Image of WWI soldier uniform with gas mask, poster of the rose of no man's land, and picture of African American soldier

World War I

The year 2018 marked the centennial of the Armistice ending the First World War. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this world-altering historical event marked the dividing line between historical and modern America. The war drastically changed the world, thrusting the United States onto the global stage and exposing millions of Americans to foreign lands and modern warfare. Immediately after the war erupted in Europe in 1914, though their country remained neutral, Americans became involved in the war effort both individually and through organizations. After war had raged on “over there” for almost three years, the United States officially intervened in April 1917.

The National Museum of American History holds a variety of collections demonstrating the transformative history of World War I and of the United States’ participation in it. Our objects and their stories help illuminate civilian participation, civil rights, volunteerism, women’s military service, minority experiences, art and visual culture, medical technological development and new technologies of war and peace. On this site, we will be sharing the Museum’s World War I collections, online exhibits and programming, and research. These will be updated regularly and augmented with additional content.

Object Groups


Poster Exhibition

  • World War I: Lessons and Legacies explores "the war to end all wars" and its lasting impact and far-reaching influence on American life. Educators, schools, and museums are invited to request this free poster exhibition, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the National Museum of American History, in cooperation with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.