Service and the Draft in Oklahoma

World War I Victory Medal

World War I Victory Medal

In 1917 Oklahomans found themselves faced with the possibility that President Wilson would break with his policy of American neutrality and enter into World War I. They wrestled with the question of who should serve in the war in a variety of ways, some political and others deeply personal. This exhibit explores not only the efforts of some Oklahomans to serve, but also the actions of others who openly questioned the fairness of the draft system.

It begins with materials related to the failed efforts of Congressman Wilburn Cartwright to secure a position in the military. The exhibit then turns to the question of the draft, a topic that inspired Oklahomans to write Congressman Thomas Chandler, as they grappled with instances of discrimination and the question of how old one must be to serve.