It’s January 1917. As a New Year dawns, a global war of unprecedented scope and destruction is at the top of the political agenda in every major country, belligerent or neutral. Great Britain, ruler of a world-wide empire, has a new Prime Minister. Russia, a major Entente power, is in political turmoil following the murder of Grigori Rasputin, a confidant of the royal family, by monarchists who feared his influence. Russia’s offensive against Austria-Hungary has ended in stalemate, as have the German siege of Verdun and the Anglo-French attack on the Somme. Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, whose nephew’s murder two and a half years ago led to the outbreak of the war, has died; the new emperor is his grand-nephew Charles. The United States, the largest and most important of the neutral nations, has just elected Woodrow Wilson to a second term under the slogan “He kept us out of war.” One of his first acts after the election was to asked the warring powers to state their war aims, asserting that the two sides’ stated objectives “are virtually the same.” Germany has proposed a peace conference to be held in a neutral country, but has declined to state its position in advance, leading the Entente nations to denounce its proposal as a “sham.” German military leaders, increasingly in the ascendant, are pressing for a resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare.
Unfortunately for those of us sitting in the center of the country, we may not get to Washington to see or hear them. If we’re lucky, C-SPAN will tape them for later viewing.
The January issue of Smithsonian Magazine had a short article about the first jazz recording. Click here to read the article online. The article features a recording of “Livery Stable Blues” by the Original Dixieland ‘Jass” Band.
By the time of this recording, jazz was already familiar in places like New Orleans, and during WWI, it would get a big boost in Europe thanks to the 369th Infantry “Harlem Hellfighters” band, led by James Reese Europe. We suspect there will be reason to talk more of Europe and his band later.
C-SPAN3’s programming this weekend includes three World War I presentations, two which are repeating and one talk airing for the first time.
First up is “World War I Combat Artists,” which is repeating from last weekend. The talk is by National Archives volunteer Jan Hodges, and discusses the photos of WWI artwork housed in the Archives. It airs Saturday morning February 4th at 8:25 a.m. CT.
A reminder that on Friday, February 10, 2017, Lora Vogt, Curator of Education for the National World War I Museum and Memorial, will speak on “Make Way for Democracy!: African Americans In World War I,” at the Kansas Museum of History (Kansas Historical Society) in Topeka. The talk is at 6:30 p.m. in the Museum classrooms. Learn more by visiting our Upcoming Events page.
2nd Lieutenant Elbert Sanford Wright was born January 25, 1894 at Baldwin City, Kansas. He was a graduate of the local university, Baker, which made him eligible to attend the officers’ training school at Fort Des Moines. While he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, we do not have information about which unit he belonged.
Interested in the work of the Kansas WW1 Centennial Committee? Check out the meeting minutes from our last meeting! Meeting Minutes from the December 7, 2016, committee meeting have been posted to the website. Click here to read them.
Our next meeting is scheduled for March 8th at 1:30 p.m. at the Kansas Historical Society.
1st Lieutenant John E. Wilson was born December 4, 1881 at Mobile, Alabama. He had been working as a porter in 1901 when he enlisted in the 9th U.S. Cavalry, one of the “Buffalo Soldier” regiments. He served for six years, and records found so far suggest he never rose above being a private. However, since attendance at the officers’ training school at Fort Des Moines required either being a non-commissioned officer or a college education, one may assume he did reach at least the rank of corporal, as there is no indication of a college education.
There were a great many trees planted in the 1920’s and 30’s to recognize persons who died in World War 1. There is a poignant quality about living memorials that surpasses that of statues or tablets. However, trees don’t live forever. In the future we may look at some of these memorials, groves or even small forests that have died away in the ensuing 90 years or so.
If your organization is interested in hosting a free, open to the public screening of the film on April 10th, 11th and 12th, 2017, click here to sign up with PBS.