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World War I Begins:
July 28, 1914

This July 28 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914.

WWI PosterA month before the war began, on June 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie had been assassinated during a trip to Bosnia. Initial outrage was strong, as were fears that this would be the instigating event for the European war that had been looming for years. But as the days and weeks passed without Austria-Hungary retaliating against Serbia (whom they believed to be behind the assassination plot), some began to breathe a sigh of relief.

But then, on July 23, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia with various demands regarding Serbia’s response to the assassination and the country’s future relationship with Austria-Hungary. Serbia accepted many of the demands but refused to allow Austria-Hungary to be involved in its judicial process for Serbians connected to the assassination. Thus rejected, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia on July 28.

Russia (a champion of Serbia and its Slavic population) began mobilization of its troops, which prompted Germany (an ally of Austria-Hungary) to declare war on Russia. In quick succession, the system of alliances (and territorial ambitions) within Europe led Germany to also declare war on France and Britain, Britain and France to declare war on Germany, and Russia to declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Within a week, five major countries in Europe were embroiled in a war they believed would be over in a matter of months. Many other nations would eventually join the conflict—including the isolationist United States, though not officially until 1917. The bloody war would last more than four years and result in upwards of 37 million dead, missing, or wounded soldiers.

Explore Fold3′s World War I collection to discover more about this conflict and the men who fought in it.

25 Comments

  1. I have a few pictures and letters my grandfather wrote during the civil war. I believe he served with horses in France & came home on the ship Nebraska. Is there 1 main place to send these type items for keeping. No one else in the family wants them and I’m old and cleaning house! How to I do research to see how/where/when he served?

    • Ask Nebraska state archives if they want them. If not ask others even local archives. In meantime scam them in png format.

    • With things like photos and letters that can be scanned, the best approach is to post them in multiple places. The problem with presenting them to ANY State Archive or historical society is that in most cases they will wind up “hidden on some shelf somewhere”, with no one even aware that they exist. Scan them and post them as a photo album on Facebook, offer scans to any local or regional libraries, check with historical societies, authors of books on that particular war (Amazon has Author pages that usually have the author’s email contact information.) “The more the merrier.”

      Different people search different sources at different times. The best way to make the information findable is to make it available from multiple sources.

      Also, call or visit your local library and talk to a reference librarian. A Masters in Library Sciences is really a degree on HOW TO RESEARCH. They know where to look to find out who would be interested. There is a national library lending NETWORK and they likely will be willing to scan the materials and make digital copies available over that network.

    • Please, please you or anyone else who has important history as you do, look for a local historical or genealogical society to donat them too please.

    • If it were me, I’d donate them to the United States library of congress to share with the world or the New Yor state’s main public library on 42nd st and 5th ave so the wprld will see them too.

  2. I’m sorry. I meant WW 1…! NOT the Civil War…

    • I think the Army Heritage and Education Center at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, might be interested in having them.
      I would ask them. That is a central repository for that kind of thing.

  3. NEGHS 101 Newberry St. Boston, MA will take any artifacts for their displays and categorize them in their library. I plan on sending them besides my genealogy a pin and photo of a Civil War ancestor.

  4. My Father and my two uncles served in WWI. We have the letters from my Uncles and my Grandfather’s to them in France. You can find my Uncle Thornton Thayer’s write up of his and my Father’s unit in the book on the “305th Field Artillery” by Charles Wadsworth Camp. I found photos of the returning unit marching up Fifth Avenue at the NYC Municipal Archives. Others might want to look there. The father’s of two of my college classmates were in the 305th, as was the father of one of my NJ political friends when I was active in NY. Amazing what you can find by looking at the names in individual units.

  5. The Daughters of the American revolution would be a good organization to donate your artifacts to. They have a wonderful library in Washington DC dedicated to preserving the past. There should be a DAR chapter near you or you may contact me and I will help you locate one.

    • Thanks for your suggestion. I am a DAR member. However, my family has lived in the same house and on the farm since 1732 in CT. We are like our own museum. I offered the local DAR a fundraising tour and over 300 people came through the first floor. All the pictures, artifacts, etc., are now labeled separately and I put out items of special interest such as the report on my Grandmother holding that chapters first meeting in the house! Long lost relatives turn up regularly, so need the information here to help them.

  6. http://www.youtube.com/user/NationalWWIMuseum

    Send any photos to the Kansas Liberty Museum they are the one museum dedicated to WWI

    See video in their FB page above link.

