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Wednesday May 23, 2018
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One hundred years ago this month

The Great War was drawing near

by Tim Athan

From the July, 2014 issue

Western civilization turned a corner in July 1914, with the start of the Great War.

Ann Arbor was a cozy college town of 15,000. "A hog which was being pursued by a dog ran into Miss Staebler, knocking her down so unfortunately that she broke one of her wrists," reported the Ann Arbor News.

But modernity was arriving. A visitor named Fred Schaible, the News reported, also broke his wrist--"while trying to crank his automobile." Though roads were being paved, the speed limit on Packard was 15 mph, reduced to 10 mph when "approaching a person walking, or animal being led or driven."

The progressive moment was in full flower. Ann Arbor had an Anti-Tuberculosis Society, and the city government was working on "Adequate Food Inspection and Prosecution for Adulteration." The Orpheum Theater was showing the film version of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle: "A tremendous and daring story of the Beef Packing industry." And the eight-hour workday was arriving; the News headlined its story "Fear Eight Hour Law Will Hurt Business."

Suffragettes, "Suffs," demonstrated for the right to vote; the temperance movement was influential; and the development of genetics was heading in a dangerous direction. The U-M Medical School hosted a lecture titled, "Appeal for Eugenics": "How much can be done by sterilization, how much by interference in marriage is a question."

Near the end of the month the mounting crisis in Europe played out in Ann Arbor News headlines:

July 24: Peace of Europe Now Threatened

July 25: Hope of Peace Waning Fast

July 27: Mediation May Prevent Big War

July 28: War is Declared Today

July 29: Europe Awaits Opening of Struggle

July 30: European War is Now Certain (Subheading: "War will help Mich. Farmers")

July 31: State of War Proclaimed by Kaiser    (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2014.]


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