DuPage County Historical Museum’s Latest Exhibit Focuses on the Year 1917

CONTACT: Gina Catalano
Wheaton Park District


September 14, 2017

Wheaton, Ill.— International tension, meddling in foreign affairs, revolutions and civil unrest; these are not just contemporary problems of the world. A century ago, the same aggressive stimuli of today wracked the globe. The Great War took a toll worldwide, but the textbooks scarcely describe its impact on local communities.

This September, the DuPage County Historical Museum intends to go beyond textbook definitions with their newest exhibit, 1917: Catalyst for the Modern Era. The exhibit will feature uniforms from multiple branches and levels of the military as well as the habit worn by one of the noble women who served in the Red Cross. “The exhibit is very different from what we have done in the past few years,” Museum Curator Ashley Downing said. “Instead of focusing on the history of an object or a family, we are trying to focus on one specific year to provide our guests with a glimpse of what life would have been like.”

During WWI, Illinois alone contributed 351,153 individuals to the war effort. Within the first few drafts, 1,000 young DuPage men enlisted in the army, navy and marines. A hundred years later, DuPage thanks them, not just for their dedication and service to the nation, but for donating their personal artifacts to be preserved in the Museum’s collection.

Additionally, the Museum will be hosting a Veteran’s Day event open to the public on November 11 at 3P. Local band The History Singers will be performing their discography of WWI-era songs. Museum Manager Michelle Podkowa will be in attendance to discuss Voices of DuPage, an oral history initiative at the Museum, which will have a Veteran focus in 2018. “It will be an amazing event, honoring our troops and learning about the songs that inspired an entire generation,” Podkowa said. “The History Singers present the history of the songs and their importance, making it an educational and entertaining event for all ages.”

1917: Catalyst for the Modern Era will be on display from September 23, 2017 to July 30, 2018 at the DuPage County Historical Museum (102 E. Wesley St., Wheaton, IL). Admission to the exhibit opening on September 23 is free. The opening will run from 12-4 and include three activities for families: creating paper airplanes, designing your own American flag and making a red poppy to honor the troops. All activities are free and supplies are provided.

1917 Catalyst for the Modern Era

Photo © DuPage County Historical Museum 2017