Tag Archives: World War I

NYT – “The Great War: A 100 Year Legacy of World War I” Interactive

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

My colleague and friend Kate Bloomfield, a teacher in the Social Studies department at Ransom Everglades School, forwarded me this great link for the New York Times: “The Great War: A 100 Year Legacy of World War I.”

The website includes articles, interviews, archived news reports, and interactive maps from World War I. This is a great resource for educators to teacher both contemporary reactions to war as well as its far reaching implications.

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WWI unfolds in 3 minutes across the Map

Courtesy of Open Culture check out this great 3:31 video demonstrating how WWI unfolded across the map in Europe.

The National Archives Needs Your Help to Transcribe WWI Diaries

The Smithsonian often reaches out to the public to help its transcription projects. The most recent is to help transcribe diaries from World War I.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The project is called Operation War Diary, and it comes from a partnership between the National Archives, the citizen science initiative Zooniverse and the Imperial War Museum in the UK. The diaries have all been scanned and posted online for citizen historians to look at and transcribe.

To participate, users just pick a diary and get started. They’re then given a scanned page to classify and document. Users are asked to take notes of particular data points—the date of the entry, whether the entry lists casualties, what people it mentions, if it has a map and more.

Currently, these documents are only available in paper form. However, the Smithsonian hopes to change that by making them fully digitized! To volunteer for this important project, please see their blog post here.

Huge amounts of new World War One goodies

If you’re interested in World War I, here are some great resources for you!

History Tech

Several years ago we got it with tons of American Civil War stuff because of the 150th anniversary thing. We’re about to get hit again with the 100th anniversary of World War One.

Get a head start by heading over to three new sites created by the University of Oxford:

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Gilder Lehrman/NEH Institute: The Empire City (Day 2)

So, at the end of a rather full Day 2, I have to admit that I’m a bit on “information overload,” so I’m a little… frazzled. As such, don’t be surprised to see some revisions on this over the next couple of days. It’s been a while since the sheer volume of information has left me felt… exhausted, yet it happened today (and I’m only in Day 1)!

This Seminar Focuses on the Empire City: New York City 1877-2001. It is hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and cosponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. There is no way that I can summarize the entirety of the day, I will just try to relate on some of the experiences that I had.

The first session focused on the resources available via the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. They house thousands of primary source documents related to American History and readily make these resources available to the public. If you have not done so, check out their Affiliate School Program (entirely free), their digital collection, and resources for educators. Their focus is on the importance and practical application of primary sources – they provide documents, resources, and lesson plans for educators (incorporated into common core standards).

The morning, we focused on “The RIse of New York to National Dominance,” in which Professor Kenneth Jackson brought forth the question (and possible answers to) “Why New York? Why did New York become the most prominent and important city in the United States over others like Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.” New York City has a unique history that has led to its (seemingly permanent) position as the economic and cultural capital of the United States. We discussed issues such as geography, economy, culture, and even ‘pure damn luck.’

The next hour we discussed the “Changing Role of Women in Post-Civil War America,” hostd by Professor Karen Markoe. She was quick to point out that investigating the role and position of 50% of the population in a century and a half period is an impossible task – yet feminist scholars always like to pigeon hole the role of women. She highlighted some common and well-recognized names: Margaret Sanger and Hetty Green (the Witch of Wall Street), but was quick to point out that we had only scratched the surface of prominent New York women.

The afternoon, we began to investigate the experience of literature in Gotham, specifically the work of Edith Wharton and her work The Age of Innocence as highlgihted by Professor John Rocco. We discussed the changing atmosphere of New York’s elite from the late 19th century through the “Jazz Age” (as higlighted by Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) – by the way, if you have not seen the preview of the new 2012 film “The Great Gatsby” it is a highly recommend! Even if the film is terrible, the preview is amazing!

The rest of the afternoon we spent at the New York Historical Society, examining primary source documents and learning about the many, many resources available at Giler Lehrman. It was a vastly stimulating and thoroughly exhausting day… and I’m only 20% through the experience!

Christmas Truce in No Man’s Land – December 1914

Men from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers meet their German counterparts in no man's land somewhere in the deadly Ypres Salient, December 26, 1914. (Smithsonian Magazine)

The famous (and at one time infamous) story of the Christmas Truce of World War I is one of the most indelible and inspiring stories in history. In December of 1914, a group of Germans in the trenches of “No Man’s Land” lit festive fires in their trenches, began singing Christmas carols, and sending wishes of a “Merry Christmas” to their adversaries on the other side.

In spite of its inspiration, the event (at the time) was highly controversial and a military logistical nightmare:

Their truce–the famous Christmas Truce–was unofficial and illicit. Many officers disapproved, and headquarters on both sides took strong steps to ensure that it could never happen again.

Later, in a letter home, an English soldier recorded the event in detail for his family:

‘Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.’ For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity—war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn—a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired.

To read more about the famous Christmas Truce, see the article on the Smithsonian Blog.

Unearthing the Hidden Tunnels of WWI

The trench warfare of World War I has almost entered the world of legend with stories of troops living in quarters two feet wide for months at a time. The realities of it were pain, discomfort, disease, and death. Often over-shadowed by the second World War, the trenches (many of which remain in France and other States on the front-line) un-excavated and forgotten – usually with warning signs posted to let others know the dangers of unexploded artillery and weaponry.

Archaeologists have begun to map and uncover one of the most extensive trench networks of the War at La Boisselle used prominently during the Somme Offensive. Military historian Jeremy Banning and his team are studying the land (only recently opened up to researchers by its private owners) and publishing their research for other scholars and to preserve the area as a memorial to those who died during the war.

You can read more about the project at the La Boisselle Study Group or in this BBC Article. You can also follow Jeremy Banning on twitter: @Jeremy Banning.