World War I Exhibit in MASC Shows Impact to WSU Students, Faculty, Staff

Washington State College cadet Logan Wheeler

It is a century old, its tan felt cover worn smooth by fingers that opened the scrapbook many times to see Logan Wheeler’s memories of Washington State College. More than 1,000 photos of campus life, people, events and buildings fill the book. There is also the unseen imprint of a spirited young man who caught unposed moments of friends eating watermelon at a picnic or shivering and freshly dusted after a snowball fight.

The memories are made more poignant by the knowledge that Wheeler, a WSC cadet, died on the fields of France on Sept. 28, 1918, not graduating from the school he lovingly captured on film. He was 23.

A new Washington State University Libraries’ exhibit —for the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I—tells the story of how Wheeler and others in the region we call the Palouse experienced the war. “Over Here: World War I and the Palouse” pulls the portraits, words and timelines of local people out of the collective history of wartime and gives each center stage.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 31 in WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections. An opening reception is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, in the MASC main lobby.

“This first global war had a major impact on the Palouse region,” said exhibit curator and university archivist Mark O’English. “Estimates from the time tell us that more than 1,100 Washington State College students, staff and faculty served in the war, and more than 1,400 other Whitman County residents joined the military.

“Put another way, one out of every 12 people in the county was in service for at least part of the Great War,” he said. “Between WSC and Whitman County, 77 people died while in the service.”

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