WWI Talks

Louis Aulbach, Amy Borgens, and Lila Rakoczy

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Camp Logan: A World War I Training Camp in Houston by Louis F. Aulbach and Linda C. Gorski, Houston Archaeological Society

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the federal government established about forty-five emergency training camps across the country to train the soldiers for the American Expeditionary Force that was to be sent to France. One of those camps was a training base for U. S. Army soldiers in Houston, Texas called Camp Logan. The initial units assigned to included the activated National Guard of the State of Illinois. Our presentation provides a detailed account of the establishment of the camp and the aspects of the training of the first wave of soldiers passing through Camp Logan.

Saboteurs, Strikes, and Surveillance: Texas Shipbuilding during the Great War by Lila Rakoczy, Texas Historical Commission

After the United States entered the First World War in April 1917 the federal government’s attention turned toward two things: mobilizing men and materiel for the war effort and shoring up public support in the process. Both presented considerable challenges. One area where these concerns overlapped was the wartime production of ships in southeast Texas. The newly created Bureau of Investigation, the forerunner of the FBI, and other government agencies exercised considerable power as they surveyed and policed civilians connected to the Texas shipbuilding industry. This talk challenges the narrative of a popular war and a united country by highlighting the labor activism, suspicion, racial tensions, and curtailment of civil liberties that was rife during the period.

WWI Shipwreck Archaeology: Abandonment of the U.S. Shipping Board Vessels in East Texas by Amy Borgens, Texas Historical Commission

As a means to offset allied shipping losses during World War I, the U.S. Shipping Board (USSB) commenced the Emergency Fleet Corporation to manufacture a wooden fleet of merchant vessels as an extension of the Merchant Marine. Shipyards in Orange, Beaumont, and Houston were tasked with the construction of these ships relying heavily on local east Texas pine resources. At the armistice, however, many of these vessels were incomplete or could not be re-purposed or sold; they were left to rot in Texas waterways. More than thirty of these shipwrecks rest under the murky waters of the Sabine and Neches Rivers and constitute one of the largest examples of World War I USSB abandonments in the United States.

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