National World War 1 Museum to Host Production of R.C. Sherriff’s JOURNEY’S END

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

For six evenings each week, and as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons from February 20 to March 2, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will host a production of the acclaimed World War I stage play Journey’s End.  Written by Englishmen R.C. Sheriff, based on his own experiences on the Western Front, the play is set within a front-line dugout in March 1918 as British soldiers await what would be the last great German offensive of “The War to End All Wars.”  First performed in 1928, Journey’s End won international praise and has since come to be regarded as a classic.

Born in Middlesex, England, in 1896, Sherriff left a job as an office clerk in 1914 and eventually became a captain in the 9th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment.  He served in France from 1915-18, was severely wounded at Passchendaele in 1917, and was awarded the Military Cross.  He later went on to become a successful screen writer known for films such as Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) and The Dam Busters (1955)

Journey’s End underwent a critically acclaimed revival in London in 2004.  The 2014 production at the National World War I Museum is a collaborative effort between the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the Kansas City Actors Theatre.

For more information on the production, visit the National World War I Museum’s website here.


World War 1 Centennial Commission Appointments Completed


The Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

The Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

President Obama’s three appointments to the World War 1 Centennial Commission on August 8, 2013 have completed the twelve-member body which will oversee planning for national commemorations of US participation in the First World War.

Appointed to the Commission on August 8 were MGEN  Alfred Valenzuela, US Army (Ret.), former Missouri Congressmen Ike Skelton, and Dr. Libby O’Connell, senior historian of the A&E television network.  The complete Centennial Commission also includes:

  • Rep. Ted Poe of Texas
  • COL Thomas Moe, USAF (Ret.), Director of Ohio Veterans Affairs
  • Dr. Mary L. Cohen, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the National World War I Museum
  • Mr. Robert J. Dalessandro, Chief of the US Army’s Center of Military History (CMH)
  • Mr. Richard Kolb, Director of Publications for the VFW
  • Mr. James S. Whitfield of Independence, MO, representing The American Legion
  • Mr. Jerry L. Hester of North Carolina
  • Mr. James B. Nutter of Kansas City, MO
  • Mr. Edwin L. Fountain of Washington, DC

The World War I Centennial Commission’s purpose, as established in Public Law 112-272, is to ensure suitable observances of the centennial of the First World War.  The commission’s activities will center on the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO, and its initial meeting, by law, will take place by September 8, 2013.

For more information on the World War I Centennial Commission, see the text of Public Law 112-272 here.

New Exhibition Explores Popular Music of WWI

1992.122.31_600DPIFor Americans at home during the Great War, singing was a means of actively expressing patriotism in private and public settings. The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will explore music of the World War I era in a new exhibition called “Harmonies of the Homefront.”

Located in Memory Hall, the exhibition will be open from February 9 – October 27, 2013, and is included with admission to the Museum and free for members.

The pages of sheet music, which are part of the Museum’s extensive collections, are brought to life in this multimedia exhibit. Visitors will view artistic sheet music covers and humorous lyrics, hear historical recordings and even have the chance to try out a few of the big “hits” of the era on a period piano.

Guest exhibition curator Dr. Kristin Griffeath is an Assistant Professor of Music at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Her recent research involves sheet music from World War I, and her thesis, “War Sirens: How the Sheet Music Industry Sold World War I,” earned the 2012-2013 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award from UMKC.  Griffeath explains what she hopes guests will take away from the exhibition:

My hope is that people coming to this exhibit will gain a sense of who these Americans were. The songs echo across the almost one hundred years that separate these Americans from our generation, telling us why they fought, demonstrating how they maintained a sense of humor and patriotism in a time of great sacrifice and challenge, and voicing their concerns about how the war had changed the men and women who would return home. I can think of no better way to connect the iPod generation to this American history than to literally let them plug into and listen to the songs of the war. 

“We are excited to partner with Dr. Griffeath and share this unique view of life during the First World War with our guests,” says Museum Board Chair Dr. Mary Cohen. “‘Harmonies of the Homefront’ will add a colorful dimension to the stories often only told through text, silent film and photographs.”

The History of World War I Music

Joining voices around a piano at home or singing along to a recording of world-famous opera singer Enrico Caruso’s rendition of “Over There” bolstered morale and helped people feel connected to the soldiers who had left them behind.  Sing-alongs were also used to energize Liberty Bond rallies and other public gatherings. Classical concerts were peppered with nationalistic tunes, and it became nearly impossible to attend a musical event without encountering war music of one kind or another.  Music bound the nation together in support of the war, critical to building and maintaining energy for the continued sacrifices the war would entail.

More than 35,000 copyrighted musical works document the conflict, lending credence to American composer Irving Berlin’s claim that “the history of America could be traced through its music.”  The history of World War I is told in the thousands of songs that accompanied the fighting.  The titles, lyrics and sheet music cover images highlight the American experience of the war from both civilian and combatant perspectives.

Some featured lyrics from the exhibition are:

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy

You’re the only g-g-g-girl that I adore

When the m-m-m-moon shines

Over the cowshed

I’ll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door


“Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.” 

Oh! How I hate to get up in the morning,

Oh! How I’d love to remain in bed;

For the hardest blow of all, is to hear the bugler call;

You’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up,

You’ve got to get up this morning!

Someday I’m going to murder the bugler,

Someday they’re going to find him dead;

I’ll amputate his reveille, and step upon it heavily,

And spend the rest of my life in bed.  


Keep the home fires burning,

While your hearts are yearning,

Though your lads are far away they dream of Home;

There’s a silver lining

Through the dark cloud shining,

Turn the dark cloud inside out

Till the boys come home. 


We’ll keep things going till the boys come home, Won’t we girls?

Bet your life, every sweetheart and wife,

Will do her bit for Yankee Doodle,

We’ll take care of all the Boodle, Won’t we girls?

You bet your life, Mother’s taking Father’s job, he was a steeple Jack,

She wears a pair of overalls, that button up the back,

And she’ll have a “Ripping” time some day when she climbs up a stack!

But we’ll keep things going till the boys come home. 


For more information on the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, visit the museum’s website here.

National World War I Museum Hosts Centennial Conference


The Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

The Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will bring together WW1 scholars, authors, and  museum professionals from around the World to participate in a planning conference for the centennial of the First World War.  “A Century In The Shadow Of the Great War – An International Centennial Planning Conference” will take place from March 22-24, 2013 at the Kansas City, MO, museum.

The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City was dedicated in 1921 to the memory of those Americans who died in “The War to End All Wars.”  In 2004, the museum at Liberty Memorial was officially designated by Congress as the United States’ official World War I Museum.

To learn more about this exciting conference, visit the conference web page here.