Grove City College will mark the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I with an ambitious, multi-media exhibit highlighting the role the College and the community played in “The Great War.”
The exhibit features relics of the war years, including gas masks, uniforms, trench art, medals and more, historical documents, photographs, posters and additional artifacts culled from collections maintained by the College, the Grove City Historical Society and local collector Joel Bigley.
“The Great War” will be in place in the Gallery of Pew Fine Arts Center on campus in the weeks surrounding Armistice Day, the holiday that originally marked the end of the war and which is now known as Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Grove City College Archivist Hilary (Lewis ’09) Walczak curated the exhibit, which runs from Nov. 3 to 16. The Gallery will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“The First World War is an often forgotten war, but it was instrumental in the makeup of the modern world. This exhibit will highlight the historical connections of the College and community’s involvement as well as how it impacted the world,” Walczak said.
“During the war the College and community worked side by side. We aim to represent what the College and town looked like at the time, their involvement in the war effort and the overall significance of the conflict on a community thousands of miles from the front,” she added.
The exhibit tells the story of the Grove City community’s response the U.S. decision to enter the war in April 1917.
Nearly 500 young men from the town and the College answered the nation’s call to serve on the battlefields of Europe, many as part of Company M, Grove City’s National Guard unit, which trained on campus. Patriotic fervor of the time cast the young men donning the uniform as “defenders of liberty and freedom.”
Local industry and businesses contributed what they could to the war effort, including Grove City’s Bessemer Gas Engine Company. A generation before “Rosie the Riveter,” “Pioneer Women Workers” labored in to fill the jobs left vacant when the “Bessemer Boys” went off to fight.
A year and a half later, the war was over and most of the men returned to Grove City and the College. Twenty-one did not.
Grove City College students Bethany Funk ’18 and Samuel Archibald-Gutshall ’18 worked with Walczak on the exhibit.
The impact of the so-called "war to end all wars" on the century that followed its conclusion in November 1918 is also the focus of this spring’s annual conference held by the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The conservative think tank will present "World War I and the Shaping of the Modern World” April 12 and 13, 2018 on campus.