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Ohio in WW1 - Articles

 Ohio Humanities Announces WWI-Related Funded Projects

By David Merkowitz, PhD, Assistant Director, Ohio Humanities

May 10, 2018

HayesPh3 B10F03 004Dated November 1917, this photograph shows Colonel Webb C. Hayes standing with nine Italian military men in Padua, Italy. Learn more about the Hayes family and WWI by visiting the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Image via Ohio Memory.

World War I was an epoch defining event in world history. Ohio’s role in the war and the ways that the war and its aftermath shaped the history of Ohio continues to be significant and thoroughly underappreciated. Ohio Humanities, the state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is pleased to be able to support the public humanities and history programming of history organizations across the state as they explore the history and its continuing impact of World War I on Ohio. In 2018, Ohio Humanities has invested $45,000 in four projects.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont is carrying out the project, “Patriotism & Protest: Engaging our Veterans.” The centerpiece of the project is the exhibit: “A Family of Service: The Hayeses in World War I.” This new exhibit commemorates the one hundred year anniversary of World War I, and seeks to interpret the history of the average soldier and public support and dissent towards the military action.

A consortium of organizations in Summit County - Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, The University of Akron Archival Services, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and the Summit County Historical Society – have come together to produce the documentary film, “Summit County and the Great War: In the Words of Those Who Served.” The film brings 100-year-old letters, photographs, memoirs and other World War I-era documents housed in local collections to life through stories told via dramatic readings sandwiched between context-setting narration and on-camera expert interviews.

The Columbus Historical Society is developing an exhibition entitled "We Shall Remember Them: How Columbus Remembered The Great War."" This endeavor seeks engage the public in a discussion about how the city has chosen to remember World War I since its end in 1918.  "We Shall Remember Them"" will reveal the ways that Columbus residents shaped and communicated the war's memory, through the construction of memorials, monuments, cemeteries, and an urban landscape that reflected the names and events related to the war itself. The project will also consider the role veterans played in postwar Columbus society.      

The Kent Historical Society in partnership with the Kent Free Library is developing the exhibition, “Kent and the Great War” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI.  The exhibition examines the war from soldiers’ and nurses’ points of view and contrasts that with the view put forth by the federal government and the U.S. military.  A wide array of artifacts will be exhibited including military uniforms and paraphernalia, photographs, newspaper articles, war posters, souvenirs, and postcards. The exhibition also premiers many outstanding, never-before-exhibited collections of photographs taken by soldiers, personal diaries, and letters to and from the front.

To learn more about these projects, please visit ohiohumanities.org in the coming months.




 The Creation of the 37th “Buckeye” Division

By Cyrus Moore III, Ohio World War I Centennial Committee

May 2, 2018

Co C 135 MG Camp SheridanCompany C, 135th Machine-Gun Battalion, 37th Division. during Training at Camp Sheridan. Co. C was formed from the Machine-Gun Company of the 7th Infantry, Ohio National Guard. Photo courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center. 

Ohio was one of only a few states to have its National Guard form a complete division in the First World War. Because of its pre-war origins, the 37th Division became known in the military as the “Buckeye” Division, and it adopted the bullseye from the Ohio state flag as its insignia. However, its composition was like that of other divisions, and contained many men who had not been part of the pre-war Ohio National Guard (ONG). The Ohioans who formed the core of the division were fortunate to be able to preserve their state identity in the massive Federal Army created by the War Department.

Before the Ohio National Guard entered Federal service in 1917, it was organized by a regimental system, with each regiment and its individual companies coming from a certain geographical area. It consisted of nine infantry regiments, one independent African-American infantry battalion, two artillery regiments, engineer companies, a signal battalion, ammunition trains, military police, and headquarters troops. Despite the variety, the ONG bore a closer resemblance to the volunteer armies of 1861 than the massive armies waging war in Europe in 1917. The crucial difference was the ONG’s use of brigades as self-contained formations, which contained two to four regiments and a few thousand soldiers. Armies in Europe were fighting on a much larger scale. Divisions were the standard formation, which consisted of multiple brigades and with tens of thousands of soldiers. To fight effectively in Europe, the ONG, along with the rest of the US military, had to reorganize on a divisional system.

Ohio began mobilizing its National Guard in the Spring of 1917. Existing ONG companies recruited to full strength as new recruits full of patriotic fervor joined up while new companies and even a new regiment were formed. The pre-war ONG lacked the artillery necessary to form a division, so cavalry and some infantry companies were converted to artillery. Through the influx of additional soldiers, expanding the artillery, and Ohio Governor James Cox’s heavy lobbying, the War department allowed the Ohio National Guard to enter the federal army as its own division, one of only a few states to do so.

General Pershing created a division model for the American Expeditionary Force, known as a “Square Division” due to the four infantry regiments at the core. To compensate for the soldiers inexperience, Pershing and his staff made the regiments and divisions much larger than those of European armies. A typical US regiment would number over 3,000 men, while a division would be around 27,000.

In September and October of 1917, the Ohio National Guard began leaving its home state, bound for Camp Sheridan, Alabama. At Camp Sheridan the ONG entered the federal army and reorganized into a division. The Ohio National Guard became the 37th Division, known as the “Buckeye” division.

73rd Infantry Brigade

74th Infantry Brigade

145th Infantry Regiment

146th Infantry Regiment

135th Machine-Gun Battalion

147th Infantry Regiment

148th Infantry Regiment

136th Machine-Gun Battalion

62nd Field Artillery Brigade

Divisional Troops

134th Field Artillery Regiment, 75mm guns

135th Field Artillery Regiment, 75mm guns

136th Field Artillery Rgmt, 155mm howitzers

112th Trench Mortar Battery

134th Machine-Gun Battalion

112th Engineer Regiment

112th Signal Battalion

Headquarters Troop

Table 1: Order of Battle (component units) for the 37th Division


Significantly, the regiments and battalions of the new divisions lacked any state designations. They were numbered according to their position in the Federal Army. State origins remained but only in the nicknames, which soon became official. Though some state regiments were renumbered and stayed mostly together, often men from the various state regiments were scattered across the division to raise the new regiments to strength. To further augment division strength, soldiers from other states and draftees from across the country were added to the constituent regiments.

Ohio National Guard officers were scattered even more than their men. The War Department wanted experienced Regular Army officers in high ranking positions, but National Guard officers could not be dismissed without causing resentment. Guard officers were used to fill lower positions wherever needed, and were thus often sent far from their original outfits.

When compared to the pre-Federalized composition of the Ohio National Guard, the 37th Division is much more robust; it was better balanced in terms of infantry to other troop types, and contained equipment necessary for modern warfare, such as machine-guns and heavy mortars. Though heavily restructured, the division contained many Ohioans and preserved its state identity.


Cole, Ralph D. and W. C. Howells. The Thirty-Seventh Division in the World War, 1917-1919. 2   Vols. Columbus, OH: The Thirty-seventh Division Veterans Association. 1926.

Grotelueschen, Mark E. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and combat in World War I. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. 2007.




