Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, February 24, 2017

World War I Press Kit Surprises

As a publisher of a large amount of material on the First World War, I'm sent—usually unsolicited—press kits with background information, photos, and even ready to go articles, by organizations seeking to promote their coming events. During my current somewhat maddening effort to upgrade my hardware (I was still using Windows Vista on my desktop) the hardest challenge has been to transfer all my accumulated files to the new desktop and laptop. I keep uncovering resources I had forgotten I had, one category of which is my collection of these press kits. I couldn't resist going through some of these—they always send some of their best stuff—and, in doing so, I've discovered many interesting items. Here are a few pleasant surprise discoveries I've made. More will follow, I'm sure.

Source 1:
German Historical Museum, Berlin: “1914–1918. The First World War” (2014 Program)

Source 2: The U.S. National Archives: "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?—The Government's Effect on the American Diet" (2011 Exhibit)

United States Food Administration Poster, c. 1918 
During WWI the Food Administration Under Herbert Hoover Promoted
 "Wheatless Wednesdays" and "Meatless Mondays."
This Poster Suggests Cottage Cheese as a Protein Substitute. 

Mugshot of the Vile Criminal Charles Wille, 1918 
Sent to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for Breaking the Oleomargarine Laws

Source 3:
The Library of Congress: "American Artists View the War" (Open Through May 2017)

"Submarines in Dry Dock, 1917" by Pacifist Artist Joseph Pennell

 "Is It Really Getting on His Nerves?" 1917 Pro-Intervention Cartoon
by Charles Dana Gibson

Source 4:
French Tourism Board: "Visiting American Battlefields" (2016 Package)

American Troops Take Their First Meal in France

Freshly Spruced-Up Montfaucon Memorial — 234 Steps to the Top

Source 5:
Minnesota History Center and Many Other Organizations: "WW1 America"
(Opens This April in St. Paul and Will Tour the Country Afterward)

America at the Time of the War

  •  The country’s total population is 103 million (323 million today).

  • About one out of seven people is foreign-born (about the same today).

  • 90 percent of Americans are of European descent (62.6 percent today).

  • One-third of all Americans are younger than 15 (20 percent today).

  • The median age is 25 (nearly 40 today).

  • More Americans live in rural areas than in cities and towns (more than 80 percent reside in cities and suburbs today)

  • Women make up one-fifth of the paid workforce.

  • Women have full voting rights in 11 states, mostly in the West.

  • The average manufacturing job pays 53 cents an hour.

  • The federal income tax—created by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution—has only been in effect since 1913. Just one in ten Americans pays any income tax.

  • Fewer than one in four adults owns an automobile.

  • About a third of American households have a telephone.

  • There are 16 teams in Major League Baseball. The westernmost major league city is St. Louis, which supports two teams.

Compiled by the Minnesota Historical Society

Source 6: Getty Research Institute: "World War I: War of Images, Images of War" (2014–2015)

Cow Shoulder Bone Painted by a German Soldier on the Eastern Front,
Anonymous (German), 1916. Lent by Jane A. Kimball

Vaska the Prussian Cat—The Russian Foe, 1914. From "Kartinki"


  1. Hurrah for your upgrading, Mike, if it's going to spin off such interesting items as these! I found them fascinating. Thank you! David Beer

  2. Fascinating. You are most fortunate to have this wonderfully interesting collection.

  3. Oleomargarine
    "In 1915, Charles Wille was sent to the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth for a rather unique reason – crimes against butter. Wille spent more than a year in prison for violating the Oleomargarine Act of August 2, 1886.

    The Oleomargarine Act of 1886 was enacted to protect butter and the dairy institutions. In the early 1870s, margarine (aka “artificial butter” made from animal fat) caught on in the United States. It had only recently been invented in France and costed very little to produce. This made it popular among industrialists and the millions of consumers who still felt the burn of the lingering economic recession.

    Dairy interests obviously saw margarine as a real threat to their business and profit margins. They lobbied and pressured Congress to stick a hefty tax on it. The Oleomargarine Act of 1886 imposed a two-cent per pound tax. Additionally, margarine producers and sellers had to obtain special licenses. To get around the licenses and heavy taxes, people continued to manufacture the risky margarine and consumers bootlegged the butter substitute. Either way, if caught, the person could face the same fate as Charles Wille and finding themselves in the slammer.

    The Oleomargarine Act remained in effect until 1951. Wisconsin was the last state to do away with margarine restrictions in 1967."...History by Zim

    Incidentally, the British whaling operations in the South Atlantic, see South Georgia Island (Shakleton and Falkland War fame), the blubber of which was for the British mfg of margarine.