(Re-posted from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library website.)

Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I

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“Recovering torpedo,” circa 1918, location unknown, by Enrique Muller
National Archives, War Department General and Special Staffs

“Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I” showcases WWI overseas military photography from the immense photographic holdings of the National Archives. The exhibition includes photographs from the fronts, behind the lines, the consequences of the war and how it was remembered. This exhibit will be on display in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery Nov 9, 2018 – Jan 6, 2019.

Organized in three sections, “Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I” documents America’s role on the battle front during the Great War. After the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, millions of American men joined or were drafted into the armed services. Approximately 2 million served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces.

Behind the Lines

Of the millions of Americans who enlisted or were drafted, 60 percent served in noncombat support roles. These photographs show the complexities of transporting and maintaining an army in an industrial era and hint at some of the rapid changes in technology, medicine, armaments and even social relations within the military.

Battle Fronts

“A French and American raiding party of the 168th Infantry going ‘over the top’ with sacks of hand grenades,” March 17, 1918, Badonviller, France, by Sgt 1st Class Charles White
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer

Each combat division was assigned a photographic unit that included both still and motion picture cameramen. Military photographers did not shy away from shots that included dead and wounded soldiers or the war’s destructiveness. They especially show the expressions on the faces of Americans at war.

War’s End

Parts of the U.S. military—including many Signal Corps photographers—remained in Europe for months after the armistice, as did American photojournalists. Together, they created a visual record of the shattered landscape, the post-war peace conference and returning prisoners of war.

This exhibition was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, and is traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service.



Programs and Events

Modern Weapons in WWI
Mon, Nov 5 | 7-8:30pm
Marvin Auditorium 101A
During WWI many modern weapons were introduced including the airplane. Dr. Mark Hull from Command Staff College in Leavenworth will discuss how the plane became an important weapon in the war.

Over There: Opening Reception
Fri, Nov 9 | 4-8 pm
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
Explore our trench, make poppies and listen to songs of the time.

Treaty of Versailles
Tue, Nov 13 | 7-8 p.
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
100 years ago this month the WWI ended with the peace treaty of Versailles. KU History Professor Dr. Nathan Land will discuss how the treaty impacted the future of the world. Rather than bringing a lasting peace, the treaty set the stage for future conflicts.

Over There: First Friday
Fri, Dece 7 | 4-8pm
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
Explore the trenches of WWI, interact with local military re-enactors and learn about the “War to end all Wars” through photographs of the time.

Kansans on the Battlefields of the Great War
Wed, Dec 12 | 7-8pm
Marvin Auditorium 101A
Examine the training and military actions Kansas citizens faced as they fought in WWI with Master Sergeant Jeremy Byers, Command Historian, Kansas Army and Air National Guard

The World War I Virtual Reality Experience
Wed, Dec 12 | 3:30-4:30pm
Sat, Dec 15 | 11am-1pm
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery
Explore the trenches and battlefields of WWI through 3D Virtual Reality. Make history come alive!

The World War I Virtual Reality Experience
Mon, Dec17 | 1-2 pm
Marvin Auditorium 101C
Explore the trenches and battlefields of WWI through 3D Virtual Reality. History will come alive!

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.