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.”
Read (or listen to) this NPR story about videos that describe what happened during WWI on a week by week basis. http://www.npr.org/2014/11/23/366084639/podcast-on-wwi-builds-a-week-by-week-horror-story
By Donna Peck
November 12, 2014
When the United States entered the First World War in 1917, the U.S. Army mobilized medical resources in major American cities to create 100 large base hospitals that would be located miles behind the front but immediately accessible by highly efficient ambulance trains. One of those hospitals was Base Hospital #28, the military base hospital that was formed by Kansas City doctors and nurses and located in Limoges, France. The hospital was led by doctors who were affiliated with the University of Kansas School of Medicine before and after The Great War. Initially planned for 500 beds, the hospital expanded to nearly 3,000 beds as battle casualties and influenza epidemic patients poured in.
Now the University of Kansas Medical Center has a website devoted to the history and stories about Base Hospital #28. The website is a cooperative effort of KU Medical Center and The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.
One of the driving forces behind the Medicine in the First World War website is Frederick Holmes, M.D., a professor in the Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine and the Hashinger Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, at the KU School of Medicine. Holmes, who collaborated on the website with his KU colleagues, Anthony Kovac, M.D., professor of anesthesiology, and Grace Holmes, M.D., professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine emeritus, said it is important that the story of Base Hospital #28 be remembered.
“I think particularly as the centennial of the First World War approaches, more people will be interested in how medicine was practiced in the European theater of operations,” Holmes said. “The doctors and nurses who were associated with the KU Schools of Medicine and Nursing had some very compelling stories to tell.”
Holmes said records of Base Hospital #28 are extensive and include a variety of reports, patient records, hospital records, x-rays, statistical data, and over 1,000 black and white images from photo albums and scrapbooks detailing medical and hospital practice.
The primary source of the materials included on the website are the archives of the National World War I Museum and of KU Medical Center, including the personal diaries of doctors and nurses who served during the war.
“As much material we have been able to include on the website, there are volumes more that we have yet to get through,” Holmes said.
In addition to an in-depth history of Base Hospital #28, the website features scholarly essays on topics related to World War I military medicine. Essay topics include “Blood Transfusions during the First World War” and “Typhus on the Eastern Front.”
Holmes said he anticipates that more historical materials and essays will be added to the Medicine in the First World War website in the coming months and years. He said those working on the website will continue to speak and publish, will sponsor exhibits at the Clendening History of Medicine Museum, and will encourage hospitals and other medical facilities in the Kansas City region to recognize the centennial of the Great War in a variety of ways.
“The doctors and nurses from our area who served at Base Hospital #28 made a tremendous contribution to the U.S. war effort,” Holmes said. “We want to make sure that their stories are told and preserved.
Have you seen The Guardian‘s amazing interactive guide to the first world war? It’s worth checking out!
Ten historians from 10 countries give a brief history of the first world war through a global lens. Using original news reports, interactive maps and rarely-seen footage, including extraordinary scenes of troops crossing Mesopotamia on camels and Italian soldiers fighting high up in the Alps, the half-hour film explores the war and its effects from many different perspectives. You can watch the documentary in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi thanks to our partnership with the British Academy.
–The Guardian, July 23, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 4:00 pm
Strong Hall Lawn
KU ROTC’s annual Veterans Day Flag Ceremony will take place on the lawn in front of Strong Hall. All ROTC programs will participate in the event which will last approximately 15 minutes.
Nov 8, 10:00 am to Nov 9, 11:00 am
Korean War, Vietnam War and Carillon/Campanile WWII Memorials
Memorial Drive, KU
The KU ROTC programs will conduct a 24-hour Veterans Day Vigil at three on-campus war memorials. Two Cadets in dress uniform will stand guard at each memorial throughout the 24-hour period. The start of the vigil will be marked by a bugler playing Taps at top of the Campanile. Cadets will be stationed at the Korean War, Vietnam War and Carillon/Campanile WWII Memorials. As a note, the Memorial Union, Memorial Stadium and Memorial Drive were constructed as memorials to those serving in WWI.