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A look at life one century ago in Peterborough

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • A group climbs Pack Monadnock in the summer of 2017 in an image that is part of the 1917 exhibit at the Monadnock Center of History in Culture.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • A group of objects, including a victrola and scooter, dating back to 1917, on display at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 9:35AM

Life carried on in the Monadnock region in 1917 – teenagers swam in Half Moon Pond in Hancock, or played basketball at Sargent Camp, and went hiking on Pack Monadnock. But in most ways, life was framed by what was happening outside of New Hampshire by what was then called the Great War. 

The latest exhibit at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture includes photographs and items of everyday life from around the region in 1917. And scenes that would not be unrecognizable today are part of it. But, as was life in general at that time, most of the exhibit revolves around the patriotic fever and participation in World War I. The exhibit explores both what was happening at the homefront, and to some of the locals serving overseas during this time period.

Everything took on a new context. Pastimes such as sewing or knitting became ways to help the war effort, whether by knitting socks for the troops, or sewing service flags to hang in the windows of families to represent the men away, serving in the war. Gardening became a form of war support, in part to promote the conservation of foods containing wheat or sugar so that food could be sent to Europe. 

And while the exhibit examines how individuals on the home front contributed to the war effort, it also recognizes local individuals who were involved more directly. Like 1st Lt. William H. Cheney of Peterborough, who enlisted in the Army Signal Corps at the start of the war and was killed in a plane collision while training in bombers. Or Corp. James P. Shea of Keene, who survived the war after he was pulled from a combat position when it was learned that he knew how to type, and made it home to Keene to raise a family. 

The Monadnock Center for History and Culture’s 1917: Looking Back 100 Years exhibit is on display now. There will be a gallery talk on June 16 at 10 a.m. Admission is $3 with children or members free. The Center will also hold a walking tour of sites in downtown Peterborough related to the World War I home front and discuss the ways the community supported the war effort. The tour is free, and starts from the Monadnock Center on June 24 at 10:30 a.m. The Center is also partnering with the Peterborough Town Library for a talk by historian Carrie Brown entitled “Rosie’s Mom: Forgotten Women of the First World War” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the library.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.