Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City will open new temporary exhibit, WW1 America starting August 26 to October 10.
“WW1 America invites audiences into a nuanced understanding of World War I as a transformational event in American history, a compressed and convulsive time of social, economic, and political change, a lens through which to understand what it means to be “modern,”” described Boot Hill Museum in a press release.
Although it was fought thousands of miles away, the war transformed the U.S. from a relatively provincial power on the world stage to a global military-industrial leader, held together by an empowered federal government and charged with the loyalty people felt for their country.
The saturated hues of patriotic posters, jubilant crowds at Liberty Loan rallies, the ranks of manly Doughboys, and hearty choruses of “Over There,” dominate the popular memory of a then America.
Yet still, there were darker sides of the American experience during the years 1914 to 1919 as entire swaths of U.S. cities engulfed in racial conflagrations, workers striking by the millions, women demonstrating in the streets fighting for their right to vote, immigrants harassed and deported, dissenters and “hyphenated” Americans pursued, surveilled, jailed, or lynched, and violent disagreements about the nature of civil liberties.
The American stage during and just after World War I witnessed sharp challenges to virtually every familiar boundary, those of citizenship, gender, race, class, nationality, generation, culture, not to mention traditional assumptions about foreign entanglements.
As the war came to an end, making the “world safe for democracy” may have seemed easier than making democracy even possible for millions of Americans at home.
Further, if the war did not have a precisely causal effect on social change during the period—for issues such as woman suffrage, African American migrations, Prohibition, labor struggles—it was nonetheless always in dialogue, sometimes violently, with the day’s upheavals, shaping the nation in profound and lasting ways.
Indeed, so many issues from this period cascade down the years to our own time and are still prevalent today.
WW1 America is made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provided major funding support. It is adapted from the Minnesota History Center’s exhibition WWI America and toured for NEH on the Road by the Mid-America Arts Alliance.
To welcome and celebrate this exhibit coming to Dodge City, Boot Hill Museum invites everyone to an opening reception on September 9, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Mariah Gallery.