Exhibit History

The Winds and Words of War Exhibit

The Winds and Words of War: World War I Posters and Prints:
A Traveling Exhibition from the San Antonio Public Library Collection

Wake Up America PosterOn the day the United States entered the war, (6 April 1917) Gen. John J. Pershing was in his office here at Fort Sam Houston. When the Army began looking for large tracts of land that could be used year round for training troops, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce assembled a tract of 873 acres. Within four months of the ground-breaking (8 December 1917) the newest weapon of war, the aeroplane, was flying at Gosport Field, later renamed Brooks Field. Today Brooks City-Base is one of the most innovative economic development projects in the US and the San Antonio home of Boeing.

Kelly Field was established in May 1917 with three aero squadrons. Kelly trained pilots, engineering and supply officers and some 2,000 mechanics each month. By the end of 1918, more than 5,182 officers and 197,468 enlisted men had cycled through Kelly with thousands of others receiving training at Camp Travis, Camp John Wise, Camp Stanley and Dodd Field. Kelly Field became the Port Authority of San Antonio in 2006 and is operated as the Port San Antonio business park.

The War ended on 11 November 1918, with peace and normalcy descending once more upon our now changed city. The military establishment continued to grow providing jobs and real estate boomed as home town soldiers returned and war time visitors came to live in the city they had visited as soldiers. Construction of the Texas Theatre, Labor Temple, South Texas Building, Medical Arts Building, and others in the 1920s changed the skyline. Schools such as Ira Ogden Elementary and David Barkley Elementary were named after war heroes. The Municipal Auditorium, opened in 1926, was dedicated to those World War I soldiers who gave their lives in the war.
We Want YOU for the US Army - PosterSan Antonio and Bexar County were extremely important to the war effort. Over one-tenth of the soldiers deployed to the Western Front was trained and came through San Antonio’s military bases. The burgeoning Air Force was an important tool creating a turning point, when it was employed in the skies over Europe. General Pershing had trained and staged raids against Pancho Villa, in the early 1900s from San Antonio, and then went on to play a vital role in the war. 

In 2006, the San Antonio Public Library Foundation undertook the task of looking through the archives and collection of Harry Hertzberg, to discover hundreds of vintage Propaganda prints and posters from the First World War.  In 2007, the San Antonio Public Library Foundation began a project to tour and promote a fabulous collection of vintage WWI lithographs. These prints had not been seen in public since the 1930s and brought back waves of wonderful imagery from famous artists of the day towards the war effort. With seed money support of the Veterans Administration in San Antonio, The Tobin Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Stumberg the San Antonio Public Library Foundation successfully landed a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts, Traveling Masterpiece, grant to showcase the work and travel to other libraries and museums around the country. Since it opened at the Chicago Public Library in November 2008, the exhibition has traveled to Utah, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, New York, Maryland and Texas with over 150,000 school groups and adults seeing the exhibition and programs.

It is with great pride that the San Antonio Public Library and the Library Foundation shares this collection of WWI posters with our community.  World War I played a major role in the growth and economic prosperity of San Antonio during the war and for decades afterward.   That said, we also feel very strongly that the story of the American response to the war needs to be told oversees on the “front lines” of where the story began.

The exhibition now has an invitation to come to the Museum of the Great War in Meaux, France, in June 2018. These prints will be displayed for over six months and be part of a timeline that will honor the military service of thousands of soldiers buried in the Muse d’ Argon cemetery close the front and museum.
The exhibition comes with a proposed lecture, performance and film series for museums and libraries. The accompanying catalogue will be reprinted another run in English and French. 2016 has been spent on logistical coordination and prepping for international travel.  It will go to Germany and England in 2017, and then will go to Paris in 2018.