World War I. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. The conflict that enveloped the globe from July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918, backlit an intense home-front struggle as Americans debated their individual and collective relationship to the conflict. Should the United States be involved in the war? If so, then to what extent and in what capacity?
The vigorous—and, at times, vicious—public debate over these questions was facilitated by an unprecedented array of media and performance outlets, including such recent inventions as recorded sound and motion pictures. Throughout the period, government at all levels, in addition to private organizations and individual citizens, used these communication tools in an increasingly sophisticated manner, all in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the nation. Truly, never before in the country’s history had Americans been so widely, and energetically, courted. And never in its history had the concept of Americanism—of what it means to be an American—been so hotly contested.
Drawing from collections across The New York Public Library, Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind explores the manner in which public relations, propaganda, and mass media in its many forms were used to shape and control public opinion about the war while also noting social and political issues that continue to resonate, such as freedom of speech and the press, xenophobia, and domestic espionage.
Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman. Additional support for this exhibition has been provided by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation, Inc., in memory of Ruth and Seymour Klein.
Now through February 15,
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Learn more about this exhibition.