doughboys with mules Mule Rearing gas masks pilots in dress uniforms The pilots African American Officers Riveters African American Soldiers 1

Welcome to the Georgia WWI Commission

"To Honor, Educate and Commemorate"

Berrien County Otranto and Doughboy Exhibit

Statue of the OTRANTO DOUGHBOY in front of the exhibit

In commemoration of the centennial of the wreck of the troop ship Otranto on Oct. 6, 1918, the Berrien County Historical Foundation has developed a new and permanent exhibit.  The display may now be viewed in the old Berrien County Courthouse in downtown Nashville, Ga.  The exhibit was produced completely by volunteers and private donations -- no tax dollars were utilized.  It will be dedicated during centennial ceremonies on Oct. 6, 2018 and will be open to the public hereafter.  For information contact Bryan Shaw, curator, Berrien Historical Foundation, P.O.Box 417, Nashville, Ga. 31639, e-mail


WWI Display in atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hosts this striking display on the World War I Centennial in a prominent area of its main atrium from July 2018 through January 2019. Prepared by the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission with the support of experts from the Atlanta History Center and the National Archives, the display includes uniform items and equipment worn by a Georgia soldier on the Western Front, the draft cards of prominent Georgians such as Ty Cobb and William Hartsfield, photographs of training bases in Georgia, original period Atlanta Journal newspapers, and other artifacts that tell the story of The Great War in Georgia.

The Georgia World War I Centennial Commission acknowledges with sincere appreciation the efforts of Kevin Edmiston of the Atlanta History Center and Nathan Jordan of the National Archives in preparing and installing this impressive display.

Picture fo the entire WW1 display at Hartsfield-Jackson International AirportTwo airport visitors observe the displayUS army issued wool jacket and German Picklehaube helmetPicture of standard US army issue eating utensils and dishesUS Army trench boots, foot powder box, shaving kit, first aid tinPicture of German Picklehaube helmet


Georgia and the Great War

 Highlights from Russell Library Collections

Exhibition:  Georgia and the Great War

University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries

Russell Library Gallery

Hull Street, Athens, Ga.

August 2018 through January 10, 2019

Free and open to the public


Tybee Island to Host a Memorial Dedication Ceremony to Honor the Sinking of the H.M.S. Otranto

This event unfortunately has been cancelled because of the approach of Hurricane Florence. It is not anticipated to be rescheduled. We encourage you (when you can safely do so) to visit the site and view the impressive historical marker that has been installed commemorating the centennial of the Otranto tragedy.

DEDICATION CEREMONY Of a Historical Marker to the sinking of the Troopship H.M.S. Otranto with 470 lives lost. Saturday, September 15, 2018 10:00 a.m. Fort Screven Museum at Battery Garland Meddin Drive, Tybee Island, Georgia American Legion Post 154 Color Guard Jason Buelterman, Tybee Island Mayor Reading a Proclamation from Governor Nathan Deal Lunch and Social Gathering 11:30 a.m. | American Legion Post 154 Screening of Islay: For Those in Peril 2:00 p.m. | Tybee Post Theatre

TYBEE ISLAND, Georgia (June 22, 2018) - The community of Tybee Island, Georgia, welcomes the public to attend a memorial dedication ceremony for a historical marker at Fort Screven in  honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the British Troopship, H.M.S. Otranto, followed by a special screening of the BBC Documentary, Islay, For Those in Peril. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Fort Screven Museum at Battery Garland in Tybee Island.

In September 1918, 2nd Lt Samuel E. Levy was ordered by the Commander of Fort Screven to lead a group of new recruits to the Western European Front following America’s entry into World War I. Levy departed Fort Screven with 574 Coastal Artillery Corps (CAC) officers and enlisted recruits and traveled to New York where they boarded the British Troopship, H.M.S Otranto. bound for port in Liverpool.

The H.M.S. Otranto collided with another British Troopship on Oct. 6, 1918 in a severe storm, killing 470 of the 1,025 US and British servicemen on board, resulting in the single greatest loss of life in troop transport during World War I. Of the 358 American casualties, more than 130 were from Georgia. The collision took place off the coast of Isle of Islay, Scotland, and the ship subsequently struck a reef off the rocky shore, broke in half and sank.

A memorial of the dead stands in Isle of Islay, Scotland, and a statue commemorating the American dead stands in Nashville, Georgia. A third memorial marker was dedicated in Sylvania, Georgia, in 2017 by the Georgia Historical Society and the VFW. Due to the number of troops from Fort Screven, Georgia, a memorial is being dedicated on the grounds of Fort Screven to mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy and to honor those that perished in the service of their country.

The ceremony will include a Presentation of Colors by the American Legion Post 154 Color Guard, remarks from Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman, and other dignitaries and families of descendants.

Guests are welcome to attend the ceremony on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided following the ceremony at the American Legion on Veterans Drive. A special screening of the BBC Documentary, Islay, For Those in Peril will be begin at 2 p.m. at the Fort Screven Post Theatre.


Georgia History Day 2018 - WWI Awards

The Georgia World War I Centennial Commission at its June 2018 meeting recognized two students who won its top awards in the National History Day Georgia 2018.  In partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council, the Centennial Commission sponsored special awards for outstanding research on WWI. 

The junior division recipient is Daniel Wright of Monroe, Ga.  He produced a documentary on the Treaty of Versailles, entitled “An Unpeaceful Treaty: How the Paris Compromise Ignited Conflict”, .  Daniel, his teacher and family receive a trip to Washington D.C. to participate in WWI Centennial activities.

