Four Newspaper Illustrations from 1914

A century ago, in 1914, war erupted across Europe following the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a conflict that by its end claimed 37 million casualties worldwide. It was four years of fighting that closed the 19th century and set the 20th into motion. Because its worst horrors remained to be seen (Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum est" captures the disillusion well), there was still hope it'd come to a speedy end. Although this small sample is not representative of every published illustration, political cartoon, and comic, it still provides some insight into the nation's feelings of that decisive year. Here we see doubt over the merits of sustaining a standing army (this being 15 years after the Spanish-American War and the nation's first foray into imperialism). We see as well both doubt and optimism for war -- and finally hope for 1915.

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Three Poems by William Reed Dunroy

Growing up in southwestern Iowa, the poet William Reed Dunroy arrived in Omaha, NE, at the age of twenty. Shuffling between jobs, Dunroy soon enrolled in the University of Nebraska and then became a contributor to The Lincoln Courier. Though he spent only ten years in the state, it was the central focus of his three books of poetry. In fact, his Corn Tassels (1897) was dedicated "To the state I love, NEBRASKA, and to her people." ... From "The Rose in Her Hair": "There's a scarlet rose in my lady's hair/ And her gown in silken white,/ On her cheek there's a delicate rosy glow/ Like the birth of a ruddy light."

Minnesota on the Death of Darwin: “If one such man arises in a century, that century is fortunate.”

There's a certain charm about small-town newspapers. In the case of those early publications - long before radio, television, the Internet - this was where a community got its news, entertainment, and gossip. This was Facebook. As an archival historian, let me tell you: there's always something waiting to be discovered. So, after realizing that April 18 marked the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death, I thought I'd do a quick search to see how Minnesotans responded. But, first, I'd like to share something published three months earlier, on January 18, 1882. Now, for those unfamiliar with the evolution-creationism debate, the Nye-Ham debacle was their first exposure to the creationist movement. Far from being a contemporary phenomenon, though, that kind of nonsense proliferated before the ink on The Origin of Species was dry. Fortunately, then as now, there was always someone available to mock the church - before there was PZ Myers there was the small-town editor doing newspaper-vaudeville. In the New Ulm Weekly Review, for example, was published the text of a "sermon" by the fictional Reverence Plato Johnson.