One hundred years ago today, Germany declared war on Russia, and the Great War began. World War I lasted for four years, concluding with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. The United States initially maintained a policy of non-intervention, but entered the war on the Allied side in 1917, provoked by German submarine (U-boat) attacks.
9,911,000 soldiers died in the conflict and 21,219,500 more were wounded; over 7 million went missing. (The death toll was increased by a deadly strain of influenza, known as the Spanish Flu, which began in January 1918 and killed between three and five percent of the world’s population in two years.)
We’ve set up at World War I display in the library, featuring several history books as well as novels (like All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms) and poetry.
If you’d like to learn more, try these online resources:
- The Digital Public Library of America: Through the DPLA, you can access thousands of items relating to WWI, from maps to photographs to wartime posters and cartoons.
- Europeana: Like the DPLA (in fact, it helped to inspire it), Europeana is a portal to a wealth of resources in libraries, archives, museums, and personal collections. There is a special collection of WWI material.
- World History in Context: This excellent, easy-to-use database contains primary source documents, photographs, and articles from newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and reference sources (e.g. encyclopedias).
- Historical Boston Globe: See the newspaper just the way it looked on the day it came out. (The first image in this blog post is from the Historical Boston Globe database.)
And of course, there’s always Wikipedia.
8/1/14 6:30pm Edited to add: The MFA also has an exhibit of posters from World War I up right now! If you aren’t an MFA member, check to see if the museum passes the library offers are free on the day you want to go, and reserve them ahead of time.