A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War

SUNY Press
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 Focuses on the posters of World War I as a medium to interpret the tremendous role played by New York State and its citizens in the war effort.
“New York’s pride is the pride of things done. Her leadership is no more due to her great wealth or her large population than to the patriotism of her citizens and the uses to which her wealth is put. In every war in which this country has engaged, she has shown a spirit of sacrifice that has made her preeminent among the States.”

It was with these words that New York State Governor Charles S. Whitman urged his fellow New Yorkers to purchase Liberty Bonds in support of the war effort on April 6, 1918. He reminded New Yorkers and the nation that the Empire State once again led all others in the numbers of men, the amount of money, and the tonnage of material supplied to American forces during World War I.

A companion catalog to the New York State Museum exhibition of the same name, A Spirit of Sacrifice documents the statewide story of New York in World War I through the collections of the State’s Office of Cultural Education comprised of the New York State Museum, Library, and Archives. Within these world-class collections are the nearly 3,600 posters of the Benjamin W. Arnold World War I Poster Collection at the New York State Library. By interweaving the story of New York in the Great War and utilizing the tremendous artifacts within the pictorial history revealed by the posters of the era and primary source documentation, this exhibition catalog serves as both a display of poster art and a more comprehensive examination of the primacy of the state’s contributions to America’s foray into World War I. Posters and objects from museums, libraries, and historical societies from across New York State as well as iconic artifacts and images are all included here. Brought together they tell the story of New York State’s essential role in the First World War.

“A Spirit of Sacrifice, both as an exhibit and as a stand-alone publication, is a wonderful resource for those studying New York’s history. The book, with clarity and an array of superb photos from the exhibit, delves fully into the story of New Yorkers and the Great War and firmly establishes New York as the engine that drove the U.S. war effort. World War I was a geopolitical and sociological event of such magnitude that we are still struggling with its ramifications one-hundred years later. A Spirit of Sacrifice is a testimony to this world-changing event and its effects on the Empire State.” — Devin R. Lander, New York State Historian
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About the author

 Aaron Noble is a Senior Historian and Curator at the New York State Museum and the coauthor (with Robert Weible and Jennifer A. Lemak) of An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War, also published by SUNY Press. Keith Swaney is an Archives and Records Management Specialist at the New York State Archives. Vicki Weiss is a librarian in the manuscripts and special collections unit of the New York State Library and the coauthor (with Paul Mercer) of The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Dec 4, 2017
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Pages
378
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ISBN
9781438467801
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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World War I highlighted the influence of newspapers in rousing and maintaining public support for the war effort. Discussions of the role of the press in the Great War have, to date, largely focused on atrocity stories. This book offers the first comparative analysis of how newspapers in Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary attempted to define war, its objectives, and the enemy. Presented country-by-country, expert essays examine, through use of translated articles from the contemporary press, how newspapers of different nations defined the war for their readership and the ideals they used to justify a war and support governments that some segments of the press had opposed just a few months earlier.

During the opening months of the war, governments attempted to influence public opinion functioned in a largely negative fashion, for example, the censoring of military information or criticisms of government policies. There was little effort to provide a positive message to sway readers. As a result, newspapers had a relatively free hand in justifying the war and the reasons for their respective nation's involvement. Partisan politics was a staple of the pre-war press; thus, newspapers could and did define the war in terms that reflected their own political ideals and agenda. Conservative, liberal, and socialist newspapers all largely supported the war (the ones that did not were shut down immediately), but they did so for different reasons and hoped for different outcomes if their side was victorious.

'I wouldn't have had one of you stay at home though I had a dozen sons. That is, if it is the noble war they all say it is. . . Surely they wouldn't deceive mothers.' -- J.M. Barrie

In September 1914, twenty-five of Britain's most distinguished authors met under the chairmanship of C.F.G. Masterman, head of the war propaganda bureau, to discuss how they could assist the Allied effort. They included such prominent figures as H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, John Masefield, John Buchan, Edith Wharton and Henry James. In The Great War of Words Peter Buitenhuis tells the hitherto unknown story of the secret collaboration between leading writers and the government. He examines the propaganda books and articles they wrote -- and also the work of those opposed to the war, such as G.B. Shaw and Bertrand Russell.

The official line was the the 'urbane' French and the 'decent' British had to defend civilization against the savagery of the invading 'Huns'. However, after the war, many writers became deeply embittered about the Allied propaganda machine and their role in it. There was a growing conviction that too many lies had been told and that in propagating Allied myths, they had sacrificed the all-important detachment of the writer. Buitenhuis chronicles both the disillusionment of the former propagandists and the reaction against their elders by younger writers, many of whom had served in the trenches. The consequences for post-war literature were profound: the prestige and power of authorship dwindled significantly, while the old rhetoric based on a widely held consensus collapsed and was replaced by lean, ironic and often understated modes of writing.

 Chronicles the history of the women’s rights and suffrage movements in New York State and examines the important role the state played in the national suffrage movement.
The work for women’s suffrage started more than seventy years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and one hundred supporters signed the Declaration of Sentiments asserting that “all men and women are created equal.” This convention served as a catalyst for debates and action on both the national and state level, and on November 6, 1917, New York State passed the referendum for women’s suffrage. Its passing in New York signaled that the national passage of suffrage would soon follow. On August 18, 1920, “Votes for Women” was constitutionally granted.

Votes for Women, an exhibition catalog, celebrates the pivotal role the state played in the struggle for equal rights in the nineteenth century, the campaign for New York State suffrage, and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. It highlights the nationally significant role of state leaders in regards to women’s rights and the feminist movement through the early twenty-first century and includes focused essays from historians on the various aspects of the suffrage and equal rights movements around New York, providing greater detail about local stories with statewide significance.

The exhibition of the same name, on display at the New York State Museum beginning November 2017, features artifacts from the New York State Museum, Library, and Archives, as well as historical institutions and private collections across the state.

“There is something intimate, inspiring, and strengthening about seeing words created by and names in the handwriting of women who fought the earlier stages of the struggle for equality and shared humanity that is so crucial today. I’m grateful for this exhibit and catalog that are just the kind of reminder we need to keep going.” — Gloria Steinem

“The New York State Museum has put on an extraordinary exhibit to commemorate the women’s suffrage movement and the Nineteenth Amendment, and I hope it inspires a new generation of women and men to raise their voices about all the injustices in their lives.” — Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator for New York State

“Congratulations to Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton for their wonderful book, Votes for Women.The book, and the exhibition upon which it is based, are great gifts from the authors to all New Yorkers who seek to learn more about the varied and vital role women have played in history. The stories and images included in the book bring the valiant women who came before us vividly to life and challenge us to continue their fight for full equality for women.” — Pam Elam, President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund
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