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World War I

War was not yet on the minds of Hoosiers on June 28, 1914, when a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In fact, the United States did not officially enter the conflict until 1917. However, even before Hoosier soldiers went to fight and die on European battlefields, the war hit home. Indiana had a large number of German immigrants, and World War I was a pivotal time for German-Americans, who were looked upon with suspicion as sympathizers with, and potentially spies for, their homeland. Indiana schools stopped teaching German and some Hoosiers of German heritage anglicized their names in an attempt to show their patriotism.

Indiana sent more than 130,000 soldiers to the battlefields during World War I. More than 3,000 of them died, not only in battle, but of influenza or pneumonia. When the Spanish Influenza pandemic gripped the nation in 1918 and 1919, more Americans died from the flu than would perish in the war. In Indiana, public health officials attempted to curb the spread of the deadly disease by banning all public gatherings (including funerals) and closing schools, but approximately 10,000 Hoosiers died from the influenza.

Lesson Plans

The Effect of World War I on German Americans