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.
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.