Teacher Resources Now Available: World War I and the American Home Front

By Kristen Newby, WWI Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection


 theykeptthesealanesopenThe 1919 Victory Liberty Loan drive was the fifth and final issue of the Liberty Loan, bonds sold during World War I to finance the war. The Victory Liberty Loan was intended to raise enough funds to offset debt accrued from wartime expenses. This poster encourages Americans to purchase Victory Liberty Loans, showing a U.S. submarine approaching American ships. Via Ohio Memory.

As part of the Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Ohio History Connection has released the first in a series of three free resource guides and classroom activities, with this set covering the American home front during World War I. Created primarily for high school teachers, the resource guide ‘Will you have a part in Victory?’: World War I and the American Home Front lists sample primary sources in the World War I Collection on Ohio Memory pertaining to civilian contributions to the national war effort. The war posters, letters, and photographs highlighted in the resource guide engage students with the many ways Americans supported the war, including purchasing war bonds and war savings stamps, volunteering with the American Red Cross, growing produce in victory gardens, and rationing food and conserving other materials like metals, rubber, and gasoline.

The classroom activity, Conservation in the First World War, includes three activities utilizing primary sources to engage students with food conservation measures used during World War I. These activities require students to explore the World War I digital collection, and each can be completed in one class period or assigned as homework. Students can critically examine World War I posters encouraging Americans to contribute to the war effort, read a bulletin published in local Ohio newspapers informing readers about reducing food consumption, or create a week-long meal plan for a family of five which incorporates home-grown produce and aligns with the U.S. Food Administration’s conservation days.

Check back soon for the next bundle of educator resources! If you have any questions, please contact project staff at ohiomemory@ohiohistory.org.

Download the resource guide

Download the classroom activity

Faces in the Book: A Bridge between the U.S. and Italy

By Kristen Newby, WWI Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

April 19, 2018

In commemoration of the centennial anniversary of Armistice Day, the Museo della Battaglia Vittorio Veneto (Museum of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto) in Italy has created a website called Faces in the Book (facesinthebook.it) which commemorates the men of the American 332nd Infantry Regiment who fought in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. Researchers Giorgio Marinello and Franco Giuseppe Gobbato created Faces in the Book in conjunction with a permanent installation at the Memoriale dei Cavalieri in Vittorio Veneto, highlighting America’s intervention in Italy during World War I.

comapnyeThis panoramic photograph shows Company E at Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. By the end of World War I, more than 120,000 soldiers trained at Camp Sherman. More photographs of the 332nd Infantry Regiment are available on Ohio Memory here. Via Ohio Memory.

Assembled and trained at Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio, one of sixteen army training camps across the nation, the 332nd Infantry was part of the 83rd Division, also known as the “Ohio Division,” as the most of its men were from Ohio. The 332nd was training in France in May 1918, when General Pershing selected the unit to be sent to the Italian Front at the request of the Italian government. In late July 1918, a total of 4,000 soldiers and 125 officers, including the 331st Infantry Regiment medical unit, arrived in Villafrance di Verona, Italy, under the command of Colonel William Wallace. The 332nd was called to Italy for propaganda purposes with two responsibilities—to bolster the morale of the Italian people, and to trick Austrian forces into thinking there was a large American presence in Italy. The men regularly organized staged marches on the Italian lines along the Piave River, without engaging in combat, changing their location and uniforms daily to convince Austrian aero-observers that large numbers of American units were deployed there. Italian government officials even requested that the American unit selected have as few Italian-Americans as possible, so that Austria would not entertain the possibility that these were Italian troops disguised as Americans. The 332nd also participated in public events like military medal decoration ceremonies, enabling them to interact with Italian civilians in cities and towns along the front.

Finally in October 1918, the 332nd Infantry was summoned to advance to the front lines and cross the Piave. The 332nd was assigned to the Italian 31st Division, and marched as part of the British XIV Corps across the Italian line in pursuit of fleeing Austrian troops crossing the Tagliamento River. Allied troops continued to push forward and seized the Austrian position on November 4th. Later that day, Italian and Austro-Hungarian officials signed an armistice agreement, ending conflict on the Italian Front, and bringing an end to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

facesinthebookView the portraits of the men who served in Company K of the 332nd Infantry Regiment here. Via Faces in the Book.

Faces in the Book features content from two books owned by a private collector; History of Company K which contains photographs of each member of the company, and a book which lists the names of the men of Company E. Each soldier’s photograph from History of Company K is available here, and the names and addresses of members of Company E are available here in a full-text searchable PDF document.

Creators Gobbato and Giorgio hope for Faces in the Book to “[establish] a bond between Vittorio Veneto and all those living in the USA, who will now have an additional tool to keep alive the memory of their ancestors, with the awareness that, after more than a century, their contribution in the Great War is still very much alive in the historical memory of our country and is continuously reflected in the relations between our two nations, based on peace and solidarity.” Faces in the Book highlights one of the many ways Ohioans contributed to World War I, and celebrates the memories of loved ones from across our state and nation.

The Museo della Battaglia Vittorio Veneto has an open call for documents or photographs relating to the 332nd Infantry. For more information about Faces in the Book, or to speak to project staff about sharing your private collections, please send inquiries to info@facesinthebook.it.




In honor of National Library Week, we're excited to bring you this story highlighting the important role libraries played during World War I.

The Library War Service in Ohio

By Penelope Shumaker, Metadata Librarian, State Library of Ohio

April 12, 2018

Camp Sherman LibraryThe Camp Sherman library, May 29, 1918, via Ohio Memory.

During World War I, Camp Sherman’s Major General Glenn wrote to W.H. Brett, a librarian at Cleveland Public Library, to ask him to help change the perception that soldiers don’t have time to read, and to encourage the donations for camp libraries.  Glenn emphasized that “there is no one thing that will be of greater value to the men in his cantonment in producing contentment with their surroundings than properly selected reading material.”

Libraries across Ohio answered the call.  In 1917 the American Library Association authorized the State Library Commissioners to take charge of War Library Service in Ohio.  The board created the statewide book drive, called the Book-for-Every-Soldier campaign, which held book drives in every county.  Over 250,000 books were donated to this campaign.  The State Library of Ohio’s Traveling Library program also loaned 500 volumes to the 7th Regiment of the Ohio National Guard.

Many of the books gathered in Ohio were directed to the camp library at Camp Sherman, which was located near Chillicothe.  A librarian from the Chillicothe Library, Burton Egbert Stevenson, was appointed as the Camp Librarian.  Stevenson was a noted novelist and war activist.  During the war he was a prolific writer in the War Library Bulletin and ALA War Service Library Report for Congress.  At Camp Sherman, Stevenson worked to have a comfortable and well-stocked library of 40,000 volumes.  To create an atmosphere of comfort and a sense of home, he successfully advocated for a fireplace in the library. 

Camp Sherman NewspapersSoldiers sorting deliveries in the newspaper room at the Camp Sherman library, via Ohio Memory.

