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Recognizing the Centennial of the Start of World War I

The Assasination of Franz Ferdinand observance
The Assasination of Franz Ferdinand observance
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

World War I is certainly a critical part of cultural heritage here in Springfield as it is around the world. This weekend in Sarajevo City Hall in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Saturday night, the Vienna Philharmonic will present a concert commemorating the historic event, on June 28, 1914, only a few miles away that is generally pointed to as the pivotal event the started what we now call World War I. Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This event set off a diplomatic crisis in Europe that eventually led to war in Europe and around the world.

What does date and event mean to us here in Springfield and the Ozarks, you may ask. The Springfield-Greene County Library is leading a state wide initiative to document Missouri's experience during World War I. Did you have ancestors or relatives involved in this major conflict during the second decade of the twentieth century? Very likely you did. Their actions then still reverberate in our lives today.

I recently read two books set in that time period and my "take-away" was that much confusion existed about the war then and continues to exist to this day. Even noted historians do not agree on the cause, nor on the prosecution, of that war. The Library is encouraging each of us to take these next couple of years to consider the impact of that period on each of us and to specifically document your family involvement of the war period, if you have not done so already. View missourioverthere.org as a great starting point.

The "Missouri Over There" blog will investigate Missouri's involvement and be a precursor to the statewide collaborative digitization project, "Over There: Missouri." It has begun with regular posts on Missouri World War I history. Staff assigned to the project include: in Columbia, Claire Marks; in Kansas City, Whitney Heinzmann; in St. Louis, Rochelle Caruthers; and in Springfield, Gary Larsen.

Related upcoming events include the following:

  • "On the Brink: A Month That Changed the World" Exhibit: National World War I Musuem, Open March 15-September 15, 2014.
  • Thomas Hart Benton Display, Featured Event: National World War I Museum, Open April 19-October 12.
  • "Over by Christmas: August-December 1914" Exhibit: National World War I Museum, Open May 3 - March 29, 2015.
  • "All Quiet on the Western Front" Screening: The Library Center - Springfield, Saturday, August 9, 2-4:30 p.m.

See the tab on the blog for a full list of Partners & Contributors to the blog.