1915: A Year in Review


In 1915, the world was in the second year of the Great War. Over the course of the year, the use of poison gas, submarine warfare, and aerial bombing changed the face of war. Britain and the Ottoman Empire squared off at Gallipoli–a military stalemate with heavy losses on both sides that helped form the national identities of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. The sinking of the Lusitania* outraged the United States, though not enough to overturn America’s official neutrality.

Depending on what part of Historyland you hang out in, it’s easy to forget that the war wasn’t the only thing that happened in 1915. Or maybe it is easy to forget. Here in the Margins, World War I vanished altogether. Not a single blog post on the subject.

Either way, here are a few things–good and bad, large and small–worth remembering:

  • Alexander Graham Bell placed the first transatlantic phone call on January 25. I leave it to you to decide whether this was a good thing or the first step in the decline of civilization.
  • On April 24th, the Ottoman empire killed thousands of its Armenian citizens, in what is generally considered the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.
  • Einstein postulated his theory of general relativity,** which changed our understanding of the structure of space and time. Not my personal understanding.*** Maybe not yours. But the understanding of the people who understand these things.
  • Political cartoonist Johnny Gruelle created Raggedy Ann.
  • One of my favorite books was published: John Buchan’s  The Thirty-Nine Steps.
  • The Ford assembly line produced its millionth car.

* Which contained contraband arms and munitions for Britain in its hold, an inconvenient fact that explains Germany’s decision to torpedo the passenger ship.
** Not E=mc2. That’s special relativity. You now know everything I know about this.
***Though now that I think about it, I spend a lot of time thinking about time and space as a historian. And cultural relativity. Hmm.

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