In addition to the book drives, Stevenson wrote to every newspaper published in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, requesting five complimentary copies of each publication for the library.  His efforts resulted in over 300 papers delivered to the cam.  Along with the fireplace, these newspapers gave the soldiers a reminder of home with the local news coverage from the soldiers’ hometowns.

In the ALA’s War Service Library Report. Stevenson noted soldiers’ interest in books challenged his expectations.  While men often read fiction, he wrote, “when I started this work…I had some very plausible theories about the kinds of the books the men would want; but I soon discarded them.  We have requests for every sort of book, from some books by Gene Stratton Porter to Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ and Bergson’s ‘Creative Evolution.’  We have had requests for Ibsen’s plays, books on sewage disposal, and so many requests for ‘A Message to Garcia’ that I had a supply mimeographed” (1918).   Only banned books – such as those advocating pacifism, or with pro-German, anti-capitalist, or pro-socialist themes, were not made available by Stevenson and other camp librarians like him.  However, Stevenson continued to work to have a wide variety of books for the soldiers, and contributions from libraries and parlors across the state helped him achieve this goal. 

The Library War Service hit its peak in 1919 but continued directing reading materials towards service members through the end of the war in 1920.  Meanwhile, Camp Sherman was one of the last World War I Army training camps to be commissioned in 1921.  Additional information on camp libraries and the Library War Service’s efforts can be found via the following sources:

The American Library Association Archives: A Book for Every Man: The ALA Library War Service

The American Library Association: Library War Service

Ohio Memory (to see images and other Camp Sherman-related images, click here)




Introducing the Ohio Poppy Project

By Amy Rohmiller, Ohio World War I Coordinator, Ohio History Connection 

April 4, 2018

Help us commemorate the sacrifices of Ohio’s World War I service members! The Ohio World War I Centennial Committee is collecting homemade poppies from communities across Ohio for the commemoration of the Armistice that ended World War I and to recognize the hundreds of thousands of forgotten Ohioans who served in that war.

The Ohio Poppy Project wants to help communities across Ohio connect to their World War I history and honor World War I soldiers across the state. Our goal is to collect poppies until fall 2018 and display all the collected poppies at the Ohio History Center in Columbus as part of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 2018.  Making poppies can be an easy, meaningful way for your historical society, community group, school class, or scout troop to commemorate The Great War.

Ohio played a major role in World War I in almost every area you can think of.  As a state, Ohio sent the 4th most troops in the country and about 5% of the entire nation’s military manpower. Ohio was the home of Camp Sherman, the third largest training camp for soldiers. Over 120,000 soldiers trained at the camp outside of Chillicothe. 

Poppies became a symbol of World War I and the contributions of our nation’s soldiers during the war with the publication of the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. The poem memorializes soldiers who fought on the Western front, especially in northern Belgium. This area saw some of the worst fighting of the war. Poppies continue to be a symbol of World War I today.

If you would like to join our commemoration and make poppies, we have resources and templates to help.

If your class or group makes poppies and would like to have them displayed at the Ohio History Center during the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, you can ship them to:

Ohio World War I Committee
Ohio History Connection,
800 East 17th Ave,
Columbus OH 43211

The Ohio Poppy Project is inspired by the Kentucky Poppy Project.




Ohio Women in World War I

By Shannon Kupfer, Digital Initiatives Librarian, State Library of Ohio 

April 3, 2018

Women have served in every United States war since before the country had a name.  Sometimes they served in secret, dressing in men’s garb and hiding their identity.  Those who wished to serve openly sometimes did so as nurses, an occupation that was crucial to the war effort but which relegated them to a role more “appropriate” for females.  Others served through efforts such as growing victory gardens, knitting warm woolens for American troops, or working in other domestic wartime efforts. 

Then came World War I and the Naval Act of 1916.  Signed into law by Woodrow Wilson, the Naval Act of 1916 – also called the Big Navy Act – was designed to increase the Navy’s size, with a goal of making it the largest in the world.  To that end, recruitment was a high priority, and it was through a loophole in the recruitment language that women gained entry into the armed services.  Specifically, the language said that “all persons who may be capable of performing special useful service for coastal defense” were eligible to enlist, but made no mention of limiting recruitment to men.  According to Prologue Magazine, “After reviewing the act, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and the Bureau of Navigation (the forerunner to the Bureau of Personnel) concluded that the language did not prohibit women from enlisting in the reserves. The act gave the Navy a previously untapped resource that allowed administrative operations to be carried out by naval personnel and freed able-bodied men to serve aboard ships.”  The women would be given the title Yeoman (F); “F” stood for “female,” though the women quickly became known as “yeomanettes.”  Initially, their duties were largely clerical and administrative, but expanded to include mechanical work, cryptography, making of munitions, and other duties.  By the end of the war, thousands of women had enlisted in the armed services.

okey Woodsfield High School newspaper article on Okey, an alumna of the school, via Ohio Memory.

Ouida Mabel Okey, of Graysville, Ohio, enlisted in the Marines on October 22, 1918 – two months after Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marines – and continued her service through July 31, 1919.  Ms. Okey was one of three women from Ohio to serve in the Marine Reserves, the other two being Mildred A. Cowell of Marietta and Mary A. Williams of Youngstown.  According to the Woodsfield High School Dynamite, Ms. Okey’s alma mater’s newspaper, she was one of two hundred women chosen from a pool of five thousand applicants, and served in the Casualty Section of the Adjutant and Inspector’s Department of the Marines.  She, and other women like her “look[ed] after the details connected with discharges, allowances, the welfare of the wounded, their recreational activities and many other things…Besides this, the girls drill, do guard duty, etc.  In fact the girls are Marines.  Their ranking titles are the same and their punishment for infractions of discipline is the same as it is for their big brothers in the service for similar violations.”  Remarkably, at least for the time, the women also received the same wages as men, assuming they were also able to rise to the same rank. 

Though women were now allowed to enlist, other avenues for supporting the war effort still existed for them.  Many thousands chose nursing as a way to provide needed medical expertise, as well as comfort, to soldiers in need.  One such woman was Clara Edith Work Ayres.

Ms. Work Ayres was born in Attica, Ohio, in 1880.  At the age of twenty-three, she married Wayland Ayres, but her marriage was short-lived; in 1906, Mr. Ayres injured his hand and died three days later after contracting tetanus.  After her husband’s death, Ms. Ayres moved to Chicago, graduating from nursing school in 1913.   Not long after, just prior to America’s entry into the war, Ms. Ayres volunteered as a nurse for the Red Cross and was assigned to work in France.  Unfortunately, however, Ms. Ayres never arrived; while awaiting departure from New York, she was killed on her ship during a practice firing of weapons.  Incidentally, Ms. Ayres is considered to be the first American civilian to die in World War I, though this is debatable.  According to historian Marjorie Waterfield, the 128 Americans that drowned as a result of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 were actually the first American civilians to die in the war, but Ms. Ayres was the first to be killed after America’s entry into the war. 

