By Angie Georgeff
Early in the morning of April 2, 1917, my father was born into a world that had been at war for nearly three years. The United States had assiduously avoided involvement in the conflict, but that was about to change. President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress later that day and asked for a declaration of war against Germany. Congress officially granted Wilson’s request on April 6. We are fast approaching the centennial of our entry into what was then known as the Great War.
Last week the Tennessee State Library and Archives launched an initiative to collect digital records that reflect how the First World War affected Tennesseans. They plan to travel throughout the state, scanning and photographing letters, diaries, photographs, maps, sketches, military records, uniforms, weapons and other artifacts relating to the war. In addition to digitally recording the items, archivists will offer their owners basic advice on how to preserve these treasures. The kickoff event will take place in Nashville on the weekend of April 16 and 17.
Obviously, my father did not go to war during World War I, nor did his father, who had previously served during the Philippine Insurrection. My maternal grandfather was too young for World War I, but one of your ancestors may have been a doughboy. And remember, the women and children who planted victory gardens, canned fruits and vegetables and learned to bake tasty treats without wheat flour, sugar, butter or lard took part in the war effort, too.
If you have any documents, photographs or artifacts that relate to their experiences during the Great War, consider having the story they tell preserved for posterity. The dates of digital preservation events in East Tennessee have not yet been announced, but they should be widely publicized, and you can always ask at the library.
If you don’t know anything about your World War I era forebears, come to our next genealogy workshop on Thursday, April 21. Bring your family history questions and we will offer you suggestions on how to overcome that brick wall that has been holding you back. The program will begin at 6 p.m. and last for about 90 minutes.
Local author Teresa Masters will be at the library from 1 to 2 p.m., on Saturday, April 16, to sell and sign her new book “Good Grief (Yes It Does Exist).” Since she has relied on her Christian faith to deal with the loss of both of her children, she finds herself in a position to help others cope with grief. Her book has recently been published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. Come out to meet and greet Teresa and congratulate her on this landmark achievement!