"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Featured Promotion

Immerse yourself in Virginia's history by visiting one of our exhibitions.

 

The Story of Virginia

The Commonwealth and the Great War

Photograph of Lt. Sylvanus Ingram and an early biplane, about 1918–1920 (VHS 2006.177.1_v1)

In 1917, Virginia-born President Woodrow Wilson brought the nation into war against the German, Austrian, and Ottoman empires.

The Commonwealth and the Great War tells the stories of individual Virginians who carried the state’s proud military tradition to the battlefront during World War I. 100,000 of them served; 3,700 died. Many more were injured. Thirty-nine percent of the draftees in 1918 were African Americans. Hundreds of Virginia nurses and doctors followed soldiers to Europe. Military facilities established in Virginia became essential centers for the war effort. Thousands labored at home to produce vital war supplies, and families tended “Victory Gardens” and rationed food to “make the world safe for democracy.”

Exhibition Information

From
Sat Feb 17 2018, 10:00amMon Dec 31 2018, 5:00pm
Open
10:00 am – 5:00 pm, daily
Photograph of Andrew Talkov

Andrew Talkov, Vice President for Exhibitions

To celebrate the centennial of World War I, we are pleased to present The Commonwealth and the Great War to you. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me at atalkov@VirginiaHistory.org. I hope you enjoy this exhibition as much as I do!

Highlighted objects from The Commonwealth and the Great War

Victory Loan Tanks at the Virginia State Capitol, 1919 (VHS 2001.230.1914) Enter Fullscreen More information
Victory Loan Tanks at the Virginia State Capitol, 1919, by Walter Washington Foster
To awaken interest in the Victory Loan drive, four tanks rolled down Main Street in Richmond on April 22, 1919, firing deafening blanks. The war was over, but money was still needed to retire the war debt and to bring American troops home. Richmond was expected to raise $15 million. (VHS accession number: 2001.230.1914, Gift of W. Foster Orpin)
Photograph of nurses on the Virginia Homefront, about 1917 (VHS 2003.309.5_v1) Enter Fullscreen More information
Nurses on the Virginia Homefront, about 1917
Although officially barred from military combat roles until very recently, American women participated in every war in a variety of ways, including caring for wounded soldiers. During World War I, more than 23,500 female nurses served in the U.S. military both at home and overseas. (VHS accession number: 2001.230.331, Gift of Mrs. Robert Miller Jeffress)
Photograph of VMI Cadet George Catlett Marshall, 1901, by Michael Miley (VHS 1991.161.1207) Enter Fullscreen More information
VMI Cadet George Catlett Marshall, 1901, by Michael Miley
Chief of Staff to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II and renowned for his “Marshall Plan” of economic recovery for postwar Europe, Marshall planned important operations during World War I. A 1901 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he directed the movement—without German knowledge—of 15 divisions of the army after the battle of Saint-Mihiel, thus initiating the decisive Meuse-Argonne offensive of 1918. (VHS accession number: 1999.161.1207, Purchased with funds provided by the Rockefeller Foundation)
Photograph of Homecoming Parade, 1919, by Walter Washington Foster (VHS 2001.230.1917.B_v1) Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of Homecoming Parade, 1919, by Walter Washington Foster
The homecoming in 1919 of the Virginians who served in the 29th and 80th divisions was celebrated with two parades. Edith Chalkley coordinated efforts to erecton Richmond’s Broad Street three plaster and wooden victory arches akin to the massive Arc de Triomphe that troops had marched through in Paris. (VHS accession number: 1997.12)
Photograph of Lt. Sylvanus Ingram and an early biplane, about 1918–1920 (VHS 2006.177.1_v1) Enter Fullscreen More information
Lt. Sylvanus Ingram and an early biplane, about 1918–1920
The only man identified in the group of twelve who stand proudly in front of a spectacular Curtiss “Jenny” biplane is Lt. Sylvanus Ingram, the fifth figure from the left. World War I was the first war in which airplanes were used in combat. Ingram served as a pilot in France. A student at VMI, he resigned in October 1917 to enlist in the war. (VHS accession number: 2006.177.1, Gift of Beverley Patton Browne)
Victory Loan Tanks at the Virginia State Capitol, 1919 (VHS 2001.230.1914)
Victory Loan Tanks at the Virginia State C
Photograph of nurses on the Virginia Homefront, about 1917 (VHS 2003.309.5_v1)
Nurses on the Virginia Homefront, about 19
Photograph of VMI Cadet George Catlett Marshall, 1901, by Michael Miley (VHS 1991.161.1207)
VMI Cadet George Catlett Marshall, 1901, b
Photograph of Homecoming Parade, 1919, by Walter Washington Foster (VHS 2001.230.1917.B_v1)
Photograph of Homecoming Parade, 1919, by
Photograph of Lt. Sylvanus Ingram and an early biplane, about 1918–1920 (VHS 2006.177.1_v1)
Lt.

Leading Presenter

 

 

Presenting Sponsors

 

 

 

The Genan Foundation

Supporting Sponsors

 

 

 

Shelton H. Short, Jr. Trust in memory of Shelton and Jean Short

Additional Support Provided By

 
  James C. Wheat III
 
  Kiwi and Landon Hilliard

 

You might also be interested in