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Ohio History Connection project captures untold WWI stories

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Dec 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The Firelands Historical Society has announced that archival collections related to the community’s role in World War I are now more accessible.

To commemorate the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I, the Ohio History Connection is digitizing WWI collections from its own archives, as well as those from 14 cultural heritage organizations across Ohio for a project titled “Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I.” 

Over the course of this two-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, World War I collections are made freely available on Ohio Memory (http://ohiomemory.org), the digital archive Ohio History Connection maintains in partnership with the State Library of Ohio. This digitization project makes archival collections more accessible to students, researchers and those with an interest in Ohio’s role in the war.

“These collections help us understand the world as it was 100 years ago and how history shapes our world today,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection. “By preserving and sharing these important stories, we get an understanding of Ohio’s place in this national conflict.”

One of the main goals of “Little Stories of the Great War” is to share the often-untold stories of the men and women from Ohio who contributed to the war effort in important ways.

One of Norwalk’s most prominent citizens during the first half of the 20th century, Dr. Robert C. Gill, began his military career with the Ohio National Guard in 1911. In June 1917, he entered service with the U.S. Army’s 37th Division as a surgeon in the 112th Sanitary Train of the Medical Corps. Gill was sent to France in June 1918 and served on the front lines, eventually commanding the 145th Ambulance Co.

Promoted to the rank of major, he returned home in the spring of 1919 to resume his medical practice in his home town of Norwalk. Gill died March 10, 1955 at the age of 67. His military trunk, filled with his personal items from his time in the service, was donated to the Firelands Historical Society by his wife, Olga Schroeder Gill.

To learn more about these stories, visit the digital collection on Ohio Memory at www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/wwi or see the collection in person at the Fireland Historical Society Museum, 4 Case Ave. The society is dedicated to the collection and preservation of artifacts for the Firelands area and is available via mail at [email protected]

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