The senior division recipient is Brooklyn Reese, of Thomasville, Ga.  She produced a display and presentation on “The Hello Girls of WWI”.  These French-speaking American young ladies were recruited by the United States Army to operate the telephone system in France for the military and their soldiers.  Brooklyn, her teacher and parents receive a trip to France to visit important WWI sites and participate in Centennial activities.  

Funding  for the Commission’s participation in Georgia History Day, and for these awards, was provided by a grant from the Georgia Veterans of Foreign Wars.

With the two recipients are Dr. Billy Wells, Chair of the GA WWI Centennial Commission, and Ms. Laura McCarty, President of Georgia Humanities.With the two recipients are Dr. Billy Wells, Chair of the GA WWI Centennial Commission, and Ms. Laura McCarty, President of Georgia Humanities.

GA History Data Awards 1Brooklyn Reese with her “Hello Girls of WWI” exhibit.


Steele’s Bridge 100 Year Memorial Observance

On June 16, 2018, a gathering of almost 100 took place very near the spot where three soldiers from Camp Gordon died while on a mission, exactly 100 years ago to the day. Sgt. Scott Abraham Marquisee, Corp. Samuel F. Smith, and Pvt. Ernest Rhinesmith were killed when the convoy truck they were riding in fell through the old covered bridge. This convoy of several troop trucks and automobiles was on a mission to round up deserters in the hills of Cherokee County, Georgia. The covered bridge had been sabotaged, causing the heavy truck to crash through and fall 40 feet to the Etowah river below.

This memorial event, produced by retired police officer and historical researcher, Michael Hitt, brought together military, police, religious, and the community to remember the sacrifices of these men and their families. An historical color guard, 21 gun salute, bagpipes and bugle taps helped to mark the occasion.

More information about this almost forgotten tragic incident may be found at:


In May 1918, U.S. troops, commonly known as the Doughboys, fought in their first major battle in Europe during World War I. The war was a turning point in U.S. history, establishing the nation’s influence and prosperity in the 20th century. By the end of combat in November 1918, more than 4 million Americans served.

Now, 100 years later, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys, 1917-1918,an outdoor photography exhibition opening March 16th in the Atlanta’s History Center’s Goizueta Gardens, honors the sacrifice of those men and women who served in the conflict that shaped the world in which we live today.

Featuring the work of British photojournalist Michael St Maur Sheil, Fields of Battle tells of the healed scars of World War I through our only remaining living witness: the land on which our heroes fought. The exhibition, in its only Southern appearance, remains on view through July 5th.

Inspired by the concept of land and terrain as the grounds of war and realm of peace, the exhibition is to be installed throughout Goizueta Gardens’ 33 acres—within that garden landscape, telling a story of reconciliation across the lands of warring nations, and the healing of time on the earth itself. On the European soil, once places of devastating violence, we now see landscapes of great beauty, testament to peace and remembrance.The exhibition features historical content as well as archival images to support the beautiful contemporary landscape photography of Michael St. Maur Sheil.

World War I was the first “modern” war, as industry enabled weapons and explosives to be manufactured in vast quantities that brought death and destruction on a scale never previously experienced.

When the United States entered the war, the global conflict had consumed many nations since 1914 and continued for years. The Armistice of November 11, 1918 halted the fighting.

The Western Front on which the Doughboys lived, fought, and died included scenes of environmental degradation, obliterated villages, vast cemeteries, and continuing massive destruction. Much of the landscape of the Western Front looked like an uninhabited planet foreign to them.

The outdoor exhibition containing Sheil’s photography will be displayed throughout Goizueta Gardens, giving guests the opportunity to explore sites of beauty amid the Atlanta History Center’s 33 acres, including the Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden, Smith Family Farm Gardens, and Swan Woods.

Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys, 1917-1918, is the final of four Great War-related exhibitions presented by the Atlanta History Center in recognition of World War I’s centennial during 2017-2018.

More than 116,000 American soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice before the “war to end all wars” finally ended.

Man talks to a crowd while pointing at a mapMan speaking to a crowd while standing in front of an outdoor displayMan speaking to crowd in front of a picture of an old WW1 battlefield.  The battlefield has depressions in the ground from bombs but nature has taken over throughout the years.Man speaks to crowd in front of picture that looks like a color photo of soldiers walking through tall green grassMan speaking to crowd in front of a picture of the ocean.


Georgia World War I Centennial Commission Donors

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Delta Logo

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Georgia Power

John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Foundation, Inc.

Numerous generous individuals


Georgia World War I Centennial Commission


Commission Members

  • Mr. Scott Delius, Atlanta
  • Mr. Rick Elder, Sylvania
  • Mr. Samuel Friedman, Atlanta
  • Mr. Thomas Lacy, Peachtree City (vice-chair)
  • Dr. John Morrow, Athens
  • Dr. Billy Wells, Dahlonega (Chair)

Executive Director:

Dr. Thomas H. Jackson, Jr., University System of Georgia

Federal Commissioner for Georgia

Dr. Monique Seefried, Atlanta

Commission Associates

  • Dr. Lamar Veatch, University of North Georgia
  • Mr. Keith Antonia, University of North Georgia


Next Meeting:

Wednesday April 19, 2019 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Atlanta History Center
Draper Members Room
130 West Paces Ferry Rd NW

Future Meetings:

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Founding Sponsor
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