The public is invited to explore Indiana’s Great War history through a series of free events hosted by Michigan City’s Barker Mansion in January and February. The mansion has partnered with the Indiana Historical Society to display a traveling exhibit titled The Great War: From Ration Lines to the Front Lines. With The Great War, visitors will see how Hoosiers experienced the first World War in distinct ways. While those of German heritage faced discrimination, African Americans and women pointed to their wartime contributions years later while advocating for social and political rights. The exhibit also explores the impact the war-time demand for steel, machinery and equipment had on Indiana’s towns and cities such as Indianapolis, South Bend and Gary. In addition, the traveling exhibit explores the roots of World War I, America’s entrance to the war, the evolution of warfare, the construction of the American Legion Building and the Indiana War Memorial.
The exhibit will be open in the mansion’s remodeled basement space from 5-7 pm Central Time on January 12, 19, 26 and February 2. Additionally, mansion staff will offer free supplementary programs on Friday nights, beginning at 5:30 pm.
On January 12, Austin Pittman will kick off the series with a multi-media presentation titled War: Michigan City and Beyond which covers the conflict at home and abroad, as well as Catherine Barker’s impact on allied troops during the Great War, including a donation of ambulances to the war effort.
TJ Kalin will lead a discussion on January 19 titled The Red Cross meets the Mansion. He will share Catherine Barker’s contribution on the home front in Michigan City, including details of how the Red Cross moved into the mansion for a period during first World War.
On January 26, Bailey Roberts will present God on the Home Front, which delves into the YMCA’s ties to the Great War. During this time, the YMCA was a spiritual force for the soldiers on the front lines, providing food, comfort, and salvation. Roberts will touch on the Barker family’s ties to the YMCA in Michigan City, weaving the two stories together.
The Friday evening events will end on February 2 with Jackie Perkins presenting Beyond the War Years. This program touches on the post-war history of the mansion, which was used as a vacation home by Catherine Barker and her first husband in the 1920’s, and was later used by Purdue University as a satellite campus. Many of the Purdue-Barker students were soldiers enrolled through the GI Bill. Perkins will detail the experience of these students at the mansion.
All events mentioned are free of charge, though freewill donations will be taken. Reservations are not necessary. The Barker Mansion is located at 631 Washington Street in Michigan City. Visit www.barkermansion.com for details.