World War I


Spanish Influenza of 1918, Part 2: The Rapid Spread of the Epidemic in the United States, Oct. to Dec. 1918

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While the Boston area reeled under the burden of the epidemic, the influenza outbreak was spreading rapidly. On the same date, October 21, 1918, the Belleville News Democrat called the Illinois city of Mascoutah “the Center of Influenza Epidemic in St. Clair County with Three Hundred Cases…” and the Aberdeen Daily News announced “Influenza Epidemic Checked in Boston.” The article in the Aberdeen newspaper continued:

Normal conditions were resumed in this city today when places of public assembly were allowed to reopen by health officials. The places had been closed for nearly three weeks because of the epidemic of influenza which caused nearly 1,000 deaths here.

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Meanwhile, the article in the Belleville paper declared:

Influenza has invaded Mascoutah and today it is reported that there are about 300 cases in the city. Three deaths have already been reported and many more of those afflicted with the disease are said to be seriously ill. New cases are reported hourly.

The Illinois city had begun to establish some prophylactic measures.

Spanish Influenza of 1918, Part 2: The Rapid Spread of the Epidemic in the United States, Oct. to Dec. 1918

Spanish Influenza of 1918, Part 1: The First Six Weeks of Epidemic in the United States, Sept. to Oct. 1918

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The Spanish Flu, which swept the globe for more than two years and killed as many as 100,000,000, was misnamed. The origins of the 1918 pandemic have been debated, but it is generally accepted that the disease was prevalent among the troops from Germany, France, and Great Britain fighting World War I. Because of the war, the press was censored in those countries. Spain was neutral and the press was not censored. Hence, the early reports of the spread of infection suggested that Spain was the vector. It was not.

Whatever the source, Boston was the first location in the United States to experience an outbreak, probably because of the troop ships and merchant marine vessels returning from Europe. In 1918, between September 10 and October 21, the disease grew exponentially and spread throughout the U.S. as seen in this national news coverage.

On September 10, 1918, the Fort Wayne Sentinel announced in a headline: Epidemic of Influenza Among Sailors in Boston.

Nearly 100 sailors of the merchant marine suffering from influenza, who have been stationed aboard training vessels in Boston harbor, were removed for treatment today to tents pitched on the summit of Corey hill…

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The next day the Pawtucket Times reported that

Spanish Influenza of 1918, Part 1: The First Six Weeks of Epidemic in the United States, Sept. to Oct. 1918

The United States Enters World War I: 28 Newspaper Front Pages from 100 Years Ago Today

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On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on the German Empire. Although public opinion had been mixed, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson stood before a special joint session to make the case that “armed neutrality…is impracticable.” “The wrongs against which we now array ourselves,” he said, “are no common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.” The Senate passed Wilson’s war resolution 82 to 6; the House voted 373 to 50.

The following front pages—representing more than 20 states and 25 cities—capture the momentous American decision to join the Allies in a “war to end all wars.” Each was published a century ago today and can be found in Early American Newspapers, Series 1 to 13, 1690-1922.

From Alaska

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From Arizona

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From California

The United States Enters World War I: 28 Newspaper Front Pages from 100 Years Ago Today

The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

July 1, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the day the British army suffered the worst losses in its history, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. American newspapers and news services had correspondents in Britain, France and Germany, who were the main opponents on the Western Front, covering the events of the war. This was possible because the United States had not yet entered the war. Readex’s Early American Newspapers contains the accounts those correspondents filed about this battle as well as the rest of World War I.

July 1, 1916: After five days of an artillery barrage intended to destroy the barbed wire and thin out the German defenders, officers blew their whistles at 7:30 a.m. and the British troops went over the top. The plan by the commanding generals was that this attack would cut through the German lines and turn a static war back into a war of movement. Originally expected to be led by French forces, the lengthy battle of Verdun shifted the main attack to the British sector. Planned in late 1915, the attack was planned to coincide with the Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front in present-day western Ukraine. 

 

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The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The Utterly Sad Anniversary of the “War to End All Wars”: A Look Back Through America's Historical Newspapers

August 2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of what we now call World War I. The wars in Europe since 1815 had been brief affairs. The expectation was that this would also be brief. The Colorado Gazette of August 23, 1914, called it “the Biggest Family Row of History.”



The war would last four years and mark the end of what some historians call the long 19th century, which they date from the French Revolution to 1914. It was the beginning of the end of several European societies; the empires of Russia, Austro-Hungary and Germany did not survive the conflict. Eastern Europe was completely reshaped politically by the war and the peace that followed it. Great Britain struggled with its economic consequences. The European conflicts of the 1930s and World War II are direct results of it, too. America’s Historical Newspapers can help students and scholars explore and understand this conflagration in new ways.

The crisis that started it actually began six weeks earlier, when the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by Serbian nationalists. Other European royalty and government officials had been assassinated in the three decades previous to this killing, but they did not set off a general European war. This killing of the archduke, and the death of his wife in the same attack, would.
The Utterly Sad Anniversary of the “War to End All Wars”: A Look Back Through America's Historical Newspapers

Anarchists, Talking Gloves, Fraternal Owls, and a Feline Brigand: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1820-1922: From the New-Historical Society offers an exceptional cross section of one hundred years of American society. The March 2014 release includes pamphlets providing a sympathetic review of the case against the anarchists involved in the bombing of Chicago’s Haymarket Square, an innovative tool for aiding blind and/or deaf veterans returning from World War I, and the rather bizarre initiation ceremony of a New York social club. Other intriguing items include a bookkeeping handbook full of clever tips and an illustrated children’s story that may have even caused the Brothers Grimm to blanch.

The Robber Kitten (1863)
By Comus

While the do-not-steal theme of this children’s book is timeless, its relatively graphic violence would likely horrify many of today’s parents and teachers. After shooting a chicken and robbing a cat, this book’s kitten “gets his due reward in the form of a wallop to the head at the paws of a dog.

Anarchists, Talking Gloves, Fraternal Owls, and a Feline Brigand: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The Real War Horses of America

Michael Morpurgo’s fictional story “War Horse” has gone from a beloved children's book to successful stage production to bestselling Hollywood movie directed by Steven Spielberg. But who were the real war horses of America?

The Real War Horses of America

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