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​World War One Timeline


Just because a country goes to war, it doesn't mean that life doesn't go on as usual in the arts, sciences and politics. Here's a brief timeline to show what was going on both on and off the Western Front. 



1914

What Was Happening With the War?

  • Archduke Ferdinand and wife assassinated in Sarajevo
  • Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
  • Germany declares war on Russia
  • Great Britain declares war on Germany
  • Japan declares war on Germany
  • President Wilson proclaims American neutrality
  • Germany fine-tunes chemical warfare weapons
  • Battles of Liege, Mons, Ypres, Lodz


What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • Color motion picture process invented
  • Tarzan of the Apes is published
  • Charlie Chaplin creates The Little Tramp
  • Panama Canal completed
  • W. C. Handy composes St. Louis Blues
  • Last known passenger pigeon dies
  • Teletype machine invented
  • U.S. Navy bombs Veracruz, Mexico



1915

What Was Happening With the War?

  • RMS Lusitania and SS Arabic sunk in Atlantic
  • Germany uses submarines to blockade Britain
  • Germany creates remote control military tanks
  • Germany develops fighter airplanes
  • U.S. Coast Guard established
  • U.S. makes loans to warring nations
  • Battles of Dardanelles, Isonzo, Artois


What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • Birth of a Nation released
  • Taxi cabs appear on streets
  • Ford produces its one millionth automobile
  • First transcontinental phone call made
  • Spoon River Anthology published
  • U.S. Marines sent to Haiti
  • Perils of Pauline movie serials begin



1916

What Was Happening With the War?

  • Tanks used for first time on the Western Front
  • Romania declares war on Austria-Hungary
  • Severe food shortages appear in Germany
  • Germany uses plastic surgery to treat war wounds
  • U.S. expands Army and National Guard
  • Germany uses long-range bombers
  • Battles of Verdun, Somme, Corfu, Jutland


What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • National Park Service founded
  • First American birth control clinic opened
  • First professional golf tournament held
  • John J. Pershing chases Pancho Villa back to Mexico
  • 24 states have "dry laws" prohibiting alcohol
  • U.S. Marines sent to Santo Domingo
  • President Woodrow Wilson reelected



1917

What Was Happening With the War?

  • Wilson severs American relationship with Germany
  • German-Mexican alliance against U.S. revealed
  • Wilson declares war on Germany; America at war
  • Congress passes Selective Service Act
  • John J. Pershing appointed head of U.S. forces
  • Congress passes War Revenue Act
  • China declares war on Germany
  • First ground-to-air radios developed
  • Submarine detector invented
  • Battles at Ypres, Aisne, Champagne



What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • First woman elected to U.S. Congress
  • U.S. purchases Virgin Islands from Denmark
  • Puerto Rico becomes a U.S. territory
  • Prohibition Act sent to the states for ratification
  • Revolution in Russia; Czar assassinated
  • British support Jewish homeland in Palestine
  • Finland declares independence from Russia
  • "Jelly Roll" Morton publishes first songs
  • George M. Cohan pens Over There
  • Female factory workers adopt "bobbed hair"
  • Suffrage picketers arrested at White House



1918

What Was Happening With the War?

  • Browning invents first automatic rifle
  • Russia signs peace treaty with Germany
  • Battles of Aisne-Marne, Chateau-Thierry, Meuse-Argonne
  • German fleet mutinies
  • Manfred "Red Baron" von Richthofen shot down
  • Lt. Douglas Campbell becomes first American "ace" pilot
  • Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates and flees to Holland
  • Armistice signed
  • Wilson attends peace negotiations


What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • First scheduled airmail service offered
  • "Fats" Waller composes first hit
  • Spanish Influenza epidemic sweeps America
  • U.S. divided into four time zones
  • Daylight Savings Time goes into effect
  • British women win fight for suffrage
  • Willa Cather publishes My Antonia
  • Czechoslovakia becomes an independent state



1919

What Was Happening With the War?

  • Peace Treaty (Versailles) submitted to Congress
  • Allies and Germany sign Treaty of Versailles
  • U.S. Congress refuses to ratify Treaty of Versailles
  • U.S. Army adopts shoulder patches


What Was Happening Elsewhere?

  • President Wilson suffers debilitating stroke
  • Prohibition ratified
  • Charlie Chaplin creates United Artists movie studio

Artillery in France, 1918 (Kendrick Collection, TESHS)

A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
​April 1997 - December 1998

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Life on the Home Front During the Great War, 1917-1918

Detail from Red Cross poster, circa 1917 (Private Collection)