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New York’s forgotten WWI history unearthed

Bookcover - Francis Duffy Statue, Times Square

THE history of how New York grew out of the destruction and division caused by the First World War has been brought to light in a new book.

New York and the First World War examines the city’s influence on the conflict from 1914 - three years before the United States’ official entry - as well as the unrest among its citizens who were divided by loyalties to their European homelands.

The book was written by Dr Ross Wilson, a Senior Lecturer in Modern History and Public Heritage from the Department of History at the University of Chichester.

He said: “Despite the official neutrality of the United States, New York City was connected to the war from August 1914 because many of its citizens were first or second generation European immigrants who still held strong ties to Ireland, Germany, Russia or Britain.”

“In response to this potential source of discontent within the city, the authorities, alongside other public and private organisations, began attempting to reshape the metropolis as ‘100 percent American’.”

Using federal archives, publications, and contemporary newspapers, New York and the First World War discusses how modern-day politics, economics, and social identities of the iconic city were shaped by the conflict of 1914-1918.

German reservists on Broadway - 08-04-1914

Professor Hugo Frey, Head of History and Politics at the University of Chichester, said: "Ross's work underlines that in a world of globalised international conflict there are some underlining common human experiences.”

The book, which offers a new angle surrounding how the modern-day city developed in the aftermath of the global fight, has been commended by several notable authors, including eminent First World War historian Professor Jay Winter of Yale University.

He said: "Dr Wilson’s account of the transformation of New York as an immigrant city into an American city adds an original and an important element to the burgeoning literature on the social and cultural consequences of the First World War on American life.”

1914 New York

To find out more about Dr Wilson or his book New York and the First World War: Shaping an American City visit

Alternatively for more about studying modern history at the University of Chichester go to