For women at home, the war offered opportunities that were not generally available to women during peacetime.  Women were often called upon to work in factories, holding jobs that were typically occupied by men.  Others worked with the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) to provide activities to men residing at Camp Sherman or other training camps, based inside or outside the U.S.   The Y.W.C.A. also facilitated relationships between American women and non-English speaking women residing in the U.S.: “Multitudes of foreign born women ignorant not only of the language of our country, but also of its laws and customs are left helpless when their men are summoned to the service…” The Y.W.C.A. responded to this need by opening centers where “foreign-tongued women may find friends at all times.”  The Y.W.C.A. warned of the perils of war for women who were unoccupied in productive efforts, including “blurring high ideals…letting down personal restraint…permitting loose social relationships.”   The war, on the other hand, “has opened to women a variety of employments hitherto regarded exclusively as men’s work,” making women the nation’s “second line of defense.”

 Those who chose not to, or were unable to, work outside the home or serve in the Navy or Marines still found ways to contribute to the war effort.  The Wagner Park Nursery Company of Sidney, Ohio, produced a pamphlet which advised women that “It is not only a patriotic duty to do your share in making your own ground bring forth needed vegetables but it is a privilege that yields rich dividends to you both in pleasure and health.”  Meanwhile, organizations like the Red Cross made knitting for soldiers a popular method of showing one’s support for soldiers; with the rallying cry of “knit for Sammie!” – “Sammie” being a nickname for soldiers fighting for Uncle Sam – women across Ohio and America knit a variety of clothing and accessories, often using patterns issued freely by the Red Cross themselves.

In September, 1918, just one month after the first woman enlisted in the Marines, President Woodrow Wilson expressed his support for a federal amendment to give women the right to vote.  How could the United States fight for liberty around the world when half of its citizens were denied the fundamental right of suffrage?  The companion argument, however, was based on sacrifices, such as those made by Ouida Okey, Clara Ayres, and the countless unnamed women who contributed to the war effort at home.  Their contributions entitled them to equal protection and equal rights, and those contributions, and the rights they gained, continue to inspire women a century later.


HistoryLink: Knitting for Victory – World War I, accessed 3/29/2018

National Archives: Prologue Magazine, “The Story of Female Yeomen During the First World War;” accessed 3/28/2018

National Parks Service: Women’s Suffrage and World War I, accessed 3/29/2018

Red Cross Knitwear, accessed 3/29/2018

Smithsonian Magazine, “During World War I, Many Women Served and Some Got Equal Pay,” accessed 3/28/2018

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Women in World War I, accessed 3/29/2018

Toledo Blade: “Historian Tells Story of Nurse Who Died at Start of World War I,” accessed 3/28/2018

United States Army: Women in the Army,  accessed 3/28/2018

Sources from Ohio Memory:

YWCA Pamphlet: War Work for Women, accessed 3/28/2018

YWCA Pamphlet: One Year with the War Work Council of the Y.W.C.A., accessed 3/28/2018

Seeds for your War Garden brochure, accessed 3/28/2018

Ohio Memory Blog: “Camp Sherman: ‘Ohio’s Soldier Factory,’” accessed 3/29/2018

Ohio Memory Blog: “Ohio Memory Madness 2014: Ouida Okey, the Girl Marine,” accessed 3/28/2018




Help Reveal the Untold Stories of Ohioans During World War I!

March 23, 2018

transcription tool In this letter, Ohio native Harlan W. Johnson writes that a German spy was discovered at his camp in Austin, Texas, where he was attending the School of Military Aeronautics. Via Ohio Memory.

In an effort to commemorate the World War I Centennial, the Ohio History Connection is digitizing World War I collections from its own holdings, as well as cultural heritage institutions across Ohio, as part of the Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These collections are freely available in the World War I in Ohio Collection on Ohio Memory (www.ohiomemory.org).

As part of the Little Stories of the Great War project, the Ohio History Connection has developed an online transcription tool. You can help us share more of the story by helping to transcribe handwritten letters, diaries and more at http://transcribe.ohiohistory.org/! Transcribed text is added to the digital item’s record on Ohio Memory, making the content easier to discover and use. By taking time to transcribe these documents, you are helping to uncover and share the important experiences of Ohioans during the Great War. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us at ohiomemory@ohiohistory.org.




“Spring Forward, Fall Back”: Daylight Saving Time and World War I

By Kristen Newby, WWI Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

March 13, 2018

Last Sunday at 2am, America (with the exceptions of Arizona and Hawaii) turned its clocks forward one hour. Although we look forward to longer days with more sunlight in the spring and summer, and an extra hour of sleep in the fall, our bodies struggle to adjust our internal clocks to the time shift. People often suggest that daylight saving time is an obsolete measure, and actually counteracts its original intentions. Daylight saving time was a hotly contested topic even in its beginnings during World War I.

Germany was the first to enact daylight saving measures in April 1916, when Germany and its allies turned their clocks forward, with the United States and Great Britain soon to follow. On March 19, 1918, Congress passed President Wilson’s proposed Standard Time Act, or “An Act to save daylight and to provide standard time for the United States,” which divided the country into the five time zones in use today. Additional hours of daylight were intended to both increase productivity for wartime industries as well as conserve energy, as more hours of daylight meant less fuel consumption to for artificial light. With national and local programs for rationing food and conserving valuable materials like metals and rubber, daylight saving time was another way civilians on the American home front could support the war effort.

PerrysburgJournal 19180530The May 30, 1918, issue of the Perrysburg Journal features this "On the Spur of the Moment" column by American humorist Roy K. Moulton, in which he describes a woman arrested for selling watered milk, claiming her cows ate “dew-laden grass” due to the lack of morning sun. Via Chronicling America.

Many believe daylight saving time was instituted to provide farmers with more daylight to increase agricultural production, especially during the war when there was a huge push for victory gardens at every home. However, farmers were one of the largest opponents of daylight saving time because more hours of daylight in the evenings meant fewer hours of daylight in the morning, which they heavily relied on for harvesting, preparing produce for market, and milking dairy cattle.

MedinaSentinel 19190822On August 22, 1919, the Medina Sentinel announces the repeal of the Standard Time Act. Via Chronicling America.

On April 20, 1919, the Standard Time Act was repealed over President Wilson’s veto, although some local governments maintained its use. Daylight saving time was re-instituted during World War II on February 9, 1942, when clocks were moved ahead an hour until the war’s end. After its repeal in September 1945, its use was once again deferred to local decision makers.

Congress passed the Uniform Time Act on April 13, 1966, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, which established daylight saving time across the United States and re-instituted the five time zones defined in the original 1918 legislation. The length of daylight saving time was later extended in 1986, and most recently in 2007 to the current daylight saving period from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November.




Ephraim Rose, Story of a World War I Soldier from Ohio

By John Haas, Manuscript Curator, Ohio History Connection 

March 9, 2018

Ephraim Rose header

Our story is about Ephriam Rose, an African American Ohio National Guardsman, born in West Jefferson Ohio in 1898.  In August 1916 his family was living in Lima Ohio and he joined the Ohio National Guard at Dayton and was a member of the 9th Separate Battalion of Infantry Ohio National Guard.  At that time the Army and the United States National Guard was segregated and many states had separate or independent units of African American soldiers in their various state National Guards.   As you can see by the date, August 14, 1916, the United States had not entered the war yet and it was peace time in Ohio. 

