Joyner Library is now displaying “North Carolina in the Great War,” a traveling exhibition on loan from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
The exhibition will be on display until March 25 in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery on the library’s second floor.
“World War I happened over 100 years ago and may not seem relevant to many people today,” said Charlotte Fitz Daniels, programs and events coordinator for Joyner Library. “We hope the exhibit gives viewers more insight, especially about North Carolina’s role in the Great War. It provides a vast overview of how North Carolina participated both on the front line and on the home front.”
The exhibition includes 10 informational panels and artifacts documenting the state’s wartime efforts including a nurse and soldier uniform.
Artifacts from Joyner Library’s special collections also will be showcased, including nine scrapbook pages from Charlotte native Dorothy Repiton Knox. She began creating the 145-page scrapbook when, as she states, “the boys in our crowd went off to camp in 1917.”
During World War I, Knox worked as a Red Cross volunteer, aiding servicemen at the Southern Railway Station as well as destitute families in the poorest section of the city and surrounding mill villages. Her scrapbook includes letters and mementos that tell the story of her life and her friendships with soldiers and pilots who were stationed briefly at Camp Greene. Dorothy played an important role in assisting at the Red Cross Canteen serving troop trains and caring for flu victims in Mecklenburg County.
The display of excerpts from her scrapbook offers a glimpse into the young woman’s life and the lives of the soldiers she became friends with in Charlotte.
“I found Dorothy Knox’s meticulous documentation in the scrapbook very surprising,” said Fitz Daniels. “She is truly telling a story through the correspondence from soldiers, along with the news clippings and illustrations. The entries gave me a sense of who these people were and how in the midst of war, they still had such a strong wit and sense of humor. It’s evident through the funny letters and cartoons they sent to her.”
A small collection of items from Joyner Library’s Federal Documents Collection, published between 1916-19, are also on display. Included are a number of publications from the Committee on Public Information (CPI), which existed from 1917-19.
Dubbed by historians to be America’s “first ministry of information,” the CPI sought to mobilize American public opinion behind the war effort and to shape media coverage in a pro-government direction. Among the CPI publications on display are pamphlets that denounced German imperialism and real or alleged German war crimes.
Other CPI items discussed the Wilson administration’s war aims and provided basic information on the war. The final report of the 1918-19 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee investigating “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda” is also displayed. Chaired by N.C. Senator Lee Overman, the subcommittee is considered the forerunner of the House Un-American Activities Committee and other congressional bodies tasked with investigating domestic subversion.
“These documents help show how America’s involvement in World War I substantially changed our country,” said David Durant, federal documents and social sciences librarian for Joyner Library. “They are artifacts of both the growth of American nationalism and the increasing role played by the federal government in our society. They show the beginnings of many of the trends that continued through World War II and the early Cold War.”
Another exhibit in the Verona Joyner Langford North Carolina Collection is “North Carolina in the First World War,” featuring a rare volume entitled “Tar Heel War Record.” The collection is located on the third floor of the library.
Joyner Library will hold a reception on Friday, March 2 at 5 p.m. in the Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery. The reception is open to the public and will coincide with Uptown Greenville First Friday Artwalk. Visit http://uptowngreenville.com/play/artwalk/ to learn more.
Contact Fitz Daniels for more information at 252-328-0287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.