WILMINGTON — The Ohio Local History Alliance will present the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center at Wilmington College with its 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award Saturday, Oct. 3 for last fall’s gallery exhibit, The Pity of War: Words and Images of World War I.
QHC curator Ruth Brindle will receive the commendation at the OLHA Annual Meeting in Columbus. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the so-called “War to End All Wars.”
The gallery exhibit, which ran from late summer through fall 2014, featured artifacts and a chronology of the war, and stories of those that lived through those events as soldiers, civilians and conscientious objectors.
Also, special programming highlighted Quaker perspectives on the war — both local and national, a historical look at what history professor Vinton Prince called the “most important event of the 20th century,” WWI era-inspired poetry and a choral performance by Cantabile Men’s Ensemble highlighting the Christmas truce of 1914 when trench warfare ceased and the warring German and British troops sang Christmas carols, played soccer and exchanged gifts of cigarettes and plum pudding.
Persons from the greater community contributed family photographs and other artifacts to the exhibit.
The genesis of The Pity of War exhibit stemmed from a conversation between Brindle and Charlotte Fairlie, associate professor of English, the latter of whom shared an essay written by a student, Tyler Baker, in her Modern Literature of War and Peace course.
It combined recognition of the approaching centennial of the war within the context of his reaction to photographs taken by his great-grandfather during his time at the front. It also included unique stories of Quaker men that volunteered as relief workers in war-torn Europe.
Judges found a compelling component of the exhibit was intensive student involvement as a hands-on learning opportunity. Students in Brindle’s Introduction to Public History Practice course, Victoria Canby, Charles Hiitzinger, Christopher Lutz, Hannah Murphy, Jalyn Thomas and David Welch, researched, developed and designed the exhibit under Brindle’s guidance. Dylan Hammond helped install it.
Fairlie lauded both the “interdisciplinary approach” and “College-community synergy” as especially impressive aspects of the series of the commemorative WWI-related events.
“The splendid result of all this cooperation was that Wilmington College and Clinton County joined in the world-wide commemoration of World War I in a way that was accessible and educational while expressing the core Quaker values of our community,” she said.
“World War I is not etched in the collective memory of Americans as clearly as World War II or Vietnam, but the Quaker Heritage Center successfully raised awareness, increased understanding and, in so doing, honored in the best way possible the many who died so long ago.”