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Gail Romano and Kingsley Baird

The narrative of 1917 and its legacy is characterised by a multitude of perspectives, practices, cultures, histories, locations, and expressions. It is the richness and diversity associated with this year that inspired a significant international symposium in 2017 during the centenary of the First World War, The Myriad Faces of War: 1917 and its Legacy.

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  • The narrative of 1917 and its legacy is characterised by a multitude of perspectives, practices, cultures, histories, locations, and expressions. It is the richness and diversity associated with this year that inspired a significant international symposium in 2017 during the centenary of the First World War, The Myriad Faces of War: 1917 and its Legacy.
  • Introduction
  • The narrative of 1917 and its legacy is characterised by a multitude of perspectives, practices, cultures, histories, locations, and expressions. It is the richness and diversity associated with this year that inspired a significant international symposium in 2017 during the centenary of the First World War, The Myriad Faces of War: 1917 and its Legacy.
  • Last updated on: 19 Jan 2021 | File Size: 1.5 MB


Romano,  Gail and Kingsley Baird. 2020. Introduction. Bulletin of the Auckland Museum. 21: 1–4.

Other articles in this issue

  • ‘That Huge, Haunted Solitude’

    Paul Gough
    Arts University Bournemouth

    In 1917 the British government took the unprecedented decision to ban the depiction of the corpses of British and Allied troops in officially sponsored war art. A decade later, in 1927, Australian painter Will Longstaff exhibited Menin Gate at Midnight which shows a host of phantom soldiers emerging from the soil of the Flanders battlegrounds and marching towards Herbert Baker’s immense memorial arch.

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  • The Alterity of the Readymade

    Marcus Moore
    Massey University

    In April 1917, a porcelain urinal titled Fountain was submitted by Marcel Duchamp (or by his female friend, Louise Norton) under the pseudonym ‘R. MUTT’, to the Society of Independent Artists in New York. The Society’s committee refused to show it in their annual exhibition of some 2,125 works held at the Grand Central Palace.

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  • ‘The Past We Harvest That Was Yours’

    Kingsley Baird
    Massey University

    In 2004 the remains of a First World War soldier were disinterred from the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery in France and returned to New Zealand to be reburied in the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Wellington. The warrior’s original resting place in the Somme was in a Commonwealth (formerly Imperial) War Graves Commission cemetery.

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  • Singing From the Same Song Sheet

    Paul D. Turner
    Massey University

    This article reviews how singing came to be used as part of the school experience in 1917 to foster a sense of patriotism, and to support New Zealand’s commitment to the First World War.

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  • ‘He died for us’

    Steve Watters
    Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage

    On Anzac Day 2015, the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, officially opened to the public. With the National War Memorial, dedicated in 1932, at its heart, the development of the park was the government’s key project to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War. The park shared its opening with another First World War commemorative initiative, The Great War Exhibition at the nearby former National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum building.

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  • Mud, Blood and Not So Much Poppycock

    Alex Mayhew
    London School of Economics and Political Science

    This article explores the origins of the ‘myths’ that have come to dominate popular memory of the First World War in Britain. Perceptions of the conflict as a bloody exercise in futility, orchestrated by inept generals, and fought in fields of mud are undoubtedly unrepresentative.

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  • 1917 and the Long Reach of War

    Bruce Scates & Rebecca Wheatley
    Australian National University

    Battles, by their very nature, are fixed in time and space. Paradoxically (as several historians have observed) they defy the constraints of linear time and their effects can be felt well into the future. This article explores the way the third battle of Ypres changed the lives of three men caught up in the carnage.

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  • The Politics of Heroism

    Bryce Abraham
    Australian War Memorial

    Afghanistan veteran Ben Roberts-Smith is one of the most well-known faces of modern conflict in Australia. The decorated special forces soldier is frequently at the forefront of commemorative initiatives, has become a spokesman for health and sport, and is popularly portrayed as the embodiment of the modern ‘Anzac’. But Roberts-Smith’s social currency as a hero is not a recent phenomenon.

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  • Having a Good War During a Bad Year

    John Crawford
    New Zealand Defence Force

    To have ‘a good war’ may be defined as ‘making the most of the opportunities presented to one during wartime’. This article focuses on one man who had a good war between 1914 and 1918; with a particular focus on 1917. In 1914 Herbert Hart was a small-town solicitor and officer in the part-time Territorial Force. By the end of the First World War he was a much decorated and highly regarded brigadier-general. The factors that led to Hart having a good war and how they can be seen at work during his career in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force are assessed in this article. How having a good war and becoming a senior officer changed Hart’s experience of war on the western front and the trajectory of his life are also examined.

