Great War to Great Gatsby: 1914-1929

July 26 - October 18, 2015

Our sense of history, especially how it affected our ancestors, is often distorted by Hollywood movies, theatrical productions and television programs. Considered by some to be an awkward period of history, in reality the modern era from the tumultuous years of World War I through the flamboyant Jazz Age in the 1920s was an exciting time of transition. New thoughts, budding technologies and a breakdown of social standards created an era of great change.

This exhibition introduces the poignant local people and events of the time by capturing their stories in unique historical vignettes. Period clothing, from war uniforms to lavish gowns, iconic museum artifacts, photographs, actual movie footage and other archival documentation, many never exhibited before, will provide visitors a glimpse at the real life stories of this colorful post-Edwardian period.

Themes in the exhibition include the many roles played in the Great War, the changing roles of domestic servants and the rise of the women's suffrage and prohibition of alcohol movements. This was an era of great technological advancements, such as the radio and telephone, and motion pictures became an increasingly popular form of entertainment. Production of the automobile had an important impact on America's economy, creating a means of personal transportation and leisure travel for all.

Although the influence of social and economic change was triggered by worldwide events, this exhibition will reveal to the visitor how citizens in Oshkosh and throughout Wisconsin responded and prospered. Complementing the exhibition will be a series of special events to be announced at a later date.


Teresa "Tress" Herzig, seated on the running board, is with friends on a road trip to Madison. OPM #P2011.5.8, donated by Carol Kaufmann
Heavily beaded Paris evening gown purchased by Ruth Morris while traveling in France during the 1920s. OPM #6174-33, donated by Howard Rowland
World War One poster, circa 1918. OPM #PSN7:4, donor Anonymous