Monday, March 3, 2014


For more information on any of these names and events, start at the Wikipedia page for 1917.

A WWI "doughboy"
The biggest events of 1917 can be summed up in three words: World War I.  Of course, it was called that then; until World War II it was called simply "the World War" or "the Great War." Many of the event below relate to this.

In January, President Woodrow Wilson called for "peace without victory" in Germany; in February diplomatic ties were severed, and later that month the infamous Zimmermann Telegram revealed Germany's offer to give the American Southwest back to Mexico in return for an alliance; and in April the United States declared war on Germany.

In May the President was given the power of conscription--the draft; in August's Green Corn Rebellion, several hundred farmers protested that WWI draft in Oklahoma.

In the "Births" and "Deaths" below, the most interesting to me is the death of frontiersman and showman William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. I recall Joseph Campbell saying that seeing the "Wild West Show" at Madison Square Gardens had a major influence on his life and work. The show ran until 1913; Campbell was born in 1904.

Also note the birth of President John F. Kennedy, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957.

--In the States--

  • January: The US bought the Danish West Indies, now known as the US Virgin Islands.
  • January: The United States ended its search for Pancho Villa.

  • March: The Jones Act granted Puerto Ricans United States citizenship.
  • March: Woodrow Wilson began his second term as president.
  • March: Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman member of the United States House of Representatives.
  • June: The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.
  • June: The Lions Clubs International was formed.
  • July: The NAACP (formed in 1909) formed "The Silent Parade" in New York City to protest the East St. Louis Riot of July 2, as well as lynchings in Tennessee and Texas.
  • November: In a "Night of Terror" in the United States, influential suffragettes from the Silent Sentinels were deliberately subjected to physical assaults by guards while imprisoned.

  • February: Mata Hari was arrested in Paris for spying on behalf of the Germans.
  • March: Venustiano Carranza was elected president of Mexico.
  • March: Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his throne for his son. This is considered to be the end of the Russian Empire after 196 years.
  • May to October: Sightings by three Portuguese children of Our Lady of Fátima.
  • July: The British Royal Family took the name Windsor, rather than the too-German-sounding Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
  • November: The October Revolution in Russia.
  • November: The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals was founded in the United Kingdom.
  • December: Theosophist Annie Besant became president of the Indian National Congress.
  • Date Unknown: The first of the Cottingley Fairies photographs were taken in Yorkshire.

--Quick Facts--

Note that many of the songs this year centered around leave-taking as the boys went off to war: "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France"; "Goodbye Ma! Goodbye Pa! Goodbye Mule!"; etc. 

  • Eddie Cantor makes his first recordings

Songs Published:
  • "For Me And My Gal" words by Edgar Leslie and; E. Ray Goetz, music by George W. Meyer
  • "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" words by Joseph McCarthy, music by Harry Carroll (melody adapted from Chopin)
  • "McNamara's Band" words by John J. Stamford, music by Shamus O'Connor
  • "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!" words by Ed Rose, music by Abe Olman
  • "Over There" words and music by George M. Cohan

Vintage photos and a 1917 recording of "Over There"
  • "Tiger Rag" words by Harry De Costa, music by Edwin B. Edwards, Nick La Rocca, Tony Sbarbaro, Henry Ragas and Larry Shields (note that my grandfather was credited with contributing to the composition of this song)
  • "Till The Clouds Roll By" words by P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern,music by Jerome Kern  
On the Screen: 
  • Buster Keaton makes his film debut
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Cleopatra, starring Theda Bara
  • Harold Lloyd
Books Published This Year: 
  • A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs), first of the Barsoom series featuring John Carter
  • His Last Bow (Arthur Conan Doyle), a Sherlock Holmes collection
  • Prufrock, and Other Observations (T. S. Eliot)
  • The Wild Swans at Coole, Other Verses and a Play in Verse (W. B. Yeats) 
Pulitzer Prizes:  
  • Novel (later called "Fiction"): No award given
  • Drama: No award given
  • History: With Americans of Past and Present Days by His Excellency J.J. Jusserand
  • Biography: Julia Ward Howe by Laura E. Richards and Maude Howe Elliott assisted by Florence Howe Hall The other three categories had not been established yet.  
Nobel Peace Prize: International Committee of the Red Cross

      President: Woodrow Wilson (started second term in March) Births:
      • Desi Arnaz, actor and Cuban musician, married to Lucille Ball
      • Ernest Borgnine, actor on McHale's Navy 
      • Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange and many more
      • Arthur C. Clarke, sci-fi author whose works included 2001: A Space Odyssey 
      • Phyllis Diller, cackling comic genius

      • Ella Fitzgerald, jazz legend
      • Zsa Zsa Gabor, "actress" and personality, dahling
      • Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India
      • Dizzy Gillespie, jazz great Katharine Graham, journalist and publisher
      • Carl Karcher, Businessman and founder of Carl's Jr.
      • John F. Kennedy, U.S. president and Pulitzer winner
      Young JFK, top left
      • Robert Lowell, double Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet
      • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation and Guru to the Beatles
      • Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines
      • Dean Martin, singer, actor, and original "Rat Pack" member
      • Carson McCullers, author of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
      • Irving Penn, New York-based photographer
      • Sidney Sheldon, popular novel writer
      • "Diamond" Jim Brady, flashy businessman and owner of the first private automobile in New York
      • William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, frontiersman and showman (see above)
      • Émile Durkheim, French sociologist called the "father of sociology"
      • Scott Joplin, archetypal ragtime composer and pianist

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