North Carolina and World War I

April 8, 2017, through Jan. 6, 2019

This interactive multimedia exhibit will commemorate the centennial of US entry into World War I and focus on North Carolina’s role in the War to End All Wars on the western front in France and Belgium. Visitors will experience a re-created trench warfare environment to discover what life was like for Tar Heel soldiers.

The 6,500-square-foot exhibition will highlight approximately 500 artifacts, period photography, a trench diorama, historical film footage, educational interactive components, and video re-enactments that feature European and North Carolina soldiers and citizens to relate the stories of ordinary men and women from North Carolina who provided extraordinary service to their country 100 years ago.

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, a World War I Centennial Commemoration will take place in downtown Raleigh, the day the exhibit opens.

The day will begin with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the World War I section of the North Carolina Veterans Memorial on the State Capitol grounds with the NC National Guard, World War I reenactors and attending dignitaries.

Afterward, a ribbon-cutting will officially open North Carolina and World War I at the N.C. Museum of History. The day will feature a range of free family-oriented activities including: 

  • bagpiper dressed in World War I regalia, performing at the opening of the exhibit.
  • The NC National Guard will be bringing two vehicles: a heavily armored Humvee and a 5-ton cargo truck. They will be parked along Edenton Street.
  • mobile museum, the "History Machine," from the North Carolina National Guard Museum.
  • A film screening of historian and filmmaker Marc McClure's documentary, "Valor," about the life of North Carolinian Kiffin Rockwell at noon and 2 p.m.
  • 16 costumed reenactors.
  • The screening of clips from the Museum's own video series "585 Days, if You’re Lucky" will be at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. These clips (based on primary sources) share firsthand stories from the trenches, hospitals, and homes of those troubled times
  • A book signing by Research Historian Jessica Bandel of her new book, "North Carolina and the Great War, 1914-1918" from noon to 2 p.m.
  • A local knitting group knitting examples of “Knit for Sammie!”, items that were promoted by the American Red Cross during WW1.
  • Eight organization tables and two craft tables.

Organizations that will be participating in the WWI Opening event on April 8th include:

  • Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina
  • North Carolina National Guard Museum
  • North Carolina National Guard 
  • North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • North Carolina State Library
  • North Carolina State Archives
  • Raleigh Post of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • WUNC-TV/NC Public Television
  • North Carolina Museum of History Associates
  • North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs

North Carolina and World War I is part of a statewide initiative by the N.C.  Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Many other World War I programs will be taking place in 2017 and 2018. 

Behind the Scenes of Exhibit's Creation

Associated Programs

From April 6 to April 8, Meredith College will hold a World War I Symposium. Learn more about it here.