Episode 106: French Fashion, World War One, And Your Ancestors

A number of years ago I attended a conference in Kansas City Missouri. With a free afternoon, I decided to visit the National World War I museum. The National World WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war.  It was designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial.

There is a sense of wonder and discovery when visiting a museum for the first time. What artifacts will be on display?  What new information will be passed on through the interpretative exhibits? And for me, what photos might be there.  There were no stories passed down in the family of men who served in the Great War or of women who aided the war effort.  Exhibits inspire thought, dialogue and learning to make the experience of the Great War (because no one thought there would be another) relevant to present and future generations.  The National World War I museum is now among my favorites. 

As the Photo Detective, I’ve seen my share of images taken during the war years including men and women in uniform as well as everyday dress. Those photos show how fashion evolved during the Great War. There were new styles introduced influenced by the conflict such as trench coats and wristwatches for instance. 

There is a new exhibit currently on display and online at the National World War I Museum: Silk and Steel: French Fashion, Women and WWI explores the role of the French fashion industry and how those changes to dress occurred.  

Related Episodes:

Episode 93: 1918 Pandemic Fashion and Tips for Analyzing Clothing Clues

Episode 75: One Man’s World War One  Journey 

Episode 31 A World War One Resource 


About My Guest:

Doran Cart is Senior Curator of the National World War I Museum and Memorial

He has been the curator since April 1990 and Senior Curator since 2011. He has lived in Kansas City, Missouri since 1985. He has been involved in the restoration of the memorial, the creation of the current world-class museum, numerous permanent and special exhibitions and the growth of the museum collection into the most diverse collection on the war.

He has a B.A. in history from Indiana University and an M.A. in Museum Studies and History from the University of California, Riverside. Since he started his professional career in 1974, Doran has worked in museums, at historic sites and in historic preservation from Indiana to California to Florida and finally in Kansas City.

He has written a number of articles on historical subjects and edited two books. Doran has been interviewed on the national Fox News, for shows on the History Channel, PBS’ History Detectives, and by numerous local, regional, and international media.

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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