Collections Spotlight

Highlights and New Additions to the Collection

The National WWI Museum and Memorial holds the most diverse collection of Great War objects and documents in the world. Below, you can learn about some of the highlights and recent additions to this world-renowned collection. More information on additions to the Collection are available in the yearly accession records.

More than 97 percent of the items in the collection were acquired through donations. Learn how you can support the Museum with a donation.

SECRET - List of Coded Words

Collections Spotlight

Posted: March 19, 2018 - 12:28pm
Bacon. Cabin. Magic. What appears at first to be gibberish is actually code for automatic rifles, cars and horse-drawn combat carts.

The military has used codes and ciphers for years, but the use and complexity of codes skyrocketed during World War I. Whether sent by telegraph, signal lights, messenger dog, carrier pigeon or early radio, messages were often sent in code to avoid secrets falling into the wrong hands.

A recently processed collection of documents at the Museum and Memorial contains a list of over 130 secret code words used by the American Expeditionary Forces, in this case a simple substitution cipher where unrelated words took the place of key military terminology.   Read More

German (Prussian) Officer's Overcoat

In the Spotlight

Posted: June 13, 2017 - 3:55pm

Recently added to the Museum's collection, this German officer's overcoat (called a paletot) is a light gray overcoat made of fine wool that was worn by a Hauptmann (Captain) of the 21st Infantry Regiment. The 21st was originally the 4th Pomeranian Regiment. Pomerania was a province of Prussia.

In 1914 and 1915, the 21st Infantry was in the 35th Division on the Eastern Front. In 1915, the regiment transferred to the new 105th Division which was in Serbia, Galicia and Bulgaria until 1917 when the division moved to France where it fought through 1918.

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Loos Football

In the Spotlight

Posted: May 17, 2017 - 1:46pm
Temporarily on display in the Main Gallery, the Loos Football is on loan from the collections of the London Irish Rifles Association. The football (soccer ball) holds a special place in World War I history. The Battle of Loos was the largest British attack of 1915, during which the 1st Battalion of the London Irish Rifles (LIR), a volunteer rifle regiment of the British Army, distinguished themselves. Their successful attack and subsequent defense of their position earned the LIR their second battle honor — “Loos, 1915.”

While storming across no man’s land to capture the enemy trenches, Sgt. Frank Edwards, the captain of the Rifles’ football team, kicked a football along in front of the troops. It is this football which currently resides at the Museum.  Read More

Wilson's War Proclamation

On view in the exhibition Revolutions! 1917

Posted: April 10, 2017 - 2:00pm

Temporarily on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., Woodrow Wilson signed Presidential Proclamation 1364 concerning the Declaration of War against Germany on April 6, 1917.

The document joins many rarely-seen objects in the exhibition Revolutions! 1917, which focuses on the revolutions—political and cultural— that left their mark on 1917 and the war still raging worldwide. Wilson's war proclamation has not been on exhibit to the public in more than 50 years and will be on view through Sept. 21, 2017.

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Ottoman Empire Souvenir Snake

Recent Acquisition

Posted: February 2, 2016 - 9:50am
Thissouvenir beaded “snake,” from the service of Cyril H. Gaudreau (also spelled Goodrow), U.S. Naval Reserve, Seaman 2nd Class; U.S. S.C. #128 (Sub Chaser) and U.S. Naval Base #25, Corfu, Greece, came from the Ottoman Empire. With black beads spelling out: TURKISH PRISONERS 1918 and under the chin, the letter A, the piece was made by the beaded crochet method or weaving on small looms.

Crochet beaded snakes were the most popular of the beaded souvenirs created in the prisoner of war camps. Snakes were a symbol of good luck in parts of Southeast Europe, so the prisoner of war snakes could have had a symbolic importance for their makers.  Read More

BULGARIA PRISONER OF WAR CAMP SCRAPBOOK

Recent Acquisition

Posted: November 18, 2015 - 11:38am
Bulgariaentered World War I on the side of the Central Powers on Oct. 12, 1915, having attacked Serbia, one of the Allied nations, on Oct. 5 in order to acquire part of its territory. In response, Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria on Oct. 15 and was joined by France and Italy during the next two days. Working with a Greek government divided in its support between the Allied and Central Powers, the British and French sent an expeditionary force of 150,000, which landed at Salonica, to support Serbia.

The Museum recently acquired a scrapbook that helps to tell the story of the Bulgarian prisoner of war camp in Central Bulgaria at Philippopolis [Plovdiv in Bulgarian] that held approximately 5,000 Allied prisoners. The camp was comprised of eight barracks situated around a square, one inhabited by French prisoners, two by British, and five by Serbians. The prisoners worked as laborers in canal and road construction in the area.

The scrapbook was previously in the possession of a French officer named Alexandre Orlowski (who used the aristocratic title “count”) who served as a second lieutenant in the 8th Regiment of the Chasseurs d’Afrique on the Salonica Front. He was captured by the Bulgarians in mid-July 1916 and was eventually transferred to Philippopolis in July 1918.  Read More

Vestal Virgin's Costume

Recent Acquisition

Posted: September 14, 2015 - 9:50am
Recently added to the collection of the National World War I Museum and Memorial is a piece of the Memorial's own history. The morning dawned on Nov. 1, 1921 with great expectations in the air. The site for the future Liberty Memorial was to be dedicated. Much pomp and circumstance was planned and one activity, while it might seem very quaint and innocent in present day, was very moving and as described was to help “Kansas City keep faith with the fallen.”

The Kansas City Journal reported on the plans the day before: “With the lighting of the Flame of Inspiration by President R.A. Long of the Liberty Memorial Association, ten girls, robed in white and wearing Liberty caps, and bearing wreaths representing equality, justice, wisdom, freedom, truth, patriotism, sacrifice, victory, liberty and peace, will proceed from the bridge connecting the altar with the exedra [seating platform for dignitaries] and deposit the wreaths about the altar.

Simultaneous with the depositing of the [laurel] wreaths at the base of the altar, a girl similarly attired will ascend to the tribune and release a white dove of peace.” A change in their headwear occurred on Nov. 1 and the Liberty caps were not worn.  Read More

Carruthers Field Air Service Memento

Recent Acquisition

Posted: August 12, 2015 - 10:30am
Carruthers Field was located at Benbrook, Texas, about 10 miles southwest of Ft. Worth. Originally named Taliaferro Field No. 3, it was renamed in honor of Flying Cadet W. K. Carruthers, who was killed in an aviation accident June 18, 1917. Construction on the air field started on Sept. 18, 1917 and flight training began in November.

Flight instruction included a Primary Flying School 8-week course that accommodated up to 300 students and a Pursuit School.

This unusual object measuring 25.5 inches by 30 inches is airplane fabric, covered with drawings of planes, patriotic symbols including eagles in flight and two female attractions.  Read More

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