Local History - World War I

 

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Russell Library presents, World War One: America Answered the Call, a series of programs in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War One. 

EXHIBIT

World War One Poster Exhibit

October 2-December 1.  Russell Library commemorates the 100th anniversary of America’s participation in World War One with an exhibition of posters from the library’s collection.

Over the Top: Liberty and Victory Bond Posters from World War I brings together a variety of posters that focus on the four Liberty Loan campaigns, the War Savings Stamp program, and Victory Loan campaigns. These persuasive posters, with bold graphics and concise commands, encouraged citizens to support the troops and buy bonds to finance America's participation in the war, and reveal the American experience in the early 20th century.

EVENTS

World War I Discussion Series

Wednesdays, October 4, 11, 18, and 25, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Conference Room, Senior and Community Center, 61 Durant Terrace, Middletown, CT

Join a discussion series to explore the American experience of war and its role in shaping the contemporary world.   Selected readings from World War One and

America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It, a compilation of first person accounts written by Americans who experienced it firsthand, will be discussed.  Participants are encouraged to read the selected readings prior to the event. Free copies of the readings are available at the Russell Library or online at the links listed below.  The discussion series will be facilitated by Army veteran, historian, and librarian, Arthur Meyers.  For additional information, please call the Russell Library at 860-347-2520.

Topics/Readings from World War I and America:

 

World War I and America: A Centennial Discussion Series/ Evening Program

Wednesdays, October 4, 11, 18, and 25, 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Room 2, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

The Russell Library invites veterans and their families, together with the public, to explore the American experience of war and its role in shaping the contemporary world.  Selected readings from World War One and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It, a compilation of first person accounts written by Americans who experienced it firsthand, will be discussed.  Participants are encouraged to read the selected readings prior to the event.  Free copies of the readings are available at the library or online at the links listed below. The discussion series will be facilitated by Army veteran, historian, and librarian, Arthur Meyers.  For more information, please email drusso@russelllibrary.org or call 860-347-2520.

Topics/Readings from World War I and America:

 

World War I on the Big Screen: Sergeant York 

Thursday, October 5, 6:00 -8:00 p.m.
 Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

Join us for a screening and discussion of Howard Hawks’ 1941 biopic of WWI hero Alvin C. York. Sergeant York stars Gary Cooper as York, a Tennessee farmer and pacifist drafted at the onset of America’s involvement in WWI. York’s expert marksmanship earns him quick promotion and forces him to come to terms with his beliefs. It is a story of conversion, heroism, and moral fortitude, for which Cooper received an Academy Award. Cooper’s performance as the reluctant hero who views his actions as necessary but not honorable, in many ways embodies America’s collective attitude to WWI. The film depicts WWI in human terms while speaking to America on the eve of WWII.

Scott Higgins is Chair and Professor of the College of Film and the Moving Image at Wesleyan University. He teaches courses on film history, genre, and aesthetics. His books include Harnessing the Technicolor Rainbow; Arnheim for Media Studies; and most recently Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial.

 

Russell Library Veteran’s Writing Group Explores World War One

Thursdays, October 12, 19, and 26, 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Room 2, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

The Russell Library invites veterans and their families, together with the public, to join the Russell Library Veteran’s Writing Group for a three part series to explore the American experience of war and its role in shaping the contemporary world. The library will present selected readings from World War One and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It, a compilation of first person accounts written by Americans on the battlefield and at home. Participants will be encouraged to write about their personal military experiences or to respond to the readings. If they choose, they may share their essays with others in the group, or with family and friends. 

 

Author Talk: To Vietnam in Vain by Edward A. Hagan

Thursday, November 2, 7:00 p.m.
Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

Edward A. Hagan will discuss the writing of his memoir: To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor, 1969-1970.  Published in 2016, the book is a product partially of research in the National Archives, the U.S. Army Center of Military History, and the West Point Library.  Hagan will discuss how he coupled forty years of rumination about his participation in the war with three years of research into the activities of Advisory Team 56 in the Mekong Delta.   His research led him to find out about the military service of his Irish-born father and grandfather in two world wars.  His memoir could not have been written right after the war because much of the material now in research libraries was unavailable as it was classified.  Hagan will focus on the decisions he made as a researcher as well as his personal evolution as a writer.  He hopes his discussion will empower others, especially veterans, to tell their stories.

Hagan is Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor of Writing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. 

Doughboys and Yeomanettes: Tracing Your World War One Family History

Thursday, November 9, 7:00 p.m. 
Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

Was your ancestor in the military during the First World War?  Discover how the Great War affected your family through records, photographs and much more. Join Bryna O’Sullivan, a Middletown based professional genealogy researcher and teacher, who will explain how to effectively search military and civil records, newspaper reports, veterans’ questionnaires, and more for ancestors who fought or had connections to World War One, and how online resources can best be used to discover their experiences during the conflict.  Information on how to request copies of military service files via the National Archives will also be available. Bring your own laptop or the library will provide one so you can access resources on your own. 

