"You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees."
-- (attributed) Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, speech to troops departing to the front lines, August 1914.
Welcome! The Great War largely lives in the popular imagination as a European conflict fought over muddy fields crisscrossed by trenches running from the North Sea to the Alps. In reality, the war was truly global – with conflict ranging from China to Africa to South America – in the air, on land and sea – as colonial empires mobilized and deployed provincial troops who fought alongside their imperial masters. Ending with a troubled peace that drew boundaries still contested today, the Great War – like a patch of scorched earth – divides the known and familiar world from a remote and idyllic past. It also has been called a war of attrition, in which the home front was as important as the front lines. The Mid-Atlantic region was part of that home front when America entered the War in 1917 as well as being an arena for propaganda and espionage as the Allied and the Central Powers contended for American public opinion, wealth, and munitions.
Today, upon the Centennial Anniversary of the conflict, organizations and individuals in the Mid-Atlantic region have amassed rich holdings documenting the war years – many of these are little known or used; some are lost in deep vaults or remain in private hands. Home Before the Leaves Fall: a Great War Centennial Exhibition (HBTLF) tells the story of the war years using these resources and seeks to expose these sources to broader use and inquiry by digitization and active public participation and engagement. Collaborative by design, HBTLF is a multi-institutional project: articles curated by individual scholars and experts guide readers through the many threads that weave materials into a narrative tapestry, while social media spotlight newly digitized content, creative and educational use of materials, and news of other Great War commemorations.
Please stop back - discovered materials will be made available and specific anniversaries will be commemorated. New content will be regularly added. You, as a reader and researcher, are invited to fully participate: subscribe to the social media channels to learn about new events and postings. Kindly leave comments! Contribute to one of the Projects. And help us to collectively remember the individual sailors, soldiers, marines, nurses, mothers, and fathers of the many nations who struggled in the "war to end all wars".
-- Michael Patrick Foight [MPF]