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UC Joins Citywide Events Observing the 100th Anniversary of World War I


A UC institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities will expand understandings of the cultural impact of the war beyond Europe.

Date: 6/9/2014 9:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati is joining a number of institutions across the city in observing the 100th anniversary of World War I.
WWI display, formerly at UC’s Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of Health Professions.


World War I began on July 28, 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the previous month. The U.S. didn’t join the combat until 1917. Popularly called the “War to end all wars,” World War I became one of the deadliest conflicts in world history, and the controversy surrounding the Versailles Treaty to end the war set the stage for World War II. World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Nov. 11, 1918), Armistice Day, which is also observed annually in the U.S. as Veterans Day.

In an exploration to further expand research into the war and its impact, Elizabeth Frierson, a UC associate professor of history, was awarded a $192,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to host a summer institute for renowned WWI scholars from around the nation. The summer institute, “WWI and the Arts: Sound, Vision, Psyche,” takes place June 22-July 19. Twelve instructors (including UC World War I experts) and 21 World War I scholars are taking part in the NEH-funded institute to broaden understandings about the Great War; to develop new analytical and narrative tools for conveying the reality of the World War I time period in Europe, Asia and Africa; and to create content about the war to share worldwide through the institute’s website

Elizabeth Frierson at the WWI display that ran through June 6.
Elizabeth Frierson, faculty director of the NEH-funded WWI Summer Institute at UC.

“Our goal is to push beyond our society’s common understanding of the war as a European war largely fought by white Europeans, and to develop scholars who will take a leading role in their communities to expand our ways of understanding the war,” says Frierson, the faculty director of the World War I institute. “The two intersecting angles that we take on the Great War combine auditory, visual and healing arts in analyzing, interpreting and narrating the war at the front lines and at home.”

The institute will be meeting at several sites throughout Cincinnati including UC’s Institute for Military Medicine (Academic Health Center), the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum and the Cincinnati Art Museum. Institute partners also include the Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Museum Center, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (Hebrew Union College), the Lloyd Library and Museum, the Mercantile Library and the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at UC.

The UC institute will sponsor a public event at Cincinnati Museum Center on Tuesday, June 24, as part of Cincinnati Museum Center’s Insights Lecture Series. A lecture and book signing begins at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 24 (RSVP is recommended). UC WWI summer institute lecturers Jeffrey Sammons and John Morrow will discuss their new book, “Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality.” The lecture will reveal Ohio’s little-known connection to the 15th New York National Guard/369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, and will also detail Ohio’s men of color who volunteered to serve in World War I. Morrow is professor of history at the University of Georgia. Sammons is a professor of history at New York University. Reservations are also available for a 1913-style dinner taking place before the lecture.

On June 28, institute scholars will attend the Cincinnati Opera event, free and open to the public, “A Musical Introduction to ‘Silent Night,’” from 11 a.m.-noon, at Spring Grove Cemetery. Evans Mirageas, the Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera, leads an introduction of the American opera, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2012 and was inspired by the Christmas truce of 1914, when World War I enemies laid down their weapons and celebrated the holiday together.

Institute scholars also will attend the Cincinnati Opera event, “An Evening of Wartime Jazz,” free and open to the public, from 7-9 p.m., on Sunday, June 29. The event features the music of the first African-American bandmaster, James Reese Europe. Europe was a member of the Harlem Hellfighters and organized the first all-black military band to entertain the troops.

While working sessions of the UC institute are closed to the public, the institute will host two other free, public events:
WWI display, formerly at UC’s Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of Health Professions.



On July 8, institute scholars of music, literature and theater will present, “Literature, Arts and Music of the Great War.” The event takes place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 8, at the Mercantile Library at 414 Walnut St. downtown. The event will take place against the backdrop of an exhibit featuring the WWI writings, paintings and sketches of Cincinnati artist Elizabeth Nourse, who volunteered to aid refugees in France. She was awarded Notre Dame’s 1921 Laetare Medal for distinguished service to humanity by a Catholic layperson.  For more information, call 513-621-0717; reservation information.

On July 9, the institute and the UC College of Medicine will host Susan Grayzel, an internationally renowned history professor at the University of Mississippi, who will present a lecture on chemical warfare and the development of gas masks in the Great War. The event, “The Afterlife of the Chemist’s War: Gas Masks and Culture, 1915-1945,” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 9, in Kresge Auditorium. For more information, call 513-556-0919.

UC Summer Institute: WWI and the Arts: Sound, Vision, Psyche

UC Summer Institute on Facebook

UC Faculty Director of the NEH-Sponsored WWI Institute, “WWI and the Arts: Sound, Vision, Psyche,” Reveals How Institute Examines WWI Beyond Europe

UC Libraries Exhibit Highlights Movies, Music and Books Inspired by the Great War

For the Media: UC Experts on World War I

Other Cincinnati Museum Center Events

Cincinnati Museum Center: 513-287-7000

Treasures in Black & White: Historic Photographs of Cincinnati - A century’s worth of photographs from Cincinnati Museum Center’s collections will provide a window into the Queen City. “Treasures in Black & White” is an opportunity to revisit the neighborhoods, architecture and people of Cincinnati from the outbreak of the Civil War to the 1960s. This visual history of a city provides a snapshot of the nation as it grew through economic depression, great prosperity and five wars, including the cultural shock and devastation of World War I.

Online Exhibition of World War I Propaganda Posters – Cincinnati Museum Center will present an online exhibition of World War I propaganda posters from its collections, demonstrating the large-scale publicity campaign needed to mobilize men and money quickly. These posters served as an inexpensive and eye-catching method to arouse public emotion and unify support for the war. Nearly 3,000 posters were designed during World War I by volunteer artists in service to government and civilian agencies. They were printed in mass quantities and distributed in support of war fund drives. Many posters from World War I were reprised during World War II. The Cincinnati-based Strobridge Lithographing Company produced several of these posters. 

Cincinnati Opera Events

Cincinnati Opera: 513-241-2742

“Silent Night” July 10 & 12 at Music Hall

June and July Events (Including “A Musical Introduction to ‘Silent Night,’” “The Songs of Love and War,” “The Tragedy of Time: Expressionist Art and Dance,” “An Evening of Art and Jazz”)

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Exhibition: Cincinnati’s Soldiers – Men and Women in the First World War