Dakota Datebook Stories: The Great War

Millions of Americans served in World War I — soldiers, sailors , nurses — and many at home provided support, suffered scarcities, and grieved for loved ones lost. The United States entered the Great War 100 years ago on April 6. Prairie Public’s Dakota Datebook is commemorating this anniversary with stories from North Dakota, thanks to historian Jim Davis and other Dakota Datebook writers.

Dakota Datebook radio features air weekdays at 8:35 am, 3:50 pm, 6:30 pm and 7:50 pm CT on Prairie Public. The Great War features will air weekly throughout the year. Find the full archives here.

Work or War

8 hours ago

On this date in 1918, the last quota of the selective service draft initiated in June the preceding year was being processed. Thirteen hundred men from North Dakota were set to board trains headed for Fort Lewis, Washington. But for those who were not drafted, there would be no leisure time.  

Manchurian Railroad

May 17, 2018

On this date in 1918, the Great War was raging, and North Dakota boys were fighting in the front-line trenches. The first three years of the war had shown that when modern weapons for conducting warfare met older tactics, the losses were staggering.  Germany was beginning a new spring offensive.

Lincoln Republicans

May 8, 2018

In the spring of 1918, with the war raging in France, another battle was playing out in the political landscape of North Dakota.  In a few short years, the Nonpartisan League, led by Arthur C. Townley, had taken control of state government.


May 1, 2018


100 years ago, North Dakota boys were now in the thick of the fighting in France. A decision of the Department of War to publish casualty lists without providing the hometowns of the soldiers created a great deal of anxiety for the families of soldiers with similar names. 

Trench Warfare

Apr 26, 2018

Soon after they arrived in France, privates in the North Dakota Regiments were often separated from their units and spirited to the front as replacements. Lacking any combat training, it was baptism under fire. 


"They can come and take me and put me in prison or kill me, but they can't make me fight. God's against war, and it isn't right.”

These words, uttered by Richard Francis Anderson in August of 1917, marked a six month, soul-searching battle for the young man from Wilton.   

War Exhibit

Apr 12, 2018

April 6, 1918 marked the one year anniversary of America’s entrance into the Great War.  In many of North Dakota’s towns and cities, impressive celebrations were held to recognize the dedicated, patriotic effort that had engulfed the state over the past twelve months.  

Daylight Savings

Apr 4, 2018


One hundred years ago, serial stories of the war, such as “Over the Top” as well as Associated Press articles, provided details of life in the front line trenches, creating a vivid picture of the war for people back home. 


The first 14,000 American troops arrived in France on June 26, 1917, but most of the American forces arrived the following year. By July 1918 there were one million American soldiers in Europe.


Wartime News

Mar 27, 2018


Throughout the first year after America entered the war in 1917, the War Department maintained a strict censorship on the news from France.   To keep the public informed, there were brief war news presentations from the Committee on Public Information by the Four Minute Men.