WWI artifacts, soldier’s letters on view in observance of 100th anniversary of Armistice Day | Arts & Culture

WWI artifacts, soldier’s letters on view in observance of 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

WWI artifacts, soldier’s letters on view in observance of 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Singing at Base Hospital #29, London, England, 1918. World War I Surgeon's Album. Graphics Division. William L. Clements Library.

The original words of Americans who fought in World War I are the basis for a new exhibition presented at the William L. Clements Library.

“‘Over There’ With the American Expeditionary Forces in France During the Great War” features collections preserved at the Clements Library and highlights the firsthand accounts of American soldiers serving in the First World War in 1917-18.

Handwritten letters, death reports, postcards and photographs provide glimpses of the day-to-day lives, longings and horrific realities of war they experienced while fighting “Over There” on the Western Front. The exhibition run aligns with the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that brought the fighting in France to an end on Nov. 11, 1918.

About 2 million men and women served with the American Expeditionary Forces overseas during World War I and more than 53,000 of them died from combat, according to Clements archivist and exhibition curator Louis Miller.

"Audenarde Belgium Nov 11/1918." C. Leroy Baldridge, "I was there" with the Yanks on the Western Front, 1917-1919 (New York, 1919). Book Division. William L. Clements Library.
This photograph of a wooden cross has a German inscription which translates to "Here rest 15 brave Americans." Signal Corps Photographs, 1918. United States Signal Corps Photograph Collection. Graphics Division. William L. Clements Library.
Rosa Heidler Lorenz at the Grave of Her Son Joseph Lorenz, Suresnes, France. May 18, 1930. Graphics Division. William L. Clements Library.
Grace D. Banker Collection. Manuscripts Division. William L. Clements Library. Excerpt Transcript: September 10, 1918, Somewhere in France. "Indeed I realize that it is a long while since I have written you, but time to write is pretty scarce these days. Then too I didn't have the heart to scribble many lines when I heard of my Father's death. I don't think I ever realized how far away I was until then. However so many homes are grieving these days that I feel as if I have no right to think over much of my own sorrow."
Grace D. Banker Collection. Manuscripts Division. William L. Clements Library.
Brewster E. Littlefield Collection, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection. Manuscripts Division. William L. Clements Library.

“‘Over There’ aims to present the experiences of the men and women who served,” Miller said. “And these stories of the American ‘doughboys’ sent to France are as insightful as they are tragic.”

Visitors have the opportunity to view both paper and three-dimensional objects relating to the First World War, including a gas mask, doughboy helmet, censored letters and an internal communique received by Douglas MacArthur while commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, among many more items.

The exhibition will be on view in the Avenir Foundation Reading Room at the Clements Library Nov. 2, 2018, until April 26, 2019. The exhibit is free and open to the public 10 a.m–4 p.m. Fridays. View the upcoming schedule at: myumi.ch/650X8

Related events:

Lecture: “WWI: What Shall We Do with Those Dead Over There?” 6 p.m. Nov. 5

Lisa Budreau, senior curator of military history at the Tennessee State Museum, will present on the saga of the First World War dead and the efforts of the living to honor the fallen. She will unravel the complex logistical, political and social dynamics that unfolded from 1919 until the early 1930s, and explore the development of the heritage landscapes created in an attempt to remember the apocalypse of the era. Budreau’s illustrated talk will be based on her book, “Bodies of War: World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933.” The lecture will take place at the Ross School of Business, Blau 1580, and is free and open to the public. Register at myumi.ch/6kZpW.

Exhibition tours: Nov. 2, Nov. 9, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21

The Clements Library offers regular exhibition tours that are free and open to the public. Register by clicking on the event link in the calendar at myumi.ch/650X8.