The Mount Horeb Area Historical Society will host University of Wisconsins-Stevens Point professor emerita Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, who will present “Doing Your Bit by Going to the Movies in the Great War” on Saturday, May 19 at 2:00 p.m. at the Driftless Historium (100 S 2nd St, Mount Horeb). This event is free and open to the public.
In 1917, the movies were a popular pastime in the United States and they were big business. Actors including Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks lit up the screens in big cities and small towns alike across the country; they also endorsed products, and after the U.S. entered World War I in April that year, stars helped to raise money for the war effort by selling Liberty Bonds. Movie theater managers also demonstrated their patriotism in a variety of ways during the war. In fact, one selling point for patronizing the movies was that you were helping the government when you bought your ticket and paid a 1-cent war tax.
“Doing Your Bit,” will describe the ways the movies and movie theaters enlisted in the war effort while simultaneously doing their best to increase profits. States like Wisconsin, with its large German population and pre-war isolationist stance, posed a challenge that the film industry met and mastered over the 18 months of World War I.
Dr. DeBauche’s interest in the movies and World War I began when she studied film at the UW-Madison and wrote her dissertation on this topic. Besides her book, Reel Patriotism, the Movies and World War I, she has also published research on movie-going in Stevens Point, WI during the Great War. Currently, she is studying the scrapbooks that teenaged girls compiled in the 1910s, aiming to describe the importance of movies in their lives growing up during this dynamic time.
This lecture event is the first of five scheduled speakers on the topic of WWI, a 2018 program series commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. The November 1918 armistice, which took effect on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” ended four years of devastating conflict across the globe and marked a hard-fought victory for Allies Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States. Call the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society to learn more about this series at 608-437-6486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.