Before the War

Over 44,000 Oregonians traded civilian clothes for uniforms as they left fields, schools, and factories to fight in World War I. Clockwise from top left: Finley High of Ashland; Delta Criteser of Clackamas; Jerome Woodson of Eugene; Francis Lamberty of Springfield. (OSA, Oregon Defense Council Records, World War I Personnel Photographs)
Most Oregonians led rural or small town lives on the eve of World War I, rarely leaving their farming, logging, fishing, or mining communities. In countless cases the stereotype of the naive farm boy going off to war rang true. But life changing experiences would not be limited to those destined to fight in far off lands. World war would touch all Oregonians.

To place the experience in context, this section examines some of the key aspects of life in Oregon before the "Great War." It also looks at America's reluctant path to war.

Living in Oregon Before 1917

Neutrality Collapses