette Atkins is professor emerita of history at Saint John's University and the College of Saint Benedict. Her publications include “Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out,” ”The State We're In,” and “Walk a Century in My Shoes.” She is an adviser for the “WW1 America” project.

Interview subjects:

  • Women in WW1, immigrants and nativism, German-Americans and WW1