Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: 10-Part Lecture Series

August 21, 2016 – May 7, 2017 • 4pm

Location: Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., (201) 656-2240

In the summer of 1914, nationalist fervor drove European nations into war. Although the United States did not enter the Great War until the spring of 1917, the conflict that would later be known as World War I had an enormous impact on Hoboken, a small city with large immigrant communities and a busy port.

As early as July 1916, the war intruded on Hudson County with the explosion of a munitions depot on Black Tom Island, just off the coast of Jersey City. The explosion shattered glass for miles around, yet the incident was initially downplayed, to avoid ramping up public support for America’s entry into World War I.

When America formally entered the war on April 6, 1917, Hoboken’s waterfront became central to the war effort as the government seized the German ships docked there and commandeered the piers, which became the army’s port of embarkation for American troops. Some 2 million soldiers passed through Hoboken on their way to or from Europe.

Near the end of the war, General John Pershing rallied the troops for a swift conclusion to the war with the rallying cry, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken.”

Learn more about the “war to end all wars” through a series of lectures by 10 visiting authors, scholars and professors, from August 21, 2016 through May 7, 2017. Topics ranged from the rhetoric that characterized the role of women during WWI to a critical view of the wartime leadership of Woodrow Wilson. See below for videos from the series.

  • Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Port of Embarkation - Mark Van Ells
    On May 7, 2017, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Mark Van Ells, who is the author of America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide (Interlink Books, 2014), as…
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  • Harlem's Rattlers and The Great War - Jeffrey Sammons
    On November 6, 2016, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Jeffrey T. Sammons is an American historian and professor. His areas of research and interest include African-American history, military history, and sports history. He…
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  • A Seaport at War With Itself - Steven H Jaffe
    On April 23, 2017, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Steven Jaffe, a writer and historian specializing in the history of New York City. Jaffe is a curator at the…
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  • A City on the Eve of War - Christina Ziegler-McPherson
    On November 20, 2016, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Christina Ziegler-McPherson, a public historian in the New York City area. She holds a PhD in history from the University…
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  • Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen - Christopher Capozzola
    On March 12, 2017, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Christopher Capozzola, who teaches courses in political and legal history, war and the military, and the history of international migration…
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  • Woodrow Wilson's Failure of Wartime Leadership - Richard Striner
    On December 11, 2016, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Richard Striner, Professor of History at Washington College, author of Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A Burden Too Great…
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  • The Women of Peace and Preparedness: Motherhood and Maternalism in World War I - Lisa Mastrangelo
    On February 12, 2017, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Lisa Mastrangelo, PhD, who teaches Composition and Rhetoric and Professional Writing courses at Centenary College, and is the author of…
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  • Illusions and Realities of World War 1 - Thomas Fleming
    On October 16, 2016, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Thomas Fleming, historian and historical novelist born in Jersey City, NJ, the son of a World War I hero who…
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  • The First Attack on the Homeland - Howard Blum
    On September 11, 2016, our lecture series, "Heaven, Hell or Hoboken: Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of World War I, featured Howard Blum, historian and author of Dark Invasion, 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in…
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  • The 100th Anniversary of the Black Tom Explosion - Chad Millman
    The Hoboken Historical Museum inaugurated its World War I Centennial lecture series, "Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken," on August 21, 2016 with Chad Millman, author of "The Detonators," an in-depth look at the July 1916 sabotage plot to blow up a…
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The series is supported by a Special Project Grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise County Executive and the Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with the Tom Kennedy American Legion Post #107, Hoboken, NJ.

Additional support comes from “World War I and America,” a two-year national initiative of Library of America presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and other organizations, with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities.

  • August 21, 4 pm: “The 100th Anniversary of the Black Tom Explosion,” by Chad Millman, author of The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and an Epic Hunt for Justice (Little, Brown & Co., 2006)
     
  • September 11, 4 pm: “The First Attack on the Homeland,” by Howard Blum, author of Dark Invasion, 1915: Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America (HarperCollins, 2014)
     
  • October 16, 4 pm: “Illusions and Realities of World War I,” by Thomas Fleming, Jersey City native and author of The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I (Basic Books, 2004)
     
  • November 6, 4 pm: “Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: From Hoboken to the Rhine and Back,” by Jeffrey Sammons, PhD, Professor of History at NYU and co-author of Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality (University Press of Kansas, 2014)
     
  • November 27, 1 pm: “A City on the Eve of War, Hoboken in 1916-1917: Some Recent Research,” by Christina Ziegler-McPherson, PhD, author of Immigrants in Hoboken: One-Way Ticket to America, 1845-1985 (History Press, 2011)
     
  • December 11, 4 pm: “Woodrow Wilson’s Failure of Wartime Leadership,” by Richard Striner, PhD, Professor of History, Washington College, and author of Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A Burden Too Great to Bear (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)

2017

  • February 12, 4 pm: “The Women of Peace and Preparedness: The Use of Motherhood and Maternalism in World War I,” by Lisa Mastrangelo, PhD, Assistant Professor of English, Centenary College, and author of forthcoming paper, The Rhetoric of Maternalism: The Use of Motherhood as a Trope in World War I
     
  • March 12, 4 pm: “Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen,” by Christopher Capozzola, PhD, Associate Professor of History at MIT, and author of Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen (Oxford University Press, 2008)
     
  • April 23, 4 pm: “A Seaport at War with Itself: Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians and African Americans in Wartime Greater New York,” by Steven H. Jaffe, author of New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham (Basic Books, 2012)
     
  • May 7, 4 pm: “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken: The U.S. Army Port of Embarkation in Hoboken During World War I,” by Mark Van Ellis, PhD, Professor of History, Queensborough Community College, and author of America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide (Interlink Books, 2014)