This workshop is open to the public and free to attend.  Registration is suggested but not required.  Please call the Information Department at (860) 347-2520 for additional information.

 

Searching For Great-Uncle Jerry, Over Here & Over There
Songs of World War One performed by Tom Callinan

Thursday, November 16, 7:00 p.m.
Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT

On Thursday, November 16th, at 7:00pm the Russell Library will host Middletown native Tom Callinan – designated Connecticut's First Official State Troubadour in 1991 – to present a program of diverse songs from and about World War I.  Drawing on his extensive repertoire, and his 40-year career as a full-time creative and performing artist, Tom's presentation will serve as a retrospective, coinciding with the Centennial of the United States' active involvement in "The Great War."

Using his entertaining and informative style, Mr. Callinan will weave a narrative, combining songs and anecdotes about the war as the backdrop to look through the prism of history, to that which was euphemistically dubbed "The War To End All Wars."  However, Tom's overarching goal will be to help unravel a life-long family mystery.

Since boyhood, Tom had learned through family legend and lore that his maternal Great-Uncle Jeremiah J. Coleman had served with the American Expeditionary Forces, and was killed at Chateau Thierry, France in 1918.  Private Coleman was interred in St. John's Cemetery, and Tom knew that one of the trees on the Washington Terrace Green had been planted in his memory.  But he had always wondered why Jeremiah J. Coleman's name was not included on the World War I obelisk, listing Middletown's lost sons.

With the assistance of the Middlesex County Historical Society and the Russell Library's archives of period newspaper articles, Tom was able to chronicle his process of learning more about Jeremiah's life, and as a result, he composed, "Searching For Great-Uncle Jerry".  He hopes it will not only help keep Private Coleman's name and memory alive, but it may inspire others to find out more about their respective family histories.

In addition to Tom's original composition, other songs in the program will include: patriotic songs that saw our troops march off to war, full of exuberance and bravado; songs of farewell; popular songs from the music halls and Tin Pan Alley; those that dealt with the loss of innocence, resulting from the soldiers' time spent overseas; the most popular anti-war song of the period; and contemporary songs, reflecting on aspects of the war.  A multi-instrumentalist, Tom will be self-accompanied with an assortment of musical instruments from the string, wind, and percussion families.

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PREVIOUS EXHIBITS AND EVENTS

World War I Poster Exhibits
April 5-29, throughout the library

Russell Library commemorates the 100th anniversary of America’s participation in World War One with exhibitions of posters from the library’s collection.

Food Will Win the War brings together a variety of food conservation posters from the library’s collection featuring images that persuaded, informed, and inspired Americans to eat less, garden more, and preserve the bounty from their gardens to help win the war.

The Knowledge Wins exhibition represents a small collection of library posters promoting the work of the Library War Service.  Also on display are several hand-made posters created for the Russell Library.

Over There: The World War I Diaries of Dr. Jessie Weston Fisher

Wednesday, April 12, 7:00p.m. 
Hubbard Room

In April, 1918, Dr. Jessie Fisher left her home, her husband and her son in Middletown, to do her part for our nation’s effort in the First World War. She traveled to France, where she worked for the American Red Cross at a hospital at Beauvais, in Picardy.  During her time abroad Jessie kept two diaries, documenting her part in one of the most historically significant events of the 20th century.

Sarah Fisher Spencer, Jessie Fisher’s great-granddaughter, Beverly York and Rick Spencer will present readings from Jessie Fisher’s diaries, narration on her life and time in France, historic images, and songs of the period.

This program has been made possible in part by Library of America, the Connecticut State Library and a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Connecticut’s Role in WWI

Wednesday, April 19, 7:00p.m.
Hubbard Room

Christine Pittsley, Project Director for Remembering World War One community archiving project at the Connecticut State Library, will explore the role Connecticut played leading up to the war, what was happening on the home front while our soldiers fought in the trenches, stories of local contributions to the war effort, and how Connecticut commemorated the war.  From Liberty Loan campaigns and victory gardens to local soldiers and nurses on the front lines, you will also learn about the ways Middletown contributed to winning the war.

This program has been made possible in part by Library of America, the Connecticut State Library and a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Middletown World War I Digitization Day

Thursday, April 27, 3:00 pm-7:00p.m.
Hubbard Room

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War One. In an effort to help preserve this significant piece of our history, the Russell Library will be partnering with the Connecticut State Library’s Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories project to hold a digitization day event. Help us learn more about the men and women who served during World War One by bringing your photographs, letters, documents, mementos, and other materials to be scanned or photographed. The digital images and stories will be added to a WWI collection in the Connecticut Digital Archive where they will be preserved for future generations.

For more information about this event, please contact the Russell Library at (860) 347-2520 or Christine Pittsley at (860) 757-6517 or go to CTinWWI@ct.gov.
Sponsored in part by the Connecticut State Library and a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

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