Category Archives: World War I

Business as Usual

Well, yeah, I guess.

Today I went to the museum in town to watch the World War I documentary that they made last year. Colm told me about it ages ago, though I forgot about it; he reminded me that it existed when we were both doing research over there on Friday.

I decided I might as well get around to watching it. Even though I’m focusing on the WCSA specifically, I figured it was a good idea to know what was going on in the county during the Great War period. I mean, the WCSA is apart of Stevens County…also, I figured I might find some useful information.

A lot of the information presented in the documentary was as I expected, just from my general knowledge of Minnesota history during the war and what I’ve been hearing from Colm about his research. I did find out a few useful things to add to my portion of the site. For one, the WCSA hosted a HUGE patriotic rally in August 1917 after the U.S. joined the war. There was a huge push for patriotism through Minnesota specifically with the Commission of Public safety, and a few local names associated with the Commission also had connections at the school. People from all over the county came and it was a big deal. Furthermore, I was made aware of Florence Hulett, the registered nurse at the WCSA before the war. A graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, she enlisted to serve overseas as a nurse once the U.S. joined the war. I’m going to get in touch with museum to see if they have a picture I could use for her on the site, since I would like to insert a little bit about her into the War narrative since she was a WCSA staff member.

Generally speaking, I’m glad I went to watch the documentary today. It gave me a bit more confidence as I dive into more writing tonight and I did discover some useful information. Really, I should have gone to watch it ages ago!

Now, on to more writing…

Chugging Along

Research is rollling along. I meant to call the museum on Friday, but ended up getting busy with something else and completely forgot. I finally remembered to call them yesterday and ended up having to leave a message for them. I’m going to try again tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be able to get in touch with someone. Last spring when I was doing my honors capstone project, which focused on the early day of Morris in the 1880s, I got in touch with a woman who knew an extensive amount about Morris’ history. She moved to Morris in the 1950’s and has been involved with the museum for quite some time. I’m thinking she might be a good resource to talk about the war with. If not her, I’m sure there are other older folks in the area who would love to share their knowledge; the museum will be a great resource for that, since there seems to be a pretty tight community of older folks there who are passionate about local history.

At the archives, I keep finding more and more useful information in the ledger book from the West Central School of Agriculture.

Yesterday, I was looking through pamphlets that were sent out to prospective students during the summer and fall of 1918. The term didn’t start until October, so these pamphlets range from July to September. Just as college admissions teams do today, these pamphlets were meant to persuade prospective students and parents of all the benefits of the West Central School of Agriculture, what makes it better than other colleges. An emphasis was placed on the modernity of the campus–new facilities that made learning the most enriching experience possible–and the excellent faculty and staff.

More importantly for my interests, there was a huge focus placed on the importance of agriculture in a war-torn world that needed food, and an emphasis on the benefits of education to support the war effort. I am so excited about these, since much of what I had been finding so far in relationship to the WCSA has been about the Spanish Influenza. The Influenza sources are great materials and I’m looking forward to using them, but I was really looking forward to finding information regarding how the war affected the WCSA. Now I am, and that’s great!

That’s research news for me so far. Heading back into the archives tomorrow and I NEED to call the museum. I’ve been so excited about my archives findings that the museum kind of slipped my mind after I wasn’t able to get through to them yesterday. Note to self: c’mon Britta, get your act together and call that museum!

In other news, I continue to be highly amused by all the spam I’ve been getting for this site. My most favorite one of late? Yes! Finally someone writes about best dating sites. Oh, man they hit it right on the nail. That’s exactly the purpose of this blog…

Some Thoughts on Memory

In preparation for my thesis, I am reading Brian Danielson’s Master’s thesis from 2008: “(Re)membering Dissent: Framing Anti-War Sentiment in Public Memory and Popular Culture through M*A*S*H” (California State University, Long Beach). The second chapter of his thesis strikes me as particularly relevant to what we discussed today in class about American memory of World War I and some of the parallels we drew to the Vietnam War. I wanted to share a short section from Danielson’s thesis as some food for thought for us all as we move forward in our research:

“Collective memory doesn’t exist alone inside the head of an individual; rather it exists in the circulation of memories in the public sphere through a variety of institutions and individuals.”1

“The rhetorical situation facing society in the post-Vietnam era was one characterized by polarization and alienation.  Individuals struggled with reconciling their memories of the conflict with the mythical collective identity, and marginalized groups worked to find a place for their ideological perspectives to co-exist without the dominant discourse. These struggles often required a narrative framing that allowed for the remembrance of obfuscated or forgotten marginalized perspectives in dominant discourse.”2

I think that these 2 quotes really highlight what we discussed as the problems and tensions within American memory–because collective memory draws from so many sources, it is likely to embody some of the tensions between the different sources. Furthermore, Americans who have an individual memory of the war that significantly differs from the collective memory, it creates more conflict. I would guess that the tensions that exist between individual and collective memory, as well as those within collective memory, are part of what cause so much chaos and disillusionment for Americans after the end of World War I. I would also suggest that expectations are part of memory, so the disparity between expectation and reality that we talked about only fueled the tensions evident in different memories of the war.

Just some food for thought–I really liked these quotes and think that they give us some more angles/interpretations to consider in our work.

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1. Brian Danielson, “(Re)membering Dissent: Framing Anti-War Sentiment in Public Memory and Popular Culture through M*A*S*H” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Long Beach, 2008), 28.

2. Ibid., 24.