The road to war
What follows is an online version of an exhibition which was on display in the Upper Library exhibition cases from October 2012 until June 2013.
All images are copyright The Queen's College and may not be reproduced without permission.
Introduction to the exhibition
As the centenary of the outbreak of World War I approaches we have been considering how best to mark the anniversary in Queen’s. The Library is fortunate in possessing an extensive collection of First World War material which covers both the war itself and the run up to the conflict. As our collection is so large we decided to hold two exhibitions, one now to explore what was happening in years immediately before the outbreak of war and one during the centenary of the war itself. Our collection enables us to have this two pronged approach as the rich and varied holdings shed an illuminating light on the period and, when viewed alongside each other, provide a unique overview to events both before and during the conflict.
A large proportion of our WWI holdings originally belonged to William Sanday, the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Christ Church who became fascinated by the First World War and, on his death in 1920, donated his extensive collection to Queen’s together with his theological pamphlets.
The collection as a whole contains German, French, British and some American publications, both monograph and pamphlet. Most of the material was produced by the opposing sides during the war itself and some of it is graphic propaganda although there are also a number of very thoughtful essays on the origin of the war, several by Sanday himself.
When the First World War broke out in 1914 Sanday the theologian found a new subject for his writings. His political standpoint was rather conservative and the armed forces always had a curious fascination for him. He threw himself wholeheartedly into the business of a pamphleteer, publishing in 1914 The Deeper Causes of the War (displayed here); The Meaning of the War for Germany and Great Britain: an Attempted Synthesis (1915); In View of the End: a Retrospect and a Prospect (1916) and When Should the War End? (1917).
In addition to Sanday’s pamphlet items were chosen for the exhibition to illustrate a variety of perspectives and a range of different attitudes from the opposing powers to each other. They include works written by German, American and British authors. All the items on show were written no later than 1915 in order to keep the focus clearly on the road to war and the opening months of hostilities. As the war advanced perspectives and attitudes changed, a theme which will be developed in the subsequent exhibition.