WWI

Written on print: "Spartanburg, S.C. Saxon Mills; 'Girl workers in the half-time mill school.'"
Library of Congress/Goldsberry Collection of open-air school photographs.

(Originally broadcast 03/02/18) - There were progressives in South Carolina in 1918. And the progressive movement in this state was different from the movement in the Northeast. However, the United States’ entrance into World War I provided an extra momentum to the movement that led to some fundamental changes the interaction between state and federal authority that lasted through the 20th century.

Unidentified African American soldier in uniform with marksmanship qualification badge and campaign hat, with cigarette holder in front of painted backdrop.
Library of Congress

Upon the United States' entrance into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson told the nation that the war was being fought to "make the world safe for democracy." For many African-American South Carolinians, the chance to fight in this war was a way to prove their citizenship, in hopes of changing things for the better at home.

With the United States’ entrance into World War I, three Army training bases were set up in South Carolina. The social and economic impact on a state still suffering from the devastation of the Civil War was dramatic. Three infantry divisions, including support personnel, swelled the Upstate and Midlands population by 90,000. On the coast, recruits flocked to Charleston’s Navy base. And some of those trainees were African Americans, which caused political turmoil and civil strife in a Jim Crow state.

Detail from a poster showing a Red Cross nurse with an American flag and the Red Cross symbol. (Artist: Howard Chandler Christie)
Library of Congress

Prior to that World War I, South Carolina was a predominantly rural state, with a Black majority populaltion. The typical S.C. woman in 1916 was Black, and, if she was employed, she was likely an agricultural worker or a domestic worker. If she was White, a working woman was likely on the farm or in a textile mill. There was a quite small middle class where working women might be employed as teachers or a nurses; a few were clerical workers. The United States' entry into World War I offered women, White and Black, new opportunities.

Symposium Examines Women's Roles During World War I

Apr 9, 2019
From The Electrical Experimenter, October, 1916. The original caption reads: "Here Are Some of the Patriotic Young Women Studying Radio-telegraphy At One of the Summer Preparedness Camps."
Public Domain

Lander University recented hosted a symposium on World War I, which ended just over a century ago.  The symposium drew scholars and authors primarily from the Southeast to discuss various aspects of the war, which then was known as "The Great War."  One aspect covered by a panel of experts examined the role of women during the war.

Historians Observe Centennial of World War I's End

Nov 9, 2018
Suresnes American Cemetery, Suresnes, France
U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Ben Sowers/Released

Nov. 11 is Veteran's Day, which was once known as Armistice Day. It's also the 100th anniversary of the original Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, on which ended World War I, then known as "the Great War," or - with hope, but sadly, not truly - "The War to End All Wars."

U.S. National Library of Medicine

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

(THE CONVERSATION) One hundred years ago, a novel pandemic influenza virus spread rapidly around the world. It killed about 1 to 2 percent of the human population, primarily young and often healthy adults.

The centennial of the 1918 pandemic is a good time to take stock of how far the world has come since this historic health disaster – and to face the sobering fact that several key mysteries have yet to be resolved.

"W" is for World War I (1917-1918). When Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, part of South Carolina was already on a war footing. More than 65,000 South Carolinians served in the armed forces. Eight men from the state were awarded the Medal of Honor. At home civilians supported the war effort through liberty bond drives, home gardens, and meatless and wheatless days. Patriotism cut across racial boundaries in broad support for bond drives and the Red Cross.

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war on Germany and formally entered World War I. By late June, American infantry troops began arriving in Europe. One thing they couldn't do without? Coffee.

"Coffee was as important as beef and bread," a high-ranking Army official concluded after the war. A postwar review of the military's coffee supply concurred, stating that it "restored courage and strength" and "kept up the morale."

From Shell-Shock to PTSD, a Century of Invisible War Trauma

Apr 6, 2017
Men of U.S. 64th Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, celebrate the news of the Armistice, November 11, 1918. The trauma of mechanized, trench warfare left many returning veterans with PTSD.
U.S. Army - U.S. National Archive

Mary Catherine McDonald, Old Dominion University; Marisa Brandt, Michigan State University, and Robyn Bluhm, Michigan State University

(THE CONVERSATION via the AP) In the wake of World War I, some veterans returned wounded, but not with obvious physical injuries. Instead, their symptoms were similar to those that had previously been associated with hysterical women – most commonly amnesia, or some kind of paralysis or inability to communicate with no clear physical cause.

World War I sometimes seems like the war America forgot.

The U.S. entered the fight a century ago, on April 6, 1917, nearly three years after it erupted in Europe during the summer of 1914. The Americans made quite a splash, turning a stalemate in favor of their British and French allies.

April 6 marks 100 years since the U.S. Congress voted to declare war on Germany, entering World War I. The war took the lives of 17 million people worldwide. What's not as well-known is the role that animals played at a time when they were still critical to warfare.

How World War I Ushered in the Century of Oil

Apr 4, 2017
American troops going forward to the battle line in the Forest of Argonne. France, in Renault FT tanks. Light tanks with a crew of only two, these were mass-produced during World War I.
National Archives and Records Administration

Brian C. Black, Pennsylvania State University

(THE CONVERSATION via the AP) On July 7, 1919, a group of U.S. military members dedicated Zero Milestone – the point from which all road distances in the country would be measured – just south of the White House lawn in Washington, D.C. The next morning, they helped to define the future of the nation.

American Soldier firing a Springfield M.1903 with telescopic sight.
By American official photographer, British Imperial War Museum

David Longenbach, Pennsylvania State University

(THE CONVERSATION via the AP) On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war against Germany and entered World War I. Since August 1914, the war between the Central and Entente Powers had devolved into a bloody stalemate, particularly on the Western Front. That was where the U.S. would enter the engagement. 

Imagine you're a military officer in World War I. Armies have grown so large, you can no longer communicate just by the sound of your voice or the wave of your hand. You need to synchronize movements of troops and artillery, far and wide.

You need a wristwatch.

Pages