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Evenings Upstairs Series: Kentucky and the Great War - World War 1 on the Home Front

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Presented by author David Bettez

From five thousand children marching in a parade, singing, "Johnnie get your hoe. . . . Mary dig your row," to communities banding together to observe Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Kentuckians were loyal supporters of their country during the First World War. Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the nation, and the state increased its coal production by 50 percent during the war years. Overwhelmingly, the people of the Commonwealth set aside partisan interests and worked together to help the nation achieve victory in Europe.

Based on Bettez's book, Kentucky and the Great War: World War 1 on the Home Front, this presentation looks at the domestic side of World War I: how Kentuckians rallied to support the war effort. Bettez covers initial reactions to the war, especially as they affected the many Kentuckians of German heritage, and describes how the Kentucky Council of Defense and local county councils created and led Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns, and food and conservation efforts. Bettez discusses the support roles of women, children, African Americans, religions, and educational institutions. He also talks about some of the Kentucky men and women who served during the war.

Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front, was named a Thomas D. Clark Medallion recipient in 2016. The book is considered the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great War on Bluegrass society, politics, economy and culture, contextualizing the state’s involvement within the national experience.

Bettez received his B.A. in History from the University of Notre Dame, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Kentucky. He is the former director of the UK Office of International Affairs (now the UK International Center), is also the author of "Kentucky Marine: Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC," which won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for Biography.

Evenings Upstairs Series: Kentucky and the Great War - World War 1 on the Home Front

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