World War I: A Dickinson display in stereo and song
The history of World War I covers more than European battles, trenches and mustard gas.
Families in America were impacted in other ways. Besides sending their sons to war, families raised Victory Gardens, purchased war bonds and played patriot songs on the radio.
Dickinson's Joachim Regional Museum has opened an exhibit titled "Over Here and Over There: World War I in Song and Stereo."
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a set of 300 stereo pictures that offer an overview of the battles and end with the signing of the Armistice.
Stereo viewing cards are a matched pair of images taken from the same plane about three inches apart -- the distance between people's eyes, Dickinson Museum Center Coordinator Dan Ingram said.
The collection was donated by Robert and Joelle Fruh of Dickinson.
"As far as I know, they belonged to my grandparents and I don't remember whose side of the family," he said. "I used to look at them as a kid. I thought the museum would be a perfect place for them."
Fruh said the 3D pictures were viewed through stereoscopes. He always wondered what the final card depicted, since it was missing. Ingram found the card on the Internet -- the signing of the Armistice.
"I specifically remember pictures of the tanks that were first developed by the British," Fruh said. "The workers were told they were portable water tanks for the battle field, hence they got the name tank."
Fruh described the pictures as an overview of the war to complement the local items on exhibit.
"Dan is very interactive-oriented," he said. "It's not just information that you sit and read. He likes to get the viewer involved. I can hardly wait to see the finished product."
When Ingman accepted the donation of images, he thought it would be interesting to convert them into a video presentation.
The set of photographs was produced by the Keystone View Co. of Meadville, Pa.
"I thought they would be pretty good images to convert to a red-blue process," Ingman said. "We scanned them into Photoshop and digitally remastered them."
Ingman and assistant coordinator Emily Bradbury imbedded the slides with captions and added music. They are viewed on a big-screen television with 3D glasses.
"We spent a good amount of time on that and then had the horrible problem of losing our files on the drive and we had to start over again," he said.
With that project done, Ingman turned to the pop culture during the war period. America entered the war in 1917, but it had been under way since 1914.
"We learned that from 1914 to about 1920, more than 9,000 patriotic songs were copywrited," he said.
Bradbury worked on the music, obtaining sheet music from the Internet and scanning it into the computer. Using Symphonesia software, a visitor may sit at the keyboard and play the music, either by reading the notes, following lines on the computer or following lights on the keyboard.
"Actually, you don't have to be very computer savvy," Ingman said. "We had a 4-year-old at the gallery, yesterday, who sat down to the keyboard and played 'Over There.'"
Tunes include "Bring Back a Belgium Baby, "Little Garden in our Backyard" and "Keep the Home Fires Burning."
Another showcase will feature piano rolls and cylinder records, with the public pushing a button to hear them play.
Ingman took the pop culture a step further. He obtained digital World War I posters from the Library of Congress and the State Historical Society.
"This was the first modern experiment with propaganda and advertising," he said.
Messages included, "Join the Navy and see the world," or "Why waste time looking for a job when the Navy will employ you at once."
A famous poster "I want You" of Uncle Sam is available for everyone to color and take home.
When the display is completed, Ingman and Bradbury will turn their attention to planting a Victory Garden near the pioneer house on the museum property.
Children who participate the museum's summer youth program will learn about planting and caring for the garden, as well as the historical aspects of it, he said.
Visitors will see displays of artifacts and uniforms donated by area citizens. One uniform belonged to Corp. Olaf Thorpe, who served with the 318th Engineers in France.
"Really, the story we're looking at here is the shared sacrifice that everybody made during the first World War when the men fought, and the women were part of the Red Cross, saving food or growing their own vegetables or buying war bonds," Ingman said. "Everybody had to serve or were doing important work here such as farming."
The story of World War I is too complicated to depict on a few panels, so Ingman chose to reflect on the way people looked at war.
"It's an interactive experience --you will spend more time here and leave with art you've created yourself," he said. "It involves the children too -- They have access to the Internet and with the little bit they learn here, they can then surf the Web."