Last year, after the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a $550,000 grant to the Library of America, the organization established a two-year traveling exhibition of documents, images and interpretive texts commemorating World War I. The exhibition, which will travel to all 50 states, makes its way, this week, to Elizabethtown College, one of just 120 libraries on the tour.
“WWI and America Exhibition,” presented in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial and other organizations, begins Thursday, Feb. 1, and continues during regular library hours through Feb. 28 at the College’s High Library.
The college has scheduled a special lecture reception for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14. The reception features a buffet lunch and guest lecturer, Chelsea Schields, who will speak on “Defining the Nation: Gender, Race and Belonging in World War I.”
From 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, a panel discussion, “WWI and America,” takes place in the College’s Gibble Auditorium in Esbenshade Hall. Professor of History Brian Newsome leads the discussion, which include veterans and conscientious objectors.
Panelists reflect on readings in “WWI and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It” as well as their personal experiences of peace and war. The participants will be asked to address such complex themes as patriotism, pacifism and America’s role in the international community.
On display, along with the traveling exhibit are selections from the College’s Hess Archives that highlight student, faculty and community attitudes toward the war and participation in the war.
“The High Library is excited to partner with the College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking to bring “WWI and America” to Elizabethtown,” said Rachel Grove Rohrbaugh, archivist for High Library. “The exhibition is the culmination of a year of programming that has highlighted Elizabethtown’s faculty’s expertise on the WWI era. We have been delighted with the community turnout so far and look forward to welcoming visitors to the exhibition and our two remaining programs.”
Organized to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the nation’s entry into the war, the national project brings members of the veteran community together with the general public in libraries and museums around the country to explore the transformative impact of the First World War by reading, discussing and sharing insights into the writings of Americans who experienced it firsthand.
Providing scholar-moderated opportunities for those who served in more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to bring their experiences to bear on historical events and texts, the project will illuminate for a wide audience the lasting legacies of World War I, and the similarities and differences between past and present.
“‘WWI and America’ marks 100 years since the United States entered World War I,” said Grove Rohrbaugh. “The exhibition and associated programs give us the opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary impact of this seminal conflict. A vibrant and critical analysis of WWI is very much in keeping with the college’s mission, which affirms the values of peace, non-violence, human dignity and social justice.”
Cost of the event is free.