Exhibit remembers Iowans who died in WWI

Anne Marie Amacher
Joyce Haack, St. Ambrose University librarian, views the World War I Honor Roll exhibit in the university’s library in Davenport.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — A traveling exhibit of photographs of Iowa World War I veterans who lost their lives in the war is on display at St. Ambrose University library. Produced by the State Historical Museum of Iowa, the exhibit can be seen in the library’s main area and is open to the public through March 4 during regular library hours, said St. Ambrose University Librarian Joyce Haack. The exhibit will move to the West Point Public Library and be on display March 27 to April 4.

Haack said St. Ambrose hosted a state exhibit in 2016 on the history of the Iowa caucuses, which may have given the university an advantage in hosting this exhibit.

After World War I ended in 1918, the Iowa Department of History and Archives put out an initial call for photographs and names of Iowans who died in the war. The photos were housed away. The exhibit states that the department was “flooded with names and images of Iowa servicemen and women who were killed in action, went missing or died of disease, wounds or accidents.”


In 2017, the 100th anniversary of the United State’s entry into World War I, the State Historical Society sent out a new request to step up its efforts to document veterans and to shore up official records. “The names and faces on the display are the results of that research — and a testament to a generation of Iowans who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom,” the museum’s website says.

By the time the war ended in 1918, an estimated 4,088 Iowans — men and women — had died in the war. The list of Iowan casualties, according to the museum, includes Merle Hay of Glidden, who was among the first Americans to die during the war, and Wayman Minor of Centerville, who was among the last.

The first U.S. servicewoman to die during active duty in the war was Marion Crandall of Cedar Rapids.

The exhibit lists counties in alphabetical order with photos, names and military branch of each person who died during the war, Haack said. A list of veterans whose photos had not been submitted is provided at the end of the exhibit as well as reported casualties who survived.

Some statistics from the exhibit:
• 114,217 Iowans enlisted in WWI.
• 54,147 Iowans served overseas.
• 4,088 Iowan casualties are listed in the exhibit; 203 do not have photos. Among the casualties, 3,733 were in the Army, 233 were in the Navy, 67 in the Marines, 17 in the Army Nurse Corps/Red Cross/ YMCA, 33 served in the Canadian Army and five served in the British Army.

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