Home movie from 1917 shows Fargo-Moorhead amid patriotic fervor

Published: 23 April 2024

By Tracy Briggs
via the INFORUM website

Fargo 1917

An elevated view looking north on Broadway from the Northern Pacific Railway tracks of a WWI Welcome Home Parade in Fargo. Contributed/Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU (51.40.12)

Thousands dressed in red, white and blue gathered at Moorhead High School as U.S. entered WWI 107 years ago

MOORHEAD — Next time you’re at the McDonald’s on Moorhead’s Eighth Street and Second Avenue South, close your eyes and imagine what is was like in that very spot 107 years ago.

Inhale. As difficult as it is, try to ignore the smell of French fries. Instead, see if you can catch a whiff of ceremonial gunfire. Block out the whirring sounds of the McFlurry machine and strain to hear thousands of voices pledging their loyalty to the United States.

The date was April 23, 1917. About 2,000 people stood just across the avenue from today’s McDonalds. They were caught up in the patriotic fervor and excitement of what would come. Just 17 days earlier, the United States had formally entered World War I.

While you can’t hear these sounds, or smell these smells, you can see the action in a home movie of the gathering shot back then by Moorhead’s Dr. E.W. Humphrey, a surgeon and amateur film buff.

Retired Clay County Archivist Mark Peihl narrates the 13-minute film, which also includes scenes shot around town. They include visits to the campuses of Moorhead Normal School (Minnesota State University Moorhead) and Concordia College, as well as downtown scenes of a Fargo streetcar and crowds gathered at the stadium once home to the Fargo-Moorhead Twins baseball team.

The patriotic celebration on April 23, 1917, starts around the 6:35 mark of the YouTube clip.

A 1917 home movie

Before you watch this delightful old film, it helps to have a little background about why this celebration happened in the first place. America had just entered World War I, but clearly, the nation wasn’t ready.

Read the entire article on the INFORUM website here:

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