In late 1916 the Ohio National Guard was mobilized to send troops to the Mexican border to guard it from incursions by Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa, and possibly other Mexican Revolution soldiers.  According to the sources here at the Ohio History Connection the 9th Battalion of the Ohio National Guard stayed in Ohio.  However a newspaper article about the Rose family and their World War I service, states that Ephriam Rose served on the Mexican Border.  I believe that to be a mistake since it appears the 9th Battalion stayed in Ohio.  They helped construct the Ohio National Guard training base and mobilization center at Camp Willis in Upper Arlington Ohio. 

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the entire Ohio National Guard was mobilized, including the 9th Separate Battalion of Infantry, and prepared for war.  All the old Ohio National Guard unit numbers were changed to fit into the U. S. Army mobilization structure and the 9th Battalion of Infantry of the Ohio National Guard became the 2nd Battalion of the 372nd Infantry Regiment.  The 372nd was made up of all African American National Guard units from various states including Ohio, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  The 372nd was part of the 93rd United States Infantry Division and they trained near Newport News Virginia.   The other units in the 93rd Infantry Division (Provisional) were the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly the 15th New York Infantry, known as “the Harlem Hell fighters”;  the 370th Infantry, which had been the 8th Illinois Infantry Regiment, “the Black Devils”; and the 371st U.S. Infantry who were mostly non National Guard draftees or volunteers. 

Our soldier, Ephriam Rose, was listed as a Bugler with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry regiment.  As you can see by the picture enclosed the Ohio History Connection has his dog tag, a photo, his Official Roster entry and a newspaper article about his service.  His unit left Newport News Virginia on March 30, 1918 aboard the Susquehanna and arrived at St.-Nazaire France.  He is listed as a member of the AEF, American Expeditionary Forces, from that date till he arrived back in Hoboken New Jersey on February 11, 1919, aboard the U.S.S. Leviathan.  The Leviathan sailed from Brest France on February 3, 1919. 

Ephraim Rose H99140

While in France the 2nd Battalion, and our Ephriam Rose, of the 372nd Infantry Regiment served with the French Army 157th Infantry Division, the Red Hand Division, commanded by General Mariano F. J. Goybet.  You might ask: why did the 372nd (and the 371st as well) serve with a French Division?  Well the American general officers did not want to command black troops and did not want Black troops serving with their White troops.  So both the 93rd Infantry Division (Provisional) and the 92nd Infantry Division, also an African American unit, were given to the French Army and served with them till the war ended. 

Ephriam Rose and the 372nd entered the front line trenches for the first time on May 31, 1918 and launched their first major offensive action on September 21st, 1918.  Between June and September most of the original African American officers had been removed and replaced by white officers.  Boards of Examination had been set up to evaluate officers and that was the result.  Despite the loss of their long service and familiar officers the troops of the African American regiments performed remarkably well.  Ephriam Rose and the 2nd Battalion of the 372nd were in the front lines near Verdun and Hill 304, a place made famous and infamous during the 1916 Battle for Verdun.  Later they moved through many French towns including Bois de Brocourt, Juvigny, Brienne-le-Chateau, Vitry-le-Francois, Jessecourt, Hans and Ripont.  From September 26th through October 8th they participated in the great Meuse-Argonne Offensive with the 371st Infantry and both were attached to the 157th French Red Hand Infantry Division.  Ephriam Rose and the 2nd Battalion of the 372nd captured part of Bellevue Signal Ridge and Bussy Farm. They attacked and eventually captured Sechault and later the town of Monthois.  The American units and the 157th French Division were taken out of the line on October 8th.  In the last month of the war they were in the Alsace and Lorraine defensive sectors but did participate in combat operations.    

The 372nd Infantry Regiment suffered casualties consisting of 91 men killed in action and between 600 and 700 wounded or gassed.  The full strength of the regiment would have been about 3000 men.  The afore mentioned newspaper article says our Ephriam Rose was wounded in battle, but his roster entry does not mention that.  Most of the roster entries do mention if that soldier was wounded, but no 23 volume roster can be completely accurate and so he may have been wounded and it may have not been recorded properly.  The 372nd and the 371st U.S. Infantry Regiments were awarded numerous medals and awards for their service in France.  Each unit was given a regimental Croix de Guerre, 168 individual Croix de Guerre, 38 Distinguished Service Crosses, four Medal Militaire and two crosses of the Legion of Honor.  The unit Croix de Guerre was presented to the 372nd at the Port of Brest France by Vice Admiral Moreau, the Maritime Prefect of Brest, before a large audience of French and American officers and soldiers. 

The 372nd Infantry Regiment raised over 10,000 French Francs for a monument to be established near Monthois, the scene of their one of their major battles.  They deputized General Goybet and Colonel Quillet to act as trustees to get the monument erected.   From the unit history of the 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry is the following quote:  “ On September 30, 1929 a commission consisting of members of the Ohio State Senate and Legislature visited the battlefields of France and formally received and dedicated this outstanding monument and achievement for the great State of Ohio.”





 As mentioned above Ephriam Rose and Company G, 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry Regiment arrived back in the US of A on February 11, 1919 at Hoboken New Jersey.  But he was one of four brothers that served in World War I.  His brother John H. Rose served in France with the 116th and 537th Engineers; brother Paul Rose served in France with the 304th Service Battalion;  brother Joseph W. Rose served in France with the 365th Infantry Regiment; plus three brothers in law also served.  The article describing the Mr. and Mrs. John H. Rose family of Lima Ohio can be found here:


Ephraim Rose and his brothers all show up in the 1920 census living in the same home and address as shown in the 1910 census.  However Ephraim Rose died on November 8, 1922, age 26.  Cause of death was listed as Chronic Parenchymatous Nephritis (Nephrosis) with pulmonary complications.  In laymen’s terms is was a disease of the kidneys producing kidney failure.  The death certificate notes the disease was contracted while in the US Army.  This lends credence to the mention of his being wounded while in France, despite the fact it is not noted in his official roster entry.    He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Lima Ohio. 

Sources and Resources:

Pictorial History of the Three Hundred Seventy-Second Infantry Army of the United States, 1941, Atlanta: Army Navy Publications, 1941.

The American Negro in the World War.  Emmett J. Scott, Chicago, Homewood Press, 1919. (this book is has been scanned and can be viewed on line.) 