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  • ‘Fittingly Displayed’

    Kirstie Ross
    Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

    In 1917, the director of the Dominion Museum in Wellington, New Zealand sent his first form letter to the next-of-kin of New Zealanders awarded medals during the Great War. The director wrote to families, asking them for photographs of their decorated kin, and any other artefacts, ‘in readiness for the time when they can be fittingly displayed’. The outcome of this effort was 71 photographic display boards, now held at Archives New Zealand along with the correspondence associated with the acquisition, reproduction, and display of the photographs.

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  • The Disabled Soldiers’ Embroidery Industry Casket

    Joseph McBrinn
    Ulster University

    In 1917, English artist and actor Ernest Thesiger wrote to the Ministry of Pensions with what must have seemed a somewhat eccentric proposal that they establish an embroidery workshop to provide training and employment for disabled combatants returning from the war. Thesiger suggested the men could initially ‘copy and mend old needlework’ but eventually they should make and sell their own designs.

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  • Competing Visions of World Order

    Thomas Munro

    Throughout the First World War, neutrals and belligerents publicly defined what they believed their nation’s role in the conflict to be and what they hoped the post-war world would look like. The public discussion in the United States about the structure of post-war international relations drew on a discourse about the nation’s role in world affairs that the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 had significantly shaped. The conferences dealt with a range of issues, such as disarmament, the laws of war, and the development of international organisations, and provided the opportunity for these ideas to be debated in a more public manner than ever before.

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  • 1917 in Latin America

    María Inés Tato
    University of Buenos Aires

    This article aims to analyse the impact of the United States’ entry into the war on the Latin American intellectual field.

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  • Wool, Paper, Dye

    Madelyn Shaw & Trish FitzSimons
    National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution & Griffith University

    In the Great War, wool was as essential to success as steel and gunpowder. All combatant nations tried to ensure continuing supplies of this vital resource, but none so successfully as Britain, whose Australian and New Zealand dominions were key sources of the apparel wools sought after for military uniforms and blankets.

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  • 1917: Germany at the Crossroads

    Michael Epkenhans
    Centre for Military History and Social Sciences of the German Armed Forces, Potsdam

    In late 1916 Germany stood at the crossroads. Though it had withstood heavy attacks by the Allies and won an unexpected victory over a new enemy, Romania, it was clear that Germany could not win a war without end. As a result, Germany offered a compromise peace. Whether this offer was genuine is still debated by historians.

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  • The Spirit of 1776/1917

    Laura A. Macaluso

    In the summer of 1917 Americans began preparing to enter the European War. Cantonments and camps sprang up around the country, making doughboys out of farmhands, clerks, factory workers—and college students. New Haven, Connecticut was one such place: the site of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, makers of the Enfield and BAR rifles, home to Yale University and campsite of the 102nd Regiment of the Yankee Division. New Haven has had a sometimes productive, sometimes difficult relationship with the Ivy League school over the course of 300 years.

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  • ‘Won’t You Meet Us Half-Way?’

    David Littlewood
    Massey University

    The treatment of conscientious objectors is one of the biggest blots on New Zealand’s First World War record. Many of these individuals were imprisoned and deprived of their civil rights, some were brutalised while confined in domestic army camps, and a few were even forcibly transported to the western front. Historians have identified the nine military service boards, established to determine appeals for exemption from conscription, as playing a significant enabling role in this persecution. Labelled as over-zealous and ignorant jingoists, the boards’ members are said to have been far more concerned with ridiculing conscientious objectors’ beliefs than with properly assessing their claims. This article evaluates such assertions by reference to the exemption hearings that took place during 1917.

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  • The ‘Rules of Engagement’

    Darise Bennington
    Duncan Cotterill Lawyers

    This article will examine New Zealand laws that were introduced during the First World War, and which evolved out of a need to bring order to society at a time of world-wide chaos. It will consider the introduction of laws that dealt with sedition and ‘intoxicating liquor’, issues that challenged the government’s ability to maintain law and order, and the leading legal cases of 1917 arising out of those new laws. These cases helped determine the legality of New Zealand’s role in the Great War, and the extent of the Government’s right to make laws committing New Zealand to conflicts outside its three-mile limits. Also considered will be the ongoing legacies of those laws, how long they continued to be used as a means to control society after the First World War had ended, and whether there are aspects of those laws that have continued to have effect in law and on society up to the present day.

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