By Jon Taylor, March 5, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO – Beginning March 1 and running through May 7, Warrensburg residents and University of Central Missouri students will have the opportunity to explore Missouri’s vital role in World War I in a traveling exhibit. Endorsed by the Missouri Bicentennial, the exhibit will feature stories, images, and artifacts from museums, libraries, archives and private collections across the state. The Warrensburg viewing of Missouri in the Great War exhibit is sponsored by the UCM History Program, the James C. Kirkpatrick Library and UCM Military and Veteran Services.
The Missouri Humanities Council and the Springfield-Greene County Library District developed the exhibit with funding provided by the Missouri Humanities Council, Friends of Springfield-Greene County Library District, and the RDW Family and Community Fund.
The exhibit will be on display at the Kirkpatrick Library, located at 601 South Missouri, Warrensburg. Due to COVID-19, all campus guests, as well as UCM students who visit the library to view the exhibit, must wear masks/face coverings and practice social distancing.
To tell these stories, the Springfield-Greene County Library District and the Missouri Humanities Council developed the traveling exhibit. The exhibit explores the many facets of World War I history through the perspective of Missouri and Missourians.
Guests of the exhibits will learn facts about Missouri during the first world war such as the Missourians who contributed to the war effort even before the United States joined the hostilities over 100 years ago in April 1917, Missouri industries supplied mules, munitions and other goods to Allied armies and more than 156,000 Missourians served in the war, including men like future president Harry S. Truman, Walt Disney and generals John J. Pershing and Enoch Crowder.
Guests of the exhibit can even expect to learn about the contributions of Missouri women and African Americans to the war effort. Discover the vital role Missouri horses and mules played in the war despite the military adopting new technologies such as motorized vehicles.
Jon Taylor, professor of history at UCM, noted that many Missourians contributed to the Great War and that many of those contributions came from Warrensburg and the surrounding area. The university has had a number of veterans who have comprised an important part of the student body since it was founded in 1871. Famed soldier John Barkley attended the institution prior to leaving to serve in World War I and he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in battle. Merchants from the city of Warrensburg participated in the war effort by providing mules, which were shipped from the Jones Brothers Mule Barn downtown. Other local communities like Lexington had graduates from the Wentworth Military Academy serve in the war and George Creel, who President Woodrow Wilson appointed to serve as chairman of the Office of War Information, spent some time in Odessa.