World War I Centennial, 1917-2017: Heaven, Hell or Hoboken

Fall 2017/Winter 2018

World War I Centennial, 1917-2017: Heaven, Hell or Hoboken explores how Hoboken and its residents were transformed by the United States entry into World War I on April 6, 1917. The city was declared the main point of embarkation for the U.S. Expeditionary Force bound for Europe.

Almost overnight Hoboken became a military town, as hundreds of officers and thousands of enlisted men took residence here to facilitate the logistics of the Embarkation Service. With an additional 14,000 civilian employees, they would oversee the transit of an estimated two million American servicemen to Europe—and then the soldiers’ return—from 1917 through 1919.

Through the exhibit, students will discover how the Great War affected the lives of many Americans, including residents of Hoboken, N.J. Interactive programs, enhanced for Middle and High School students, focus on topics related to the home front and life as a soldier and their journey to Europe. Students will carefully examine primary source material such as, personal letters, postcards, official documents, and photographs of the many men and women who served the country. By analyzing the Museum’s collections, students will consider the unique perspectives and contributions by the many Americans affected by the Great War, and the way the war changed them and their hometown.

All programs are $65, unless otherwise noted. All programs are interactive and hands on.

1. America at War

60 minutes

The United States entered World War I in 1917, and had a profound impact on the American culture. In this program, students will be introduced to the reasons that the United States entered the war, and explore how men were recruited to join the military. Students will also examine objects from a WWI doughboy, and imagine what life was like in the trenches of the Great War. After analyzing real stories of WWI veterans, critical thinking skills will be used to determine the individual’s reflections of their war experience.

2. The Role of the Home Front

60 minutes

The Home Front saw a massive change in the role of women, and the Federal Food Administration and conservation efforts. How did Americans who were not fighting the war contribute in their community? How do citizens of our community contribute in our society today? Students will learn about Red Cross volunteer, Mary Markey, and the many services offered by women during the war. They will then examine United War Work Campaign posters from the Museum’s collections to determine how the war affected the entire nation.

3. Hoboken’s Port of Embarkation

60 minutes

As the United States entered the war, Hoboken became a military town with hundreds of officers and thousands of enlisted men facilitating the logistics of the Embarkation Service to Europe. How did the geography of Hoboken shape our city during America’s Great War? By examining maps from the port of embarkation piers, students will discern what sorts of information can be uncovered by reading a map, and analyze how changes in our community occurred as the war prolonged. Students will use critical thinking skills and examine a letter by a WWI doughboy describing the embarkation at Hoboken and his trip to Europe.

4. German-Americans: Attitudes, Challenges, and Loyalty

60 minutes

Hoboken had been home to a large German community since the 1840s, but after the United States entered the war against Germany and its allies, Hoboken’s German residents were ostracized. What were some of the encounters that Germans living in Hoboken faced during the war, and how did the community respond to these challenges? In this program, students will explore propaganda cartoons depicting the many stereotypes and attitudes towards the German community, and learn about businesses that sought to demonstrate their loyalty and patronage to the war efforts. Using historical analysis, students will write a persuasive essay as a German resident living in Hoboken during the war, and their reflections towards experiences of discrimination and ethnic prejudice.

5. Propaganda in WWI

60 minutes

What does propaganda mean, and why were propaganda posters needed during World War I? By examining the many posters that encouraged Americans to sign up for the draft, invest in government bonds, and work for the war effort, students will compare and contrast how propaganda affected the way the American society viewed the war. Working in small groups, students will act as United War Work Campaign artists to create their own propaganda poster of the time.

6. WWI Sheet Music

60 minutes

Every war has inspired memorable songs which have contributed to the American spirit and expressed the nation’s fears, hopes, and prayers. How did music actively express patriotism in private and public settings? How did soldiers use these humorous songs as a coping mechanism for the stress of war? By examining popular war songs, students will explore these questions through comparison, contrast, and analysis.

7. Learning to Read Primary Sources

90 minutes

Primary sources can provide firsthand evidence of historical events. In this program, students will examine photographs, starting from Hoboken’s Port of Embarkation to Trench warfare in Europe, and the arrival of soldier’s at Debarkation piers, and use their five senses to describe a soldier’s life during the war. They will then analyze postcards written by a WWI doughboy, and create their own detailed personal letter as a soldier experiencing the Great War.