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.

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


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

First Usage of Poison Gas

Collection Spotlight

Posted: March 24, 2015 - 10:04pm

On April 22, 1915 at 5 p.m. a wave of asphyxiating gas released from cylinders embedded in the ground by German specialist troops smothered the Allied line on the northern end of the Ypres salient, causing panic and a struggle to survive a new form of weapon. The attack forced two colonial French divisions north of Ypres from their positions, creating a 5-mile gap in the Allied line defending the city. This was the first effective use of poison gas on the Western Front and the debut of Germany’s newest weapon in its chemical arsenal, chlorine gas, which irritated the lung tissue causing a choking effect that could cause death.

  Read More

Australian Infantry Uniform and Equipment

Recent Acquisition

Posted: March 5, 2015 - 1:30pm
When the Australian Imperial Force was formed soon after the beginning of World War I in August 1914, a mobilization not only of men and women to serve on the war front and the home front had to occur, but also that of uniform, equipment and arms manufacturers. When the first Australian soldiers reached Egypt in late 1914, they were outfitted much like a recent acquisition to the Museum illustrates.

The Australian service dress jacket was made of Australian wool and its loose fit, in contrast to the British service, gave the wearer more allowance for movement. The four large pockets were very useful. A unique feature designed for comfort was the pleated back, which provided a double thickness of cloth down the back that the pack rubbed against. Breeches were corduroy worn with wool wrap puttees. The khaki felt slouch hat or early service cap is probably the most distinctive part of the uniform. The “Rising Sun” insignia on the collar and the fold of the slouch hat was distinctive to the Australians.  Read More

Under Two Flags at War

Recent Acquisition

Posted: November 10, 2014 - 3:30pm
It is always exciting when the Museum receives a donation with an incredible story. While the objects in the donation might seem familiar, it is the history which accompanies this recent acquisition that makes it compelling.

According to primary records, an article in the Waterbury, Conn., Sunday Republican magazine on March 29, 1970, notes that Christian Celius Nicolaisen was born of Danish parents in German occupied territory in Skoolburg (Skodberg), Slesvig. He went to German schools and was under compulsory German military service when he came of age.  Read More

Wills's Cigarettes Cards

Recent Acquisition

Posted: September 14, 2014 - 11:21am
A new donation to the Museum’s archives collection brings to life the fighting spirit of the armed forces and people of the British Empire. The Museum acquired 19 color illustrated cardboard cigarette cards originally from packages of the Wills’s Cigarettes brand. The cards depict various branches of the British armed forces, such as the Royal Artillery, Royal Marines and the Royal Flying Corps and other patriotic, war-related subjects issued by the Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland. The 19 cards in the donation were part of a series of 24 issued in March and April 1917.  
Besides depicting those fighting on land or at sea, the cards include the support services, Transport and Engineers and a support organization, the Red Cross as well as the civilian munitions workers, men and women who provided the war material for the fighting. As a call to arms for men and women throughout the Empire, there is a tribute to India, Canada, South Africa and servicemen from Australia and New Zealand. The role of quickly developing and new military technologies is acknowledged with depictions of warplanes, submarines and tanks.  Read More