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U of M collection highlights 100th anniversary of WWI

The University of Minnesota Libraries hold one of the largest collections of World War I materials in the United States.

MINNEAPOLIS -- This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But you don't have to travel far to get a history lesson on that time period.

The University of Minnesota Libraries hold one of the largest collections of World War I materials in the United States.

At the University's Elmer L. Andersen Library in Minneapolis, curators and archivists showcased to the media a number of World War I items from the UMN Libraries' Department of Archives and Special Collections. They have more than 30,000 posters, pamphlets and photos from the World War I era.

"We're coming up on the centennial of the end of the war... and we thought it was an important way to commemorate that event... to showcase these materials, to help tell that story," said Tim Johnson, a curator of Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Minnesota Libraries.

A picture from Base Hospital 26.

Erik Moore, head of the University of Minnesota Archives, showed pictures from Base Hospital 26.

"Many people don't know that the university participated in the war effort by providing a base hospital which brought physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, and others to France during the war to provide surgical services and other medical needed services near the battle front," Moore said.

Moore also showed documents from September 1917 when the Board of Regents fired Professor William Schaper after a watchdog group called him a "rabid German." The university later apologized to him and offered him his position back.

A letter from the Board of Regents to Professor William Schaper.

Although Schaper declined, Moore said, "That apology essentially establishes the, becomes the first policy around academic freedom and is the basis for tenure policy at the university going forward."

According to Ryan Bean, an archivist with the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, nearly 26,000 people around the world ending up joining the YMCA's war effort—including about 500 Minnesotans.

About two weeks ago, Kautz Family YMCA Archives launched a crowdsourcing project to decode punch cards from the war.

"Within just two weeks we've had over 1,000 individuals make 29,000 classifications of these cards," Bean said.

You can learn more about the project and how you can help, here.

To access any of these World War I materials, contact the unit staff for more information or visit Andersen Library.

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