Ashley Stevens

Education and Outreach Coord.

Texans Take to the Trenches: The Lone Star State and the Great War

Monday, March 13, 2017 • Austin, Texas • News Release


Exhibit Opening and World War One Letters from the Texas State Archives

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission marks the 100th Anniversary of the “Great War,” with its latest exhibit: “Texans Take to the Trenches.” The collection of photographs, documents, and dispatches commemorate the Texans who responded to Uncle Sam’s “I Want You” rally cry and showcases the individual experiences of Texans dealing with the war both at home and abroad.

The public is invited to an evening at TSLAC featuring the reading of messages and stories from soldiers and their families. The event takes place from 7 – 9 pm on April 6, 2017, the Centennial date of the U.S. entry into WWI.  From the collection of the Texas State Archives, these intimate letters paint a portrait of the struggles faced by both civilians and soldiers as the world went to war.

More than 198,000 Texans answered the call to join the Allied Forces in an effort to defeat the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Although many Americans favored neutrality, the details found in a top-secret, coded communiqué between Mexico and Germany, called the Zimmerman Telegram, hinted at a possible pact to regain lost territories in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The threat of German soldiers on southwestern soil was enough to provoke President Woodrow Wilson to declare war on April 6, 1917. Before long, Doughboys were shipping off by the dozen to dig trenches and do their part “Over There.”

While the battle was raged on land, sea and air, the war effort was more than just mortar shells and mustard gas. Texans on the home front felt the ravages of war through rationing and the pain of missing their dearly beloved.

The event is free and open to the public and offers a first look at the exhibit which will be open through the end of September at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (1201 Brazos, Austin TX).

For more information visit