12/12/2014 Peter Durantine

World War I Museum Pops Up in College Center

A new museum suddenly materialized on Franklin & Marshall College's campus one recent snowy December evening, the work of Associate Professor of German Jennifer Redmann and 22 students whose exhibits were tied to the First World War.

Part of F&M's yearlong World War I Centenary, the ephemeral exhibition in Steinman College Center's atrium on Dec. 10 included everything from artifacts to posters and computer-based displays that depicted the less thought about -- though no less important -- aspects of the war, which spanned 1914 through 1918.

The students enrolled in Redmann's "World War I: The War to End All Wars" class said the exhibits helped them achieve greater understanding of the conflict and its effect on millions.

"Each student researched and then chose a World War I object they wanted to exhibit based on their interests," Redmann said.

  • Like many wars, World War I necessitated invention. Junior Gavin Conway, a public health major, discusses his poster on blood transfusion and, more specifically, U.S. Army Medical Officer Oswald Hope Robertson, who in 1917 pioneered the idea of blood banks, using Type O from in-direct blood transfusions first done by Dr. Albert Hustin of Belgium and Dr. Luis Agote of Argentina. Image Credit: Melissa Hess
  • The "pop-up museum" in the atrium of the Steinman College Center featured 22 student exhibits by students taking the international studies course "World War I: The War to End All Wars." Image Credit: Melissa Hess
  • First-year Maya Hamilton delved into the College archives to produce her exhibit on World War I veteran and F&M alumnus James Hollinger '17, who kept detailed journals and letters of his experience overseas. Image Credit: Melissa Hess
  • Sophomore Jeffrey Kempler's exhibit featured an array of medals and pins awarded to soldiers of the Austria-Hungary military. Kempler purchased the medals on eBay and from antiquarian shops in Europe. Image Credit: Melissa Hess
  • In presenting his exhibit on the use of mustard gas, sophomore Dan Scheerer said his research uncovered unsettling images. "Some of the pictures I found were just terrifying." Image Credit: Melissa Hess
  • Associate Professor of German Jennifer Redmann listens to sophomore Theodore Kelly explain his exhibit of an American recruitment poster and his great uncle's photo, as well as his great uncle's letter and service records. Image Credit: Melissa Hess

Sophomore Justin Muller's exhibit focused on American laws regarding treason and sedition. He used letters from his great-grandfather, Joseph Muller, an immigrant from Austria who served stateside as a cook in the army. Just before the war's end, officials in the United States government ruled he was an enemy alien and dishonorably discharged him.

He would become a U.S. citizen in 1926, but he spent the rest of his life appealing the dishonorable discharge. Four months after his death in January 1962, he won his appeal. Justin, his great-grandson, had been unaware of this part of his family history until he mentioned his class assignment to his father, who produced the letters and told him the story.

Among the poster displays was one by senior Jahan Choudhry, a native of Pakistan, depicting propaganda posters used to recruit Indian soldiers, at the time British colonial subjects. Another poster, by first-year Vietnamese student Giang Le, detailed the history of a letter sent from revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh to American President Woodrow Wilson seeking support for Vietnam's independence from French colonial rule.   

For two hours the students explained their exhibits to curious members of the F&M community who wandered into the College Center. Then, just as quickly as the museum sprung up, it was gone.

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