Dole Archives hosted visiting Professor Dr. Heather Perry (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and several KU classes in the Institute’s Reading Room. The group utilized historical materials from Dr. Perry’s studies as well as contemporary archival items from the Dole Archives and Special Collections. Working with Senior Archivist Audrey Coleman, Dr. Perry’s talk illustrated the way historical issues can inform our understanding of contemporary problems, and vice versa.
Followed by a reception and book-signing.
A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway was chosen as KU’s Common Book which is a campuswide initiative to engage first-year students.Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. From KU’s Office of First-Year Experience Common Book.
Please visit the KU European Studies WWI Centennial Commemoration page or visit the European Studies Facebook page for details about upcoming events, interesting resources, and groups participating in the KU Commemoration.
KU’s World War I Centennial Commemoration 2014-2018, coordinated by the European Studies Program, explores the historical dimensions of the War and the ways it continues to shape our lives and our understanding of contemporary conflict. European Studies is working with more than thirty KU units and with organizations and institutions in Lawrence and the region to develop, coordinate, and promote programs and educational opportunities related to the Great War.
Broadcast on KPR
Wed, Dec 24, 8:58 pm & Sat, Dec 27, 1:04 pm
Next week’s Postcard comes to you from KU’s European Studies Program and features the Christmas Truce of 1914! Postcards from Abroad brings you 60-second postcards full of quirky tidbits. Guest writers are from the different Area Studies Centers at the University of Kansas. This is collaboration between KPR and the Centers. KPR is on 91.5 FM in Lawrence. Listen to already broadcast Postcards from Abroad: http://audioboom.com/postcardsfromabroad
This week, KPR will mark the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when soldiers took a break from the horrors of World War I to share an evening of song, snacks, and soccer. Kaye McIntyre visits the The National World War I Museum in Kansas City to talk to Lora Vogt about the Christmas Truce, how the museum is marking the occasion this month, and their new on-line exhibit on the Truce.
On exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas
“At first we could cope; then we were overwhelmed by their numbers. They came in the hundreds, from all directions; some able to walk, others crawling, dragging themselves along the ground.” —Florence Farmborough, Red Cross nurse with the Imperial Russian army at Gorlice on the Eastern Front
Nursing played a crucial role during the First World War. Emergency medical practices evolved enormously during the war years (1914–1918) and thousands more medical workers were involved than in previous wars. New and innovative practices included blood transfusions, the use of antiseptics, local anesthetics, and painkillers. Throughout the War, membership in the American Red Cross grew from 17,000 to more than 20 million and 20,000 registered nurses were recruited for military service. In the United Kingdom, 38,000 members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment served in hospitals or worked as ambulance drivers and cooks.
This collection will be on exhibit from 09/16/2014 to 04/05/2015.
Please click here for more info: http://www.spencerart.ku.edu/programs/docs/WWI_Nurses6.pdf
In an oil painting hanging from a gallery wall on the fourth floor of the Spencer Museum of Art, a man’s saucer-shaped eye looks out from underneath the brim of a combat helmet adorned with a crown of barbed wire.
A wildly disheveled beard covers the lower half of his face, framed by a translucent circle that looks an awful lot like a halo.
The man in the painting appears holy, but in reality, he’s just a common French foot soldier without a name.
“We don’t know anything about the artist or if anyone posed for this,” says Spencer associate director Stephen Goddard. But, he says, it makes for a “very, very complex image.”
Identified only as “Poilu” — a nickname, literally meaning “hairy one,” given to France’s unshaven infantrymen entrenched in the battlefields — the painting is one of about 3,500 works of World War I-era art acquired earlier this year by the Spencer Museum.
A portion of the works, gifted by noted art historian and print dealer Eric G. Carlson, are on display now in two exhibitions curated by Goddard, who says the museum plans to rotate the collection in “thematically organized” installations through 2018.
The exhibitions are part of a university wide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, which resulted in the deaths of more than 16 million soldiers and civilians from 1914 to 1918.
Goddard says World War I set a lot of things in motion, including more sophisticated technology like armored tanks, poison gas, airplanes and the first-ever widespread use of machine guns.
The war also ushered in new medical developments and the creation of several modern nation states, particularly in the Middle East, Goddard says.
“We’re still living with a lot of repercussions of the First World War,” he says. “And of course, there’s always hope that by studying these events, we’ll be able to avoid them in the future. We don’t seem to quite have that figured out yet, but hope springs eternal, I think.”
Learning from the past
Celka Straughn, the museum’s director of academic programs, has led efforts to integrate the collection into various curriculums across KU.
She says the art can open up discussions about contemporary veterans issues, health care and the United States’ place in the world, among other topics.
“How we start to interpret the material plays a role in how we understand today and how we understand our past,” Straughn says.
Soon after the Carlson gift arrived last spring, Lorie Vanchena, who chairs KU’s WWI centennial planning committee and also serves as academic director of European Studies, brainstormed with university faculty at an advisory board organized by Straughn.
Discussing the collection and how it could be incorporated into various courses, Greg Rudnick, an assistant professor in astronomy and astrophysics, asked if the Spencer collection included images of projectiles.
Turns out, there are several. Rudnick said, “‘Great, I’ll bring my students,” Vanchena recalls.
“The possibilities are limitless,” says Vanchena, who has incorporated the art into many of her Germanic languages and literature courses. “I can’t think of any class on campus that could not use the collection in some meaningful way.”
The works are primary resources for students and faculty, meaning they were produced during the war (sometimes by those directly involved in the conflict, such as soldiers and Red Cross nurses) and offer a firsthand perspective of that period.
The “Poilu” painting, titled “1914–15 —etc., dedicated to Ch. O. Galtier” by a person simply known as Gairaud, belongs to “World War ! & The End of the Empires,” a seven-piece exhibition that accounts for nearly half of the paintings given to the museum by Carlson.
The collection also includes some textiles and decorative arts, though graphic art and works on paper make up an overwhelming majority, says Goddard, who also curated a larger exhibition on the museum’s third floor called “The Second Battlefield: Nurses in the First World War.”
Those pieces, most of which were produced in France, portray nurses as both heroic figures as well as brides of wounded soldiers. One large portfolio by real-life nurse Olga Bing features drawings of her experiences during the war.
“Everyone’s been pretty engaged by it, I think in part because it’s not exactly what you’d expect in a World War I exhibition,” he says. “There’s not a lot of overt propaganda and trench warfare and big political posters.”
In October, the museum hosted U.S. Marine veteran Folleh Tamba. There, against the backdrop of the “Nurses” exhibition, Tamba shared original poems he wrote while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, many of which were inspired by poetry of World War I. About 30 people, including some military-science students, attended the event.
As the current exhibitions wind down (both will remain on display through the end of 2014, though the Spencer’s upcoming renovations, slated for this spring, will dictate when they officially close), Goddard looks forward to the future of the collection.
The museum is seeking funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to process, photograph and catalog the entire collection, most of which is still “loose pieces of paper” stored in folders, Goddard says. It’s a slow and tedious endeavor that will involve numbering each piece, writing a description for it and entering it in the Spencer’s database.
The grant, if received, would also take care of other “housekeeping” tasks such as providing mats for the pieces.
Normally, stretching the work out over four years or so wouldn’t be a problem, but with 2015 fast approaching, museum staffers want to make as much of the collection available as possible before the end of the war centennial in 2018.
They’re hoping the NEH will help expedite that project. And by mid-spring, Goddard guesses, they’ll get their answer.
“We wrote a strong grant,” he says. “Now it’s a waiting game.”