Millions of Americans served in World War I. Over 150,000 of them were Missourians.
“Over There: Missouri and the Great War” is a statewide collaborative project that documents Missouri’s role in World War I. Right now the traveling exhibit resides in Meyer Library.
“What happened in World War I impacts your life,” said Craig Amason, special projects coordinator for Meyer Library. “You might not realize it, but by the time you finish reading all these panels you should know.”
Amason has worked for Meyer Library since June 2019 and pushed for the library to host the exhibit.
“It tells a very compelling story and it’s also pretty relevant for us living in Missouri,” Amason said. “Plus, we’re at about 100 years after World War I.”
Missouri played a significant part in America’s involvement in WWI. From the time the U.S.
entered the war in 1917 to its end in 1918, Missouri had more than 11,000 casualties in World War I along with five Medal of Honor recipients. General John Pershing from Laclede County led the American Expeditionary Force.
The exhibit is a series of panels showing photos and explaining various roles Missouri played in the war, from the soldiers themselves to the massive export of horses and mules for the war effort.
“It’s interesting to see contributions we don’t normally think about,” Amason said.
Amason said with the tumultuous times MSU students live in, war and the potential for war are likely prevalent on students’ minds. He sees the exhibit as a way to look back and see the impacts war has made on Missouri.
“I just think it puts things in perspective,” Amason said.
In addition to hosting the exhibit, Meyer Library Special Collections and University Archives has also put up a display outside the room with some of their own artifacts for students to peruse. The items range from photos of the Student Army Training Corps, Missouri State’s ROTC predecessor, to military insignia and artifacts.
Tracie Gieselman-Holthaus, archivist at Special Collections and University Archives, says their artifacts rely mostly on receiving donations. Most of the military insignia is part of their Morgan Collection, a massive collection of artifacts donated by Missouri State alumni Pete Morgan and his wife Sarah.
Gieselman-Holthaus said their main goal is to preserve and share history, and find value in sharing history that goes beyond what makes it into textbooks.
“You’re going to find out little details that really make history significant to you,” Gieselman-Holthaus said.
Amason said getting “Over There: Missouri and the Great War” displayed in the library along with the display cases outside came about through coordination with special collections.
“I couldn’t do this without them,” Amason said. “They could do it without me, but I couldn’t do it without them.”
The exhibit is scheduled to be on display in the library in room 107 until February 27.
“I encourage students to come by and look at the exhibit,” Amason said. “If you do nothing more than just browse through the panels, just take a look at it.”