Ohio Memory has several pictures of the 372nd Infantry Regiment, marching in downtown Columbus and their flags:


  Numerous web sites have material and images for the 372nd Infantry Regiment on line:

New WWI Monument Coming to NMUSAF

By Robert Kasprzak, President, Military Heritage Chapter, League of World War One Aviation Historians 

March 6, 2018

The League of World War One Aviation Historians was formed in 1985 to elevate the study of military aviation to the level of a true academic pursuit. Membership in the League is open to everyone. Currently, the League consists of over 300 members in the United States and abroad. League members include historians, authors, lecturers, artists, and WWI aviation enthusiasts. The Military Heritage Chapter of the League serves the local Dayton/Columbus/Cincinnati area. It is the only local organization with a focus on educating and preserving the contributions of our early military aviators. Towards that end, the Chapter routinely provides educational briefings to local organizations such as libraries, historical societies, and military-related groups.

In the fall of 2016, the Military Heritage Chapter conducted a tour of the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) Memorial Park. During the tour, the Chapter noted there is no monument to the U.S. Airmen who served at the Front during World War I. Given the fact we are commemorating the Centennial of WW I, the League wanted to establish a monument at the NMUSAF in memory of the Airmen who formed the foundation for today's United States Air Force. The monument would inspire and motivate current and future generations to study the evolution of military airpower during the Great War. The League's Board of Directors enthusiastically accepted the proposal.

The initial monument design was slightly modified and subsequently approved by the Air Force Historical Research Agency and the NMUSAF on 7 June 2017.

Since this year marks the final year of the national and international WWI Centennial activities, this project will not only honor our WWI Airmen but also recognize today's modern air warriors whose legacy they uphold. It will be the perfect blend of the past to the present.

The monument will be dedicated on Friday, 21 September 2018 at the Memorial Park of the NMUSAF near Dayton, Ohio.   The 21 September 2018 dedication date was chosen because the NMUSAF will conduct their biennial Dawn Patrol during that weekend. The Dawn Patrol features a number of events including flybys by replica WWI aircraft.   Literally, thousands of people attend the weekend event and it's a wonderful opportunity to commemorate the conclusion of the Centennial. Planned monument dedication activities include a flyover by WWI replica aircraft as well as a flyover by a modern B-1 bomber. Since many of our Airmen served w/our Allies, officers from our Allied countries (including France, Belgium, England, Canada, Australia, and Italy) have been invited to represent their nations. In addition, the daughter of Lt Stephen Thompson (who was the first American Airman serving w/the U.S. Air Service to shoot down an enemy aircraft) will represent the Airmen of WWI. Today's Airmen will be represented by the Commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The Invocation will be given by a Canadian minister (who is also a re-enactor Chaplain), an Honor Guard of WWI re-enactors and an Honor Guard from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will post the colors, Taps will be played, and a 21-gun salute will be provided by a local Post of the VFW. The monument's dedication will end our Centennial events in a truly moving fashion and provide a vehicle for promoting continued educational and research interest in America's early military aviation legacy. The League is proud to spearhead this memorable event!

Currently, the League has raised over $14,000 (of the $26,000 required) for monument construction, installation, and perpetual maintanance. All contributions are fully tax deductable. Should anyone (or any organization) wish to contribute, please visit the League's website at the following link:  


Once on the site, you are also invited to view a short video about the monument. Should you have any questions and need more detailed information, please contact the monument's Project Officer, Robert Kasprzak, via e-mail at: tokasprzak@gmail.com

We believe the monument will be a lasting testament to the early pioneers of military aviation...including ground support personnel as well as those who actually flew operational missions. It would bridge the cultural gap between WWI and the USAF Memorials of later conflicts and reinforce the legacy between those early Airmen and the Airmen of today. We hope you'll join us!



Educational Resources for Teaching the Service and Sacrifice of African American World War I Soldiers

By Paul LaRue, Ohio World War I Commemoration Committee

February 27, 2018

I live in Washington Court House, a small town in rural southern Ohio. You might think this is an unusual place to learn about African American World War I Soldiers; you would be wrong! Drive past the Homer Lawson American Legion Post #653 on Gregg Street, or take a stroll in our local cemetery. This is the history of my community, and possibly yours as well. You may not see rich history at first glance, but look a little deeper. The same rule applies to teaching about the service and sacrifice of African Americans in World War I. At first glance, you might be tempted to say "there are no good resources;" again, you would be wrong. The World War I Centennial has helped create a renewed interest in African American World War I history, including the creation of educational resources.

Homer Lawson post

As a thirty-year classroom teacher, I always like to connect classroom content locally, when possible. I also serve as a member of Ohio's WWI Centennial Committee, so education is a priority for me. The Ohio WWI Centennial Committee has created educational resources to assist educators in teaching the story of African American WWI Soldiers. The first lesson plan focuses on the role of African American combat troops in WWI. "Searching for Homer Lawson" tells the story of local soldier Homer Lawson who was killed in combat in France. The majority of the approximately 380,000 African American WWI soldiers served in labor or service regiments. These soldiers' stories of service are no less important.

black history educator resources 2

The second lesson plan: "African American Soldiers Labor for Victory"for Victory" includes a letter home from a local soldier in a Pioneer Infantry Regiment serving in France. Both lesson plans are aligned with the Ohio content standards for the American History model curriculum, and could easily be adapted for other state content standards.

The National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places series offers a lesson plan on Colonel Charles Young's protest ride for equality. Colonel Charles Young was the highest ranking African American soldier in the United States Army in 1917. His story of service and sacrifice in the face of institutional racism marks an important early event in the civil rights movement. This lesson plan meets national social studies standards.

I must make full disclosure; I wrote the first two lesson plans, and co-authored the NPS lesson plan with one of my former students, Sarah Lane. Sarah is a recent graduate of Ohio University's school of education. She brings the fresh insights and technical skills that go with her generation. I like to think I bring the wisdom that comes from thirty years teaching in a rural public school. (I guess that just makes me old!)

These are but three lesson plans, and by no means an exhaustive list. In a prior post, I discussed the 80th Anniversary edition of the Black History Bulletin. The Black History Bulletin includes a lesson plan and annotated bibliography on African American World War I service. I don't mean for this to start sounding like an infomercial, but I am proud of the renewed interest in this too often overlooked group of American soldiers!




Are You an “American” or a “Hun”?: Anti-German Hysteria during World War I

by Jenni Salamon, Coordinator, Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, Ohio History Connection

February 27, 2018

antigerman1Portion of Liberty Bond advertisement telling German- and Austrian-Americans that their loyalties are with the United States, and not Germany. Medina Sentinel, October 26, 1916, Image 3. Via Chronicling America.

During World War I (WWI), anti-German feeling and activity spread throughout the United States as a way to show support for the American war effort. Germans were the largest non-English speaking minority group at the time of the 1910 census—in Ohio, the German-American immigrant population was over 200,000 by 1900, with even more Ohioans claiming German ancestry. This made Ohio particularly vulnerable to anti-German sentiment, and the impact on German-Americans in the state was long-term. 

antigerman2This wartime poster portrays Germans as evil and barbaric, encouraging Americans to buy War Savings Stamps to support the war effort. From the World War I Posters Collection (Ohio History Connection State Archives Series 2729 AV). Via Ohio Memory.

