Now open: exhibition to commemorate 100th anniversary of WWI

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Lauren Noel, The Historic New Orleans Collection
(504) 556-7655 | [email protected]
Sarah Chambless Federer, Gambel Communications
(504) 324-4242 | [email protected]
533 Royal Street | 400–410 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
(504) 523-4662 | [email protected] |
Now open: exhibition to commemorate 100th anniversary of WWI and
examine its influence in New Orleans
Dec. 10, 2015 | New Orleans, Louisiana — In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, The
Historic New Orleans Collection presents the exhibition “At Home and at War: New Orleans, 1914–1919.” The
free exhibition is now on view at THNOC’s Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St., which is open
Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Europe hurled itself into a conflict of enormous proportions as the First World War commenced in
1914. All of the major European powers were engaged, with Germany and Austria-Hungary leading the fight
against France, Great Britain, Russia, Belgium, and eventually the United States.
“At Home and at War” looks at the war’s impact on life in New Orleans, a city still strongly connected
to its French roots and in full embrace of its robust German community. Letters, newspapers, film reels and
records in the exhibition display the various sentiments throughout the city, with residents often expressing
support for the nations with which they felt kinship.
“Prior to America’s military involvement, New Orleanians adamantly supported international relief
efforts for nations on both sides of the war,” said Eric Seiferth, THNOC historian and curator of the exhibition.
“Locals wrote letters in French to Belgian soldiers, and the German Society held an immensely successful
fundraiser for the German Red Cross here, with a variety of businesses and notable citizens, including thenmayor Martin Behrman, donating to it.”
The U.S. entered the fight on April 6, 1917, and the effects were immediately felt in New Orleans. A
military presence was established quickly with the construction of Camp Nicholls in City Park and Camp
Martin at the New Orleans Fair Grounds (later relocated to Tulane University). Louisianans joined the U.S.
forces by the thousands. By 1918, America’s military had grown to 4.8 million personnel, 74,103 of whom
hailed from Louisiana.
Photographs, patriotic sheet music composed in the city, Liberty Loan posters and a victory garden
scrapbook illustrate the patriotism and military support that flooded New Orleans during the war. Additional
items—such as correspondence, visual art and military equipment, including the uniform of a local officer—
explore the contributions of the men and women who served through the armed forces or through organizations
like the Red Cross.
“The personal items in the exhibition contribute to the larger narrative of what it was like to participate
in a war both at the home front and while serving abroad,” said Seiferth.
The war also influenced relationships among the city’s multicultural populations.
“We have included anti-German propaganda posters to illustrate how these images and the rhetoric were
used to stoke fear and hatred of the enemy, and how that in turn impacted the city,” said Seiferth. “Our German
identity took a big hit, both in New Orleans and across the nation.”
With victory and the arrival of peace in 1918, the city celebrated just as the rest of the nation. Residents
of the Ninth Ward erected the nation’s first permanent memorial to American military personnel of World War
I—the Victory Arch in Macarty Square—in 1919.
“This exhibition helps localize a major international event,” said Seiferth. “I hope after people view it,
they will see the city and all those familiar spaces, like City Park and the Arch, with a better sense of the history
“At Home and at War” features items from THNOC’s permanent holdings, with additional pieces on
loan from Tulane University, the Newcomb Art Gallery, Jackson Barracks, private collections and the National
WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. Admission is free to the exhibition, which is on view
through May 7, 2016, at THNOC’s Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St. Gallery hours are Tuesday–
Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
About The Historic New Orleans Collection
Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the study and
preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. For more information, visit or call
(504) 523-4662.