Over There: World War I Overseas Cemeteries and Memorials of the American Battle Monuments Commission

posted Oct 19, 2014, 1:05 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Oct 19, 2014, 1:06 PM ]
A Lecture by Lisa Pfueller Davidson, PhD
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11, 2018 will mark the centennial of the Armistice ending the Great War. In its aftermath, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was established to enhance the overseas military cemeteries for the fallen and erect memorials to the combat accomplishments of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Just as the events of World War I are largely forgotten by the American public, the original commemorative program of the ABMC has been overshadowed by its massive World War II American cemeteries in places like Normandy.

Initially the War Department established eight World War I cemeteries in France, England, and Belgium. ABMC was created in 1923 to improve these cemeteries and manage an ambitious program of overseas monument building. Paul P. Cret became their consulting architect and subsequently guided every aspect of the AMBC construction program. Cret brought in an impressive roster of his architectural contemporaries, including John Russell Pope, Ralph Adams Cram, and George Howe. The architecture and landscapes of the ABMC display a sophisticated Beaux Arts approach, with the Art Moderne, Neoclassical, or Gothic Revival details and forms that characterized some of the best civic architecture of the 1920s and 30s. This lecture will examine overseas military cemetery policy after World War I, the social and political role of the ABMC sites in creating a public memory of the war, and design practices and ideals of the time.

Lisa Pfueller Davidson, Ph.D., is a historian with Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service. Her work on ABMC is part of a multi-year documentation effort by ABMC and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HAL
S) leading up to the World War I Centennial.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – brief Annual Meeting and lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $18.00 for non-members.
Bill Marzella,
Oct 19, 2014, 1:06 PM