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EXHIBIT: Of Bronze and Bravery: Local Voices of Conscience

A guide to the companion exhibit to "Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War"

Messages in the 1917-1918 ISTA

The editors of the 1917-1918 ISTA yearbook devoted a small section to the wartime situation:

  • President Woodrow Wilson’s portrait opens the section and is captioned, “The World must me made safe for Democracy,” from Wilson’s April 1917 address to Congress requesting a Declaration of War against Germany.
  • A photograph of the Bluffton College service flag is surrounded by an open letter from the yearbook’s editor to the “Bluffton College Boys in the Service,” offering messages of pride, appreciation, and encouragement. A listing of 78 names shows the wide scattering of Bluffton’s men – from Camp Sherman in Ohio to the YMCA offices in New York City to the American Expeditionary Forces overseas.
  • The editors devote a page to the memory of Fred Bixel, a Bluffton student who, while serving at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio, succumbed to pneumonia.
  • The staff of The Witmarsum, the student newspaper, contributed, “Somewhere,” an essay on the ways in which praying for peace and overcoming “discord” require sacrifice from all who are touched by war.

The ISTA closes its war-related section with a photograph composite page depicting a number of Bluffton men in service, with many shown in their uniforms and/or in camp.

Messages in the 1918-1919 ISTA

The editors of the ISTA yearbook wove Bluffton’s wartime experience throughout the pages of the 1918-1919 edition.

  • Many of the men who returned to campus from wartime service were pictured in their uniforms, including faculty, like H.W. Berky and G.A. Lehmann, and students, like Vernon Ramseyer, Eddie Stauffer, and Wilmer Shelly. 
  • On page 30, the editors describe the continuing service of both William H. Egly, professor of English and wartime draftee to the U.S. Army, and Oliver Kratz, baseball coach and enlistee to the Y.M.C.A., in a page titled “Leave of Absence.”  Seven juniors are still represented with stars on the service flag, and the editor notes that, “…we think that these bravely answered the call when it came and that the black mark of slacker can never be blotted across the name of the Junior class.” 
  • Page 94 features a composite display of photographs; men in uniform and parades for armistice feature prominently. 
  • The annotated calendar for the school year mentions Red Cross work and the influenza quarantine in October, the declaration of peace in November, and the comings and goings of men to and from camp throughout the year.