Browsing Tag:

World War I

Knights HistoryCast: A Podcast Interview with Dr. John Morrow

Back in April of this year, I was honored to have had the chance to interview the University of Central Florida’s History Department’s 2017 Pauley Speaker Series on Global Affairs lecturer, Dr. John Morrow, for the History Department’s new Podcast series, Knights HistoryCast. Dr. Morrow is the Franklin Professor of History at the University of Georgia and author of a number of books, including Only America Left Her Negro Troops Behind: The African American Military in the First World War. His lecture centered on his research, how Americans neglected to see the contributions to the war effort by African American soldiers, even afraid that African American accomplishments of the war would agitate America’s segregated society.

In this interview, Dr. Morrow discusses a number of aspects from his lecture and his book.

To listen to this interview through iTunes, please click here. For a direct MP3 link to the interview, please click here.


Remembering the USA’s Entry into World War I

This last Thursday, April 6th, a small group of us from my department went to Florida National Cemetery for a number of projects, including the Florida in World War I Project. The cemetery, which is in Sumter County, is over 500 acres with over 100,000 internments. The cemetery is vast, pristinely kept, and honors veterans from numerous wars including the First World War.

April 6th marked the one hundred year centenary that the United States officially entered the ‘war to end all wars’. The United States had remained neutral during the first two and a half years; however, for a variety of reasons, President Woodrow Wilson, the man whose presidental reelection campaign centered on his keeping the USA out of war, went to and asked Congress on April 2nd to have the United States declare war on Germany. He argued that the world needed to “be made safe for democracy.” On April 6th, Wilson’s request was answered and the United States officially entered the war it was divided over. There are many debates as to whether or not the United States should have participated in the war, but the reality is whether or not the United States should or should not have entered the war, the United States did enter the war. I am not going to go into that debate or give my argument of what I believe to be the reasons why the United States entered the war. Instead, I want to reflect on my time at the cemetery on that one hundred year cenntenial.

I was honored to be at the cemetery on the centennial of the USA’s entry in the First World War to commemorate those that served. Being there reminded me that the First World War is comprised of so many individuals that sacrificed so much- not just for themselves, but for so many others. It reminded too, that there are still those who do the same now.

Below is a photograph of one of the many monuments/memorials placed in the cemetery. It was incredible to see these monuments/memorials and their dedications. The one below is dedicated to Florida veterans of World War I. The quote on the right side of the monument is from the famous “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian physician in the war, who died before the end of the war from pneumonia.

When I decided to center my research on the First World War, I was specifically drawn in by how many lives it affected and the ways it affected those lives. Going to the cemetery reminded of how war is comprised of individuals reaffirms how important it is to remember and commemorate. I hope that not only with my research and the Florida in World War I Project helps to remember and commemorate those lives.

Some of the Florida in World War I Project team at the gravesite of World War I army veterans Robert Gerlach; (L-R: Kayla Campana, Dr. Barbara Gannon, Tyler Campbell, Drew Fulcher)


London Day 7: Research at the Imperial War Museum

Yesterday I spent some time in the Research Room at the Imperial War Museum. They were kind enough to pull some items from their archives for me. Let me say that if you are ever going to do research at the Imperial War Museum, they make it an incredibly easy and smooth process. All I had to do was search their collections online and fill out a form online with the catalogue information of the items I wanted. I cannot remember how long they say to wait for a response as to whether or not they can accommodate your request, but I heard back in less than 24 hours. In reserving a time, they have two time slots- 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Once they have approved your request, you receive an email with all of the instructions on how to prepare, as well as what you can and cannot bring.

I was a little nervous yesterday morning as I was not entirely sure of what to expect, but when I arrived at my designated time of 10am everything I requested was already pulled and ready to go. The woman who was there (I wish I could remember her name!) was friendly and great in explaining what I could and could not do. Their rules are extremely straightforward. I was allowed a pencil, paper and my laptop if I so chose. I was also allowed a camera, but three things: no flash, no shutter noise and it cost £10 for a camera pass for the day. I was going to purchase the pass before I sat down with the materials, but the woman who helped me gave great advice- look at what I have first and then get the pass if necessary as they do not offer refunds on the pass. After looking at the things they pulled for me, I ran and grabbed a pass right away. I wish I could share the photos of the amazing things I looked at, but per the agreement with the Imperial War Museum, I cannot digitally share the photos online. If I ever decide I would like to use the materials in a publication, the woman also gave me information on how I could go about it; however, this is not the case, so I cannot share the photographs.

