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.

Armenian and Syrian Relief Fund

Collections Spotlight

Posted: May 4, 2015 - 4:09pm
In early 1915, the Turkish government enacted repressive measures against minority groups within its territory whose loyalty was questioned. These measures were primarily against the Armenians, whose Christian religion set them apart from the Muslim Turks. The majority of Armenians were Orthodox, which was the majority religion of Russia (an enemy of Turkey) and made them a potential internal threat to Turkish security and its war effort.

The first in a series of Turkish government actions taken against the Armenians occurred in late April 1915 when 1,000 prominent Armenians in the capital city of Istanbul were arrested and deported to eastern Turkey to be murdered. By the end of 1915, approximately 500,000 had been massacred and the majority of the remaining Armenians were deported to desert areas in the eastern part of Turkey where thousands starved to death, died of disease or became refugees.

Armenians were considered by contemporary Christians as the “oldest” Christian community in the world, being a direct link to the earliest days of Christianity. Christian missionaries from the United States comprised the majority of Americans living/working in the Ottoman Empire and they shared the same view.  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.

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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

Belgian Automatic Pistol

Recent Acquisition

Posted: July 1, 2014 - 10:30am
The pistol used by Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914 was a Model 1910 Belgian Automatic Pistol. A recent acquisition of the Museum is a same Model 1910 pistol, made at the same arsenal, Fabrique Nationale D’Armes de Guerre, Herstal, Belgium. It is marked with Belgian military acceptance marks.  Read More

German Soldier Medals

Recent Acquisition

Posted: June 4, 2014 - 10:00am
Karl Gottlob Männer was born on Nov. 2, 1879 in Adelberg, Germany. He enlisted at the age of 19 and served as Acting Officer, machine gun company, Württemberg King Karl Grenadier Regiment 123, 27th Division. This donation to the Museum from his military service includes numerous service medals.  Read More

Blue Star Mothers Painting

Recent Acquisition

Posted: April 27, 2014 - 4:33pm
A recent donation to the Museum is a painting done in 1969 by Daniel MacMorris in preparation for creating his mural in Memory Hall on the Blue Star Mothers. As patriotic gestures, families hung flags with blue stars in their windows during World War I to show that they had family members in the armed forces. These flags appeared in every city and town across the United States, expressing national unity and resolve.

During the war, Blue Star flags hung in the windows of homes, silently telling passersby that a family member from that house was in wartime service. In 1918, the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense claimed that “the basic idea of the service flag is that there shall be a blue star used to represent each person, man or woman, in the military and naval service of the United States or [serving with] the allies. For a person killed in action, a gold star shall be placed over the blue star, entirely covering it.”   Read More