Cincinnati Museum Center commemorating US entry into World War I

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is commemorating the centennial of United States’ entry into World War I with a free lecture, online exhibit and blog series. CMC’s commemoration kicks off with a free lecture on Thursday, April 6, 100 years to the day that America declared war.

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. officially threw its hat in the ring and entered World War I. The United States had remained neutral through enemy attacks and diplomatic scheming for nearly three years before President Woodrow Wilson finally asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in 1917. In just over a year and a half, 4 million American men would be mobilized for war. Thousands of woman would cross the Atlantic to serve with the Red Cross and YMCA in hospitals near the battlefields. At home, men and women ramped up industrial production to supply and feed the American, British and French armies and helped finance the war through the purchase of Liberty Bonds.

Dr. Amanda McVety, associate professor of history at Miami University, is exploring the diplomatic jockeying that led to America’s entry into World War I in a free lecture on Thursday, April 6 at the Mercantile Library . Though President Wilson was narrowly reelected in November 1916 on a platform to keep America out of the war, he changed course by April 1917, asking Congress for a declaration of war. The diplomatic and military ramp up for war and the implications that followed the war’s end dramatically altered global politics and an entire generation.

David Conzett, curator of history objects and fine art for Cincinnati Museum Center, will showcase collection items from the Great War and discuss the local connections to the conflict prior to the lecture. “The Yanks Are Coming”: U.S. Entry into World War I is free but registration is recommended.

Blog series spotlights local stories on the international stage

Off the Shelf , CMC’s curator-authored blog, will feature an ongoing series about the impact of World War I locally and the men, women and businesses that contributed to the Allied victory. Off the Shelf provides a behind-the-scenes look at CMC’s collections, using objects, documents, photographs and artwork to tell stories of heroism and sacrifice. Examine the dented helmet of Ralph J. Wikan, a Marine lieutenant awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for crossing a field of artillery, rifle and machine gun fire to carry a wounded comrade to safety. Pore over the photographs of Felix J. Koch, a newspaper photographer who captured the war preparations, anti-German hysteria and welcome home parades of the Queen City during the war. And read the citation accompanying a French Croix de Guerre awarded to Maria Clinton Herron for her courage during a German artillery attack while serving in a field hospital with the YMCA.

Meet CMC’s curators, tour the collections and follow Off the Shelf online at .

Online exhibit features World War I propaganda posters

A collection of World War I posters make up World War I Propaganda Posters: Art That Shaped History , an online exhibit demonstrating the large-scale publicity campaign needed to mobilize men and money quickly. These posters served as an inexpensive and eye-catching method to arouse public emotion and unify support for the war. Nearly 3,000 posters were designed during the war by volunteer artists in service to government and civilian agencies and printed in mass quantities. Several posters were designed by Cincinnatians and produced by the Cincinnati-based Strobridge Lithographing Company.

Some of the highly-stylized posters capitalized on the stereotype of Germans as warmongering barbarians threatening the women and children of Europe and, unless American men enlisted, those of the United States. Other posters depicted heroic American soldiers rushing forward with flags waving or wounded but smiling with a smoldering battlefield in the background. Posters even called for women to volunteer as nurses or to work in factories building planes, bombs and bullets.

The 18 posters represent a small sample of the more than 300 posters in CMC’s collections from World War I.

World War I, more appropriately called the Great War at the time, was the world’s first global conflict, drawing over 20 nations into the war with a combined 70 million troops battling across Europe, Africa and Asia on land, on sea and in the air from 1914-1918. The war was a ghastly intersection of technology and brutality that scarred generations, destroyed empires and ignited revolutions that would change the 20th century. Its punitive peace treaty paved the way for another great global conflict just 20 years after the first war ended.

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