You are allowed three items at a time at the desk space. I had three war nurse personal papers pulled. The first set of papers I opened ended up being more so focused on the Second World War. I scanned through the papers to see if I could find anything of interest for my research, but it was out of my date range and there really was not reference pertaining to my research. The other two items I had pulled are gold for my research. The first one is a sort of hybrid scrapbook-diary from a nurse in World War I. I think a lot of the written portions of the book were extracts from her diaries and personal letters and then she had so many newspaper clippings, photos, ration books, medical papers, pamphlets- it was everything any historian could ever dream of, and it was right there in my hands. The book contains about a 100 pages (maybe more), so for the sake of time, I followed the advice of my professors and snapped photos of everything before sitting and reading. That process took some time, but it was well worth it. Now I have the pages to go back to and look at more in depth. After photographing for my research, I sat and just took in the book itself, slowly scanning the pages and looking at each item this nurse chose to include.

The other item I had pulled was a set of three journals from another nurse. These journals are difficult to read due to the handwriting, but I lucked out- there was a partial transcription of the journals with the physical journals. I am excited to utilize these in my research as well.

I am set to return to the Research Room at the IWM before I leave London. I was originally scheduled for one more session, but the staff at the IWM helped me get another. It really has been an absolute privilege to have not only visited the IWM’s exhibits, but to research there has been a dream come true. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have been given.


London Day 6: Shakespeare’s Globe, Science Museum, & Victoria and Albert Museum

I have truly fallen in love with this city. Today (or yesterday as this post is going up a day later) was another day filled with history and (as I overly used in my last post) full of surreal moments.

Day six in London began on the tube, as it does every day. I think I finally have the tube system down. I was nervous when I first arrived that I would not be able to figure it out and somehow find myself lost, but it really has proven simple- and very quick. But I digress. I made my way to Blackfriars Station and after a lengthy walk, I was at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos from the inside. The Company was rehearsing a new production of The Taming of the Shrew and no photographs were allowed; however, if you have never been, take my word for it that it was incredible. I was told by the guide that everything, while constructed in the 1990s, was constructed as it would have been when the first Globe Theatre was constructed in the the late 1500s- even down to the roof, which apparently is the only one like it in the city of London since the type of roof they have has been illegal since the 1600s, at least according to the guide. Apparently it took a decade (or more) to get the city of London to grant permission to have such a roof. Maybe it is banal, but I thought it was interesting.

Following my time at the Globe, I made my way to South Kensington Station and explored two museums: the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. My interest in the Science Museum was due to an exhibit they currently have on display called Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Car. The exhibit discusses just as it is titled and focuses on the First World War. Just as with the Imperial War Museum, my research came to life. I will post more about my research, but it deals with not only the First World War, but the wounded in the war, so this exhibit was another moment of connecting with my research. I took well over 100+ photographs of the exhibit. Though relatively small, I was in it for nearly two hours and walked through it a second time.

If I have time I want to go back to the museum and go through the exhibit again- take some more photos and notes while I am there.

After the Science Museum (which has a number of other amazing items and exhibits) I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. I must admit I was highly overwhelmed by how much they have there. That is definitely an all day trip if you want to see everything- if that is even possible. I spent a few hours there, but did not even skim the surface.

The pieces they have in the museum are spectacular, but I think the museum itself, the building, is stunning. As with the Science Museum, if I have time I am going to go back; however, I think I am going to do a little bit more research, seeing what they have and prioritizing.

Tomorrow morning (or when this post goes up- today) I get to research at the Imperial War Museum. They have a few items waiting for me and hopefully I can get a few more pulled. After more research I have found a number of other items I really want to see and possibly use in my research. Hopefully they will be able to help or maybe they can pull the items for my second appointment that I have before I leave.

Anyway, I am off to try and figure out my last week here. I have a lot left to do and want to be sure I plan out my days to get the most out of them.