During the Great War, “no man’s land” was the great swath of land between enemy trenches. Neither side wished to advance into this desolate wasteland full of barbed wire, bodies, and land mines.   In no man’s land, the individual was almost certainly exterminated.  Too often in American history, the stories of the Great War end up in no man’s land. The reader is pulled from the trenches and thrust into material devoid of the individual experiences of the Great War.  History focus on major events, key terms, and important people, but the history of personal experiences is lost in the efforts to streamline information.

No Man’s Land is a digital history site through the Century America Project sponsored by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and underwritten by the Teagle Foundation.  This page is the product of a semester-long project led in the spring of 2014 by Dr. Ellen Holmes Pearson, Associate Professor of History at UNC-Asheville and Dr. Jeffrey McClurken, Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Mary Washington.  Students from nine different COPLAC institutions came together using online resources to create digital history projects that commemorate the Great War as it happened in small communities with public liberal arts colleges.


Rather than the typical presentation of Great War history, No Man’s Land seeks to reconnect the reader with the nuanced, personal experiences of Kirksville citizens and students.  Key to this goal is the collection of letters written by soldiers during and just after the war, complied by E.M. Violette.  Their experiences reveal much about life in training camps and in the trenches.  One soldier even writes of no man’s land.  The Earl L. Stahl Collection, a gallery of items donated by a generous Kirksville resident and digitized for the first time, features both personal photographs and artifacts of Earl Stahl. A carpenter by trade, Stahl lived and worked in Green City, a small town just outside Kirksville.  The remaining pages of No Man’s Land present as much visual information as possible in order to connect names to faces and make the history of the Great War more than just words on a page.


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For more information on Kirksville, the Great War, and any other historical endeavor please visit the following sites:

American School of Osteopathic Medicine: The Museum of Osteopathic Medicine

The Kirksville State Normal School: Pickler Memorial Library Digital Collection