Public policy shaped many of Ohio’s anti-German activities. During the war, the Ohio State Council of Defense established an Americanization Committee led by Western Reserve University Professor Raymond Moley. The group’s official charge was to assist immigrants in learning English and American values so that they could become U.S. citizens, but it went beyond this work and censored “pro-German” reading material. Many schools limited or stopped teaching German language and literature as well, and teachers had to take loyalty oaths. In 1919, the Ake Law (later declared unconstitutional) made it illegal to teach German in any school below eighth grade.

antigerman3German-American newspapers like this one encouraged its readers to purchase Liberty Bonds and support the war against Germany. Tägliches Cincinnatier Volksblatt, June 14, 1917, Image 5. Via Chronicling America.

Governor James A. Cox’s own strongly anti-German attitudes only increased the hysteria across Ohio. Most German-Americans actually supported the U.S. throughout WWI, purchasing war bonds and rationing resources along with the rest of the American population, but this fierce and widespread anti-German sentiment prompted some to become increasingly pro-German as the conflict went on. Posters, speeches and newspaper articles portrayed Germans as barbaric and evil, and German-Americans were looked upon with suspicion. Some, like Austrian-born Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conductor Ernst Kunwald, were even persecuted for alleged spying, sedition or other acts of treason.

antigerman4An Anti-Saloon League flyer arguing that alcohol consumption and support of breweries and distilleries desecrated the American flag. Courtesy of the Anti-Saloon League Museum and Westerville Public Library via Ohio Memory.

German-American businesses, particularly beer breweries, lost customers. Prohibitionists took advantage of anti-German feeling, emphasizing the importance of redirecting wheat to the war effort over beer manufacture. The American Issue, a newspaper of the Anti-Saloon League, published a number of cartoons connecting the evils of Germans with the evils of alcohols. Some businesses were able to recover, but many others were not. Prior to the war, German-American newspapers had been considered the best of the country’s immigrant press, but a loss of patronage and advertisements caused many, including the Cincinnati Volksblatt and the Columbus Express and Westbote, to permanently cease publication.

antigerman5Dachshunds featured in wartime propaganda led to mistreatment of these poor “Fritzies.” Morrow County Republican (Mt. Gilead, Ohio), October 4, 1918, Image 6, col. 2. Via Ohio Memory.

Anti-German sentiment manifested in other ways as well. Germans were unflatteringly nicknamed “Huns” and “Fritzies.” Hamburgers were temporarily referred to as “liberty sandwiches” and sauerkraut as “liberty cabbage.” Towns and streets with German names were renamed—New Berlin became North Canton, and in Cincinnati, German and Berlin Streets became English and Woodward Streets. Even dogs were not immune to harassment—dachshunds, or “liberty pups”, the Kaiser’s favorite dog breed, were “virtually driven off the streets of Cincinnati.” Some German-Americans Americanized their names (Schmidt to Smith, Mueller to Miller, etc.), reduced the amount of German they spoke in public, and made their cultural and religious activities increasingly private affairs. Ultimately, this hysteria led to the further assimilation of German-Americans into American life.

Learn more about anti-German sentiment in the World War I in Ohio Digital Collection and in Ohio’s digital newspaper collections on Chronicling America and Ohio Memory, and check out our German-American Experience During World War I lesson plan.

Further reading:

Ohio and Its People by George Knepper (2003)

German-Americans and the World War by Carl F. Wittke (1936)

Ohio’s German Language Press and the War by Carl F. Wittke (1919)




The Road to the New Berlin Name Change

By M. Carmella Cadusale, Executive Director, North Canton Heritage Society 

January 31, 2018

New Berlin North Canton Post Offices

On December 3, 1917, while the world was in midst of war, a small village of New Berlin petitioned the Stark County Common Pleas Court for a change of the village name. It was World War I, and the United States, with the Allied Powers (such as Great Britain, France, and Russia) were at war with Germany and the Central Powers (made up of Germany, Austria‐Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire [Turkey]). Due to the conflicts, anti-Germanic sentiments were born and became a way to demonstrate patriotism as well as support for Allied Powers.

Ohio, however, was home to many of those who were of German descent. New Berlin, in particular, was settled by Pennsylvanian migrants and settlers from this border state were mainly of German and Irish descent. These settlers made up about 43% of all Ohio migrants during the first half of the 19th century and most, if not all, of New Berlin. German-Americans faced backlash, their patriotism was questioned due to their ancestry and culture. People presumed that those of German descent were objectors to the Allied cause and considered traitors, even if there was no evidence to support those assumptions.

Federal organizations, such as Ohio’s Americanization Committee, reformulated their organization’s mission promote anti-German activities. Ohio’s Americanization Committee, created by Governor James M. Cox, to teach American values and the English language to immigrants filing for U.S. citizenship. Committee members, however, heavily influenced by anti-German sentiments began promoting censorship of all/any-German culture, such as banning German affiliated books from libraries and provided a list of "approved books" that were not considered to be "pro-German." In 1919, the state legislature passed the Ake Law, which banned the teaching of the German language in all public and private schools below the eighth grade level. Despite the law not including college and high school levels, many schools ceased offering German language classes. Meyer V. Nebraska ruled this law unconstitutional in 1922. The court determined that the state did not have the constitutional authority to ban German in private schools.

The mass number of anti-German sentiments influenced the livelihood and businesses of villages with German influence. New Berlin’s name change petition on December 3, 1917 was heard then filed on January 30, 1918—promptly changing the village’s name to North Canton. Many towns and cities in the nation changed their names as well as re-named streets and buildings with German influence as a result of the backlash.

North Canton Heritage Society will be commemorating this historic name change with their annual calendar, Photos of New Berlin. The calendar features village photos dated before the 1918 name change from their collection. Original documents, such as petitions and letters, are part of the NCHS gallery display and are available for research. Please contact NCHS at ncantonheritage@gmail.com to schedule research dates. 

Propaganda and Ohio’s Homefront

By Andrew Hall, Ohio History Connection 

February 13, 2018

World War II is often seen as the height of focused propaganda efforts in the United States, but WWI saw the greatest impact of written propaganda and posters in American history. Upon America’s entry to World War I Governor James Cox, a staunch supporter of the conflict, decided that Ohioans needed to be regularly and vigorously informed about the government’s needs. Working in tandem with the national Committee of Public Information, Cox empowered statewide propaganda efforts to ensure that every Ohioan did their part. This propaganda came in a variety of forms, and acted as the average citizen’s most reliable link to the wartime experience. Appearing everywhere, from the newspaper to the billboard, propaganda carried numerous messages on how to support the troops from home.

The military’s need for items like fuel and wheat pushed forth a massive conservation campaign. Propaganda relating to conservation appeared regularly in newspapers, reminding citizens of the “suggested” limits on various food items. In 1918 the Ohio War Board gave suggested New Year’s resolutions on how to better support the war at home, including changing “habits of eating” to preserve crucial supplies. Ration cards offered alternative meal plans, such as exchanging corn flour for wheat, to provide excess supplies for the military while also acting as a consistent reminder of the war abroad.