  7. HI Tony, I can help you research your ancestor service. Please contact me at luca_rsna@yahoo.it

  8. My Sliga Family emigrated to the US from German controlled “Poland” in 1892. Two of my great uncles served in WWI. The eldest Sliga was a “Pvt”, saw action in France and was mustard gassed. He also became a naturalized citizen before sailing for France because technically he was still a citizen of the Kaiser’s Germany! His younger brother had “skate” duty at Camp Zachary Taylor near Louisville, KY. He never left the states and attained the rank of Sgt 1st Class. My Grandfather registered for the draft age age 18 in 1917 but was unfit for military duty due to a hearing problem.

  9. My Father was a Freshman at Univ. of Kentucky (1917-18) (Only boy from Logan County to enter UK that year). His ROTC Army unit (I think it may have had another name besides ROTC back then?) was moved into barrack housing in 1918 and no one considered this might be a major cause of the Flu Epidemic of 1918. Many boys died of this flu epidemic. Dad was a rare survivor and his parents were told to take him immediately to Florida or Arizona to escape that brutal winter. To Florida they came to Winter, and when his 1923 UK graduation came he made plans to head back to Florida. Our branch of family has now lived in Sunshine State for near 90 years,

    • Fascinating to read that. I’m a Louisville native who lived in Miami as a child. Then Louisville again. Now in Naples FL. My father was an underage Korean vet (lied about his age) years before he met my mother.

  10. My father was in WW1 and WW2. When WW1 ended he was in France. He had a friend that was with him when the war ended that had married a french girl after the war. When I was a child the man came to visit our home in Carlsbad, California He had two sons with him. The boys drank wine as they said the milk in France at that time was not good. If the boys get this I would like to talk to them.. They should remember coming to this country. Please contact me.

  11. I have pictures of my dad, Dr Martin c linnemann who was drafted as a LT in the veterinary corps. In 1917. He was a veterinarian stationed at ft olgalthorp, ga and later at ft Jackson , fl. The pictures are of he and his fellow officers and of a coral of magnificent horses. Who would be in tested in them and where could I get info on dad and the vet corp. Dads records where destroyed in a fire in St Louis in the ’70s where military records depository is. Thank you

  12. Who does not understand the past can not understand the future.History repeats itself!

  13. My father, Edward M. Benishek tried to enlist for service in WWI. He was
    rejected for “flat feet”. Later they were not so fussy and he was drafted and
    served with a machine gun unit. He was on his way to the front in France
    when the war ended in November 1918. His brother Anton, stayed overseas
    for awhile after the war ended as part of the army of occupation and delivered
    mail to the soldiers on a motorcycle.

    Re: postcards from various places that you find in cleaning out a house.
    I have sent some of them back to the city that is pictured on the card
    c/o the Historical Society for that town and have rec’d a thank you back
    from a few.

  14. MY DAD WAS IN WW 1. HE JOINED AT THE AGE OF 27 OR 29. HE WAS A MUSICIAN FIRST CLASS AND ENTERTAINED THE TROOPS IN THE STATES AND IN FRANCE .I HAVE 2 LONG PICTURES , ONE OF THE CAMP HE WAS IN AND ONE OF THE ORCHESTRA IN FRANCE . THEY ARE ROLLED UP AND ARE CRACKING A LITTLE. I ALSO HAVE THE MEDAL THAT HE WAS AWARDED FROM THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT. HE NEVER TAKED ABOUT THE WAR AND I NEVER ASKED HIM. I DO HAVE A PISTOL THAT WAS BROUGHT BACK BY ANOTHER OLD TIMER I NEW AND MY UNCLE WAS SHOT IN THE SHOULDER AND ANOTHER OLD TIMER I MET WAS GASSED AND HIS EYES TEARED ALL THE TIME BUT HE LIVED INTO HIS NINETY’S.

  15. I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT I HAVE 2 PICTURES OF THE MEN FROM LORAIN, OHIO, WHERE MY DAD AND UNCLE LIVED. THEY ALSO ARE LONG AND ARE DATED AND HAVE WRITTEN ON THEM , LORAINS THIRD GIFT AND LORAINS EIGHT GIFT TO HER COUNTRY.

  16. ONE MORE THING I HAVE 2 BIG VOLUMES OF PICTURES OF WW 1 THAT MY UNCLE ,THAT LIVED IN CHICAGO, GAVE TO ME. HE WAS ALSO A VET AND A SWEDE THAT MARRIED MY AUNT, MY MOTHERS’ SISTER AND WORKED IN THE SWEDISH COVENENT HOSPITAL IN CHICAGO AS A MAINTANCE MAN, HIS NAME WAS EINER DANIELSON. LONG DECEASED.

  17. All of you people be Proud of your Ancestors!!!!!!