New exhibit at National Historic Site in Mt. Vernon explores America and World War I
An exhibition exploring America and World War I is now on display at St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site, in Mt. Vernon, NY. Using prints, artifacts, art work, photographs, models and sound, the exhibit is designed to commemorate the centennial of American entry into the Great War in April 1917.
The exhibit narrative explores the period of 1914 to 1917, while the war waged in Europe, and America waited impatiently on the sidelines, hoping to conflict would end without the need for U.S. involvement. It also reviews the context of American entry. Panels explain that America’s active participation was relatively brief. The U.S. declared war on April 6, 1917, and the Armistice ended the conflict 19 months later, on November 11, 1918. The period of heavy combat was even shorter, with soldiers fighting on the battlefields of France in large numbers only from May through November 1918. But for such a short duration of intense conflict, the war was costly; about 116,000 Americans died in the line of duty, including five service members buried at St. Paul’s. Photographs, documents and text chronicle innovative approaches to funding the war’s enormous cost and to guaranteeing public support for the expedition.
Through the display, visitors learn that on the home front, public support for the war was expressed through a variety of war bond campaigns and patriotic programs. Portions of the population, especially women and African Americans, who had not achieved full rights of citizenship, demanded that a war for democracy include greater inclusion at home.
Highlights of the exhibit include a gas mask used on the battlefields of Europe, original documents reflecting the war’s impact on the community, recordings of songs from the World War I era, and an American soldier uniformed and equipped with original materials.
The exhibition was made possible in part through a grant from Humanities New York. It will remain on display at St. Paul’s through November 2018. Admission is free.
An American soldier uniformed and equipped with original materials