Missouri Over There


Photograph of Wayne Miner, American Legion Post #149 - October 20,1921

Image courtesy of Black Archives of Mid-America

African Americans and World War I

Written by Jennifer D. Keene

President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation that the United States was fighting “to make the world safe for democracy” rang hollow for many African Americans. Wilson had already disappointed civil rights leaders by allowing federal agencies to re-segregate their offices and by endorsing the white supremacist message of the controversial film Birth of a Nation.  Determined to fight for democracy at home and abroad, many African Americans saw the war as an opportunity to press forward with their demands for equality.  During the period of neutrality most African Americans (like most Americans) remained indifferent to the larger geo-political issues surrounding the war. Many workers, however, immediately recognized the economic opportunities the war provided. The war had disrupted the flow of ch… Continue Reading

Soldiers enjoying a snack - n.d.

American Doughboys Overseas

Written by Jennifer D. Keene

The United States entered World War I in April 1917, two and a half years after the war started. Having made few preparations beforehand, it took the nation nearly a year to raise, train, and transport an expeditionary force overseas. American soldiers only fought along the Western Front in 1918, a period when the trench deadlock broke open and a war of movement resumed. Doughboys certainly spent a fair amount of time in the trenches, but sustaining momentum in battle proved the greater challenge during the fall 1918 when most American soldiers entered the front lines.   The nation relied primarily on conscription to raise the wartime force, although Regular Army and National Guard units accepted volunteers until December 1917. The enlisted population reflected the multi-ethnic and racial… Continue Reading

Soldiers and mule - n.d.

Missouri Horses and Mules

Written by Michael Price

Although rapid technological innovations in the early twentieth century revolutionized warfare, World War I armies still relied heavily on horses and mules for transporting equipment.  A seemingly insatiable demand for livestock by the Allied armies made the sale of horses and mules one of Missouri’s greatest contributions to the war effort.  In fact, the large supply of farm stock in America proved to be a crucial advantage for the Allies.  In 1914, Germany had 4 million horses and mules.  England and France together could only muster 6 million, but America had 25 million. 1 Despite the availability of trucks, there were several reasons why commanders still depended on animal power to move men and equipment in World War I.  Trucks became less reliable the closer they got to the front.  T… Continue Reading

Walt Disney at age 16, standing next to an ambulance he illustrated.

Son of the Midwest

Written by Steven Watts

Walt Disney, whose working-class parents struggled to make a living, spent much of his boyhood on the move.  He was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois. His first name honored the preacher of the local Congregational church, of which his parents were devoted members, while his middle name, Elias, came from his father, a carpenter and occasional lay preacher. Only a handful of photographs have survived from his infancy, but one depicts the nine-month-old Walt seated on a wicker fan-back chair in a frilly white baby gown and slippers, looking curiously out at the camera. His older brother Roy remembered pushing him along the street in a baby carriage and buying him small toys with his odd-job earnings. Elias Disney worked as a small-time contractor, building houses throughout the… Continue Reading

Missouri draft men - n.d.

The Coming of the War

Written by Michael S. Neiberg

What we now call the First World War might well have been known to history as the Third Balkan War. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 by a young Serbian patriot struck most Europeans in 1914 as a Balkan problem that hardly touched their lives. In the summer of 1914 few Europeans foresaw a war and fewer still wanted one. The vast majority of them expected that the assassination of the archduke would soon pass as had so many previous crises in Europe. This feeling of security changed on July 23, 1914. On that day, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia, whose leaders they believed had been behind the assassination plot. The ultimatum demanded that Serbia meet a series of conditions within 48 hours or Austria-Hungary would announce that a state… Continue Reading