Past Gallery Exhibit – Galveston & the Great War

April 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the First World War. In commemoration of this pivotal event in world history, Rosenberg Library unveiled Galveston & the Great War. Galveston & the Great War featured original World War I-era artifacts, documents, and photographs from the Library’s outstanding historical collections.

Ft. Crockett

Galveston’s Fort Crockett during World War I
(image courtesy of Rosenberg Library’s Galveston and Texas History Center)

Galveston & the Great War included military gear, war souvenirs, and propaganda posters. Wartime correspondence and even a local soldier’s diary was on display, as well as 6 of the original 77 World War I memorial markers which were once placed at the bases of oak trees on the Broadway esplanade in honor of fallen Galveston soldiers.

U.S. Entry into WWI

Though WWI began in Europe in 1914, the United States maintained a position of neutrality until 1917. Growing unrest surrounding wartime atrocities coupled with Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare led to America’s entry into the war. Men between the ages of 21 and 30 were required to register for military service, and over 4 million Americans ultimately served during the First World War. Millions more — many of them women and children — organized locally to support the war effort by raising relief funds and producing food and other supplies for troops overseas.

Galveston’s Role in the War

Locally, Fort Crockett served as a U.S. Army training center where troops received artillery training before being deployed to France to fight the Germans. Besides preparing troops for the European front, military officials at Fort Crockett monitored the Gulf of Mexico for potential threats from German submarines. Substantial gun batteries stood ready to defend Galveston’s coastline.