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19, August 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories: “Chow” Time

William H. Danforth was born in Mississippi County, Missouri, in 1870. An ambitious man, in 1894 he founded the Purina Mills Company at age 24. A significant producer of animal feed, Purina Mills later expanded into breakfast cereals. After its cereals received an endorsement from Webster Edgerly, founder of the pseudo-health and social movement known as Ralstonism, Purina Mills renamed itself Ralston-Purina. The company experienced great success in the early 1900s, in large part due to World War I. Read more »

30, June 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories: Branch Rickey

Best known as the man who broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey spent much of his baseball career in St. Louis—as a player, a manager, and in the front office for the St. Louis Browns and later the St. Louis Cardinals. Rickey played with the St. Louis Browns (1905 and 1906) and the New York Highlanders (1907). After putting up atrocious numbers, he decided to return to college to pursue a law degree. Rickey attended the University of Michigan, where he managed the school’s baseball team. Read more »

5, June 2015

World War I Artifacts and Memories: Charles Chouteau Johnson and the Lafayette Escadrille

As war raged across Europe between 1914 and 1917, the American military sat on the sidelines while the U.S. government sustained its policy of neutrality. However, a number of Americans volunteered for service in foreign armies. Among them was St. Louisan Charles Chouteau Johnson. He served in the famous Lafayette Escadrille, named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution. Read more »

15, May 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories: An Artist Overseas

Often when learning about World War I the focus is on the men in the trenches. Visions of going “over the top” and charging headlong into no man’s land and certain doom are evoked. Though this was a common experience for many of soldiers who served during the First World War, it was far from the only experience. Read more »

7, May 2015

World War I Artifacts and Memories: Sinking of the Lusitania

May 7, 2015, marks 100 years since the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by German submarine U-20. A British passenger ship on its way from New York to Liverpool, England, the Lusitania was running a risk traveling through waters that were at the time declared a war zone by Germany. The sinking of the Lusitania was a watershed moment in the conflict, serving as a galvanizing force in the United States that eventually led to their declaration of war against Germany less than a year later. Read more »

9, April 2015

World War I Artifacts and Memories: St. Charles Car Company

Following the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, industries across the United States recognized opportunity and began to shift their focus to building war materials for the belligerent nations. The St. Louis region was no exception, and from 1914 to 1918 an industrial boom ensued. One of the many companies in the area to benefit from government contracts was the St. Charles Car Company. Read more »

27, March 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories: Fritz Von Versen’s Letters from the German Front

At the outbreak of World War I, Missouri and St. Louis had a substantial population claiming German origins or heritage. The percentage of Missouri’s population that was first-generation German was 11.2, the largest immigrant group in the state, and 20% of St. Louis’s population was either born in Germany or claimed both parents were born in Germany. Read more »

13, March 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories—Gas Warfare

The First World War debuted ruinous tools of warfare that wreaked havoc on the warring armies. Among these were the machine gun, the armored tank, aircraft, and chemical warfare. All of these technologies had seen limited service around the world in the years prior, but until World War I they had not been utilized to such a devastating degree. Read more »

23, February 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories—From the Mexican Border to Northern France

For many Missourians military service did not start with World War I. Rather, it began on the Mexican border after the Mexican Revolution in 1910. American soldiers stationed on the Mexican border would clash with Mexican rebels over several years, culminating in the 1916 Punitive Expedition, during which General John J. Pershing pursued Pancho Villa into Mexico. The events on the Mexican border resulted in the mobilization of National Guard regiments across the country, including the Missouri National Guard. Read more »

12, February 2015

WWI Artifacts and Memories: Service Flags

The First World War saw the largest mobilization of United States armed forces since the Civil War. Soldiers, sailors, and marines were drawn from the National Guard, volunteers, and conscription. By the war's end the armed forces had swelled to a staggering three million personnel. Patriotic fervor also swelled, and a desire to outwardly display support of the military led to the creation of the service flag, also known as a “son in service flag” or “blue star flag,” which is still used today. Read more »