Save the WheatSave the Wheat. SA Box 7069, Ohio History Connection Archives/Library

Personal sacrifices of fuel came alongside food conservation. Newspapers and broadsides bore constant reminders to residents that any fuel they saved could go to the front. The Columbus Dispatch reminded readers in 1918 that fuel was not to be used in public spaces on Mondays, with the exception of places such as hospitals and grocery stores. Fuel in homes could still be used, but the state encouraged citizens to keep lights off at night and limit their use of fuel as much as possible. State officials considered fuel and food to be as important as bullets, and expected people to follow their recommendations.

Ohioans often found ample encouragement to participate in wartime activities through guilt, as a great deal of propaganda displayed what might happen the war were not properly supported. Newspapers across the state encouraged readers to report the names of “slackers,” leading often to public shaming in local newspapers and sometimes mandatory work assignments. Advertisements often leveraged guilt by insisting that liberty bonds prevented German attacks at home. The Springfield News Sun ran a full page story in 1918 that explicitly described the destruction of Springfield by German planes and zeppelins, all resulting from a lack of participation in liberty bond efforts. Though in reality there was no threat of an imminent attack from the Axis Powers, print propaganda played on peoples’ heightened fears of everything German to increase participation in war support efforts.

Buy Liberty BondsThat Liberty Shall Not Perish From the Earth: Buy Liberty Bonds. Historical Commission of Ohio. 2729 AV, Ohio History Connection Archives/Library

Guilt-ridden propaganda also encouraged many to support anti-German sentiment. American propaganda campaigns villainized Germany as a whole, leading to a general acceptance that anything German was un-American and in an indirect way supported the enemy. Despite having an estimated 175,000 German-born immigrants living in Ohio as of 1917, with many more residents having ties to Germanic heritage, Ohio strongly embraced this national message. As attempts to erase German heritage occurred throughout the state news of its happening, such as when students in New Philadelphia burned German books while singing “patriotic airs,” came with a positive spin. These kinds of advertisements even appeared in the political sphere. Prohibition supporters took advantage of anti-German fervor to build up their own agenda. One advertisement specifically calls out beer as a German product, and that “the saloon is Germany’s ally.” Germany, and anything associated with it, provided
another valuable conduit for state and national war committees to transmit their messages through.

Which are you forWhich Are You For? SA Box 7069. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library.

Print was the primary media of the 1910s, and Ohio’s statewide propaganda campaigns utilized it effectively. As WWI’s patriotic fervor swept through Ohio and the nation, propaganda connected people on the homefront to those in the trenches.


George Knepper, Ohio and Its People. The Kent State University Press: Kent 1989, pg. 345

Ohio War Board Suggests New Year’s Resolutions For You. SA7069_B05_Franklin Co_1918_1. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library, Columbus, Ohio.

Fuelless Day Pointers. SA7069_B05_Franklin Co_1918_114. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library, Columbus, Ohio.

Knepper pp. 345-346

If Springfield Was Threatened by the Huns. SA7069_B05_Clark Co_1918_52. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library, Columbus, Ohio.

“Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1917.” United States Census Bureau, 27 July 2015, Pp 34-62. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1918/compendia/statab/40ed.html

German Textbooks Are Burned As Students Sing Patriotic Airs. SA7069_B04_Tuskarawas Co_1918_45. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library, Columbus, Ohio.

Get the Kaiser Day in Ohio. SA7069_B09_Greene Co_1918_41. Ohio History Connection Archives/Library, Columbus, Ohio.




Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I

By Kristen Newby, WWI Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

January 10, 2018

One of the ways the Ohio History Connection is commemorating the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I is a project titled Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I. Over the course of this two year, grant-funded project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Ohio History Connection will digitize World War I collections from its own holdings as well as local history institutions across Ohio. All digitized materials are available in the World War I in Ohio Collection on Ohio Memory (www.ohiomemory.org), serving as a statewide digital collection of World War I materials. The Ohio History Connection is also developing various World War I related educational resources for K-12 teachers, including lesson plans and resource guides. Our first in a series of three lesson plans, Captain Robert S. Marx: Decorated World War I Soldier & Founder of the Disabled American Veterans, is now available here on Ohio Memory.

Armco Dec 1917 21This article from the December 1917 issue of the Armco Bulletin summarizes letters received from the Ambulance Corps to Armco so that the men’s families can stay informed. The men recently worked in the Verdun sector where their “barracks were closer to the front line trenches than [their] post from which [they] evacuated.”

Many new and exciting materials have been added to Ohio Memory since the grant’s start in July! American Rolling Mill Company (Armco) bulletins, letters, and a book titled Armco Men in the World War, from the Middletown Historical Society, highlight the important ways manufacturing and immigration supported the war effort, and also tell the story of the Armco Ambulance Corps, a volunteer ambulance unit of fifteen Armco employees which received many military honors for its outstanding service. The Mary E. Gladwin Papers from the University of Akron Archives, including Gladwin’s diary, scrapbook, photographs, and manuscript chapters of her memoir The Red Crosser, detail her impressive nursing career, especially her World War I service in Greece and Serbia as a Red Cross nurse.

Correspondences between soldiers and loved ones at home provide soldier insights into training practices, camp life, and battlefield accounts from the Front. The Harlan W. Johnson Papers tell the story of McConnelsville, Ohio, native Harlan Johnson’s service as an aero-observer with the 168th Aero Squadron, spanning from his enlistment in May 1917 to his death in France in October 1918. Another aspect of war-time aviation is represented in a collection of Eddie Rickenbacker photographs documenting his U.S. Army Air Service career as a fighter pilot, earning the title Ace of Aces, in the 94th Aero Squadron.

AV65 B01 025This lantern slide shows soldiers launching mortar bombs during a training exercise at an unidentified military camp.

Recent additions to the World War I in Ohio Collection include the scrapbook and diary of Sergeant Ralph B. Evans of the Quartermaster Corps, and a series of training slides depicting gas, grenade and mortar, rifle and machine gun, and trench training exercises at military camps. A large collection of photographs, diaries, letters and other correspondence from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums shares the many ways the descendants of President Hayes served in the war abroad and contributed to the war effort on the home front. Check back soon for more little stories of the Great War!


For more information about Little Stories of the Great War or upcoming educator resources, please contact ohiomemory@ohiohistory.org.

Ohio World War I Centennial Committee

Contact: Sara Fisher, Ohio History Connection: sfisher@ohiohistory.org

Committee Members:

Ron Chapman, American Legion Department of Ohio

Steve Ebersole, American Legion Department of Ohio

Shannon Kupfer, State Library of Ohio 

Paul LaRue, High School History Teacher (Ret.)

Dr. Paul Lockhart, Wright State University

Pete Lupiba, Ohio Department of Education

SFC Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard

David Merkowitz, Ohio Humanities

Colonel Thomas Moe, United States Air Force (Ret.)

Cyrus Moore, Ohio History Connection

Toivo Motter, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens 

Becky Preiss Odom, Ohio History Connection

Kyle Yoho, The Castle Historic House Museum




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