In 1917, the United States Congress approved a resolution declaring war on the German empire, and Americans suddenly became active participants in the Great War raging in Europe. The First World War was a watershed event in American and world history, and ZSR Special Collections & Archives commemorates the war’s 100th anniversary with an exhibit drawn from its large collection of WWI materials.

The fall exhibit, titled Testaments of War: World War I in Literature, Art, and Memoir, focuses especially on the effects of the war and its aftermath on the artistic, literary and print culture of the U.S. and Europe. Posters and propaganda produced during the war contrast with post-war illustrations, photographs, memoirs and fiction detailing the actual experience and lasting trauma of those who lived through the war.  

A highlight of this exhibit is a collection of materials from the papers of Laurence Stallings. Stallings enlisted in the Marines shortly after his 1916 graduation from Wake Forest College, and he was wounded in the Battle of Belleau Wood. He was one of the most influential and prolific chroniclers of the WWI soldier’s experience. In the mid-1920s, his Broadway play What Price Glory sparked controversy and rave reviews. He also wrote the screenplay for the early King Vidor film The Big Parade, an autobiographical novel titled Plumes and many other works based on his wartime experience. The Stallings papers, donated to ZSR Library by his children, are a valuable resource for historians and literary scholars. The collection includes wartime correspondence and extensive material on Stallings’s career as an author and journalist.

During this anniversary year, many Wake Forest classes are utilizing our WWI collections. Special Collections & Archives is also collaborating with the Piedmont Opera for a reception at ZSR Library in September and pop-up exhibits at performances of the WWI opera Silent Night in October.

View the exhibit Testaments of War: World War I in Literature, Art, and Memoir in the Special Collections & Archives Research Room (Room 625, Reynolds Wing) through January 31, 2018. To schedule a visit for a class or other group, or for more information on our WWI collections, please contact us at x6175 or archives@wfu.edu.