A century after World War I ended, a photo display honoring those who died in that conflict is coming to Iowa City.
The State Historical Museum of Iowa created the display, “The World War I Honor Roll,” which features the names and photos of Iowan casualties.
The photos are traveling the state after an exhibition in Des Moines, and they will be on display Wednesday through Jan. 27 at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.
“We’re sending the display out across the state so more people can join us in honoring and preserving the memory of these brave Iowans who lost their lives while serving our country,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said.
The State Historical Society of Iowa first began collecting the photos in 1920. Last year, they put out a fresh call for photographs.
“With the arrival of the 100th year anniversary of the war, we decided to strengthen our official records of that information,” said Jeff Morgan, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
They received 40 photos from that call — bringing the total number of individuals with photos in the collection to 3,885. An estimated 4,088 Iowans died during the war or as a result of wounds or infections suffered in the war.
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The photo collection is important not just to honor those who died but to complete the historical record. Official records of those who served in the war are not always easy to find — in 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center destroyed 80 percent of Army records from WWI.
In 2017 the State Historical Society began digitizing and researching the existing collection. An online database includes names, day and location of death, rank, hometowns and other details of Iowa’s casualties.
Iowan casualties included Merle Hay of Glidden, one of the first three American soldiers killed in the war, as well as Marion Crandell of Cedar Rapids, the first U.S. servicewoman to die while on active duty during the war.
Crandell, born in Cedar Rapids in 1872, was a French teacher in Davenport before joining the Y.M.C.A.’s United States Christian Commission and deploying to France to teach French to U.S. and other Allied soldiers. On March 27, 1918, a German artillery shell hit her apartment in Sainte-Menehould, a northeastern French town. She was 46 years old when she died of wounds from the explosion.
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