Kentucky and the Great War
World War I on the Home Front
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
From five thousand children marching in a parade, singing, "Johnnie get your hoe.... Mary dig your row," to communities banding together to observe Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Kentuckians were loyal supporters of their country during the First World War. Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the nation, and the state increased its coal production by 50 percent during the war years. Overwhelmingly, the people of the Commonwealth set aside partisan interests and worked together to help the nation achieve victory in Europe.
David J. Bettez provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great War on Bluegrass society, politics, economy, and culture, contextualizing the state's involvement within the national experience. His exhaustively researched study examines the Kentucky Council of Defense -- which sponsored local war-effort activities -- military mobilization and preparation, opposition and dissent, and the role of religion and higher education in shaping the state's response to the war. It also describes the efforts of Kentuckians who served abroad in military and civilian capacities, and postwar memorialization of their contributions. Kentucky and the Great War explores the impact of the conflict on women's suffrage, child labor, and African American life. In particular, Bettez investigates how black citizens were urged to support a war to make the world "safe for democracy" even as their civil rights and freedoms were violated in the Jim Crow South. This engaging and timely social history offers new perspectives on an overlooked aspect of World War I.
"This book is a thorough study of World War I and its impact on Kentucky and Kentuckians. The book will have a great appeal to historians and those interested in the history of our wars." -- William E. Ellis, professor emeritus at Eastern Kentucky University and author of A History of Education in Kentucky
"Path breaking, detailed, and thoroughly researched, this first book on Kentucky in World War I will stand as the definitive study." -- James A. Ramage, author of Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby
"David Bettez has crafted an excellent account of how World War I impacted Kentucky socially, economically, and politically." -- Journal of America's Military Past
"Bettez has taken the formidable task of researching and writing about how the men, women and children of the commonwealth participated in one of the greatest conflicts in history. Not only did he meet the challenges of condensing Kentucky's contributions to the allied victory in World War I into fewer than 500 pages, he produced a superior work of history on Kentucky during the period leading up to, and throughout, America's involvement in one of the most important wars of our time.
Rarely does a book come along that can be honestly hailed as a definitive work. Kentucky and the Great War is without a doubt such a work." -- Kentucky Gazette
"An excellent state history of the war years, Bettez's work will prove insightful for historians examining the late Progressive Era in Kentucky and beyond." -- Ohio Valley History
"Well-researched with detailed endnotes, this book examines an often-overlooked era in our history." -- Kentucky Monthly
" Kentucky in the Great War details the workings of a population undergoing economic and social change. It shows us that history is not necessarily a straight line. It zigs and zags with setbacks and great achievements. The author shines in his effective use of evidence, and traverses the complexities of the story with ease. I predict that historians will use this study for years to come as the standard for a state history during the Great War." -- Roads to the Great War
"Bettez's overview of World War I and the domestic front in Kentucky has all the hallmarks of a major work covering over ten topics in 304 pages, not counting an up-to-date bibliography, solid index, and in-depth endnote citations. His work is broad ranging, covering such varied topics as the Kentucky Council of Defense, opposition to the war, women and children, the economy, religion, African Americans, and the impact on food and fuel." -- H-Net Reviews
- Kentucky History Award