The Chemists’ War: Environmental Histories of Chemical Weapons Manufacture in the United States during World War I
December 13,6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Co-sponsored by the Linda Hall Library and National World War I Museum and Memorial
The program will be held at the World War I Museum, 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Missouri.
During the short time the United States was formally in World War I—only 585 days—the federal government successfully manufactured thousands of tons of chemical weapons such as chlorine, phosgene, chlorpicrin, and mustard gas and just under four million gas masks, an amazing industrial achievement. My talk discusses the environmental impact of chemical warfare production in the United States on the homefront looking at the construction of the Edgewood Arsenal in rural Maryland and the role civilians and the Red Cross played in gathering food waste, such as nutshells and fruit pits, for gas mask production. These stories elucidate the complex impact nature and the environment played in the process of industrialization and military mobilization during a global war.
Dr. Gerard J. Fitzgerald is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and is currently a Research Fellow at the Linda Hall Library. This talk is part of his new book project, Nature and the Great War: Military Industrialization in the United States 1898-1920. His most recent work, “The Chemist’s War: Edgewood Arsenal, World War I, and the Birth of a Militarized Landscape,” was published this fall in Environmental Impacts of World War I by Cambridge University Press.
The event is free and open the public. The program will be held at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. To register, visit the WWI Museum and Memorial website. A reception begins at 6:00 p.m.; the lecture begins at 6:30 p.m.