Just after Spring Break, we were anticipating the installation and launch of an exhibit about World War I on the second floor of the library, just outside the Archives of the Big Bend.

It all started when we got word about the Smithsonian’s traveling poster project, Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service. Then, a question was posed to our Senior Archivist Melleta Bell: Is there anything in the Archives of the Big Bend related to World War I? Melleta replied, smiling, that she had been waiting for someone to ask that question. Suddenly, the Smithsonian’s traveling poster exhibit generated the opportunity to share some true regional context about the Great War.

Of course everything changed on March 11 when the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. So we’ve moved online with hope that we can share these artifacts and documents in person at a later date.

World War I in the Big Bend Region

Brewster County soldiers, sailors and American Red Cross workers, World War I, Alpine, Texas

Of great excitement in our planning phase was the above panoramic photo taken in 1919 of soldiers, sailors, and American Red Cross workers in front of the Brewster County courthouse in Alpine by Duncan Photo of Marfa, Texas. See the full-sized scan of the photo and get more information on the Archives’ Digital Collections here, and note that it’s certainly worth seeing in person in the Archives Reading Room one day! Three individuals noted in the descriptions of Museum of the Big Bend artifacts gallery below are present in this photo: Charles Wade, Jimmie Wade, and Dom Adams.

Armistice Day Parade, November 11, 1918, Alpine, Texas

Special thanks to Senior Archivist Melleta Bell as well as Digital Collections and Metadata Librarian Emily Huang, Digital Imaging Specialist Michael Howard, and Library Assistant in Digitization Al Gomez for so quickly making these collections available online. Additional thanks to Michael Howard for noting this early use of “PhotoShop” in a photo of the 1918 Armistice Day Parade on Alpine’s main street [pictured at right and linked here]. Michael also noted the relevance of digitizing a collection from the era of the last pandemic. If you read Walter Fulcher’s letters closely you will find, like Michael did, that he was sick in Europe (France) for two weeks before he was sent home early in May 1919. Also, special thanks to the Museum of the Big Bend and specifically Curator of Collections Matt Walter, who photographed artifacts from the Museum of the Big Bend and captioned them for this virtual exhibit. Thanks, too, to our history faculty for supporting our efforts!

See more:

Click on the links below to see more from the Archives’ Digital Collections, the Museum of the Big Bend, and the Smithsonian’s poster exhibit, World War I: Lessons and Legacies.

From the SITES World War I: Lessons and Legacies Educator’s GuideThe learning begins with a compelling question: “How has our world been shaped by the legacies of World War I?” Set the stage for this investigation with the title poster. Invite students to closely examine the images and consider what changes they think might have come out of the war, citing evidence to support their ideas. Stepping into the role of historians, students can investigate this question further using the primary source materials on each poster: photographs, objects, and archival materials, as well as guiding text. Comprehension and critical thinking questions together with guided looking prompts are provided to help students pay close attention to the historical evidence.

Poster 1: World War I: Lessons and Legacies

Poster 2: Selling the War

Poster 3: Over There

Poster 4: Over Here

Poster 5: Women in the Great War

Poster 6: A World Safe for Democracy?

Poster 7: Medicine and War

Poster 8: A World Transformed

Like what you see? Want to see more? Let us know! Email srsulibrary@sulross.edu with feedback and like, share, comment on social media. @SRSULibrary on Facebook and Instagram; @MuseumoftheBigBend on Facebook and Instagram.