John Peter Ambuehl


John P. Ambuehl was killed in action in France in October 1918. Raised in Borup, Minnesota, Jack served as a machine gunner with the army. He was stationed at training camps in Indiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Long Island during the fall and winter of 1917-1918, and his many photographs capture his time there. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library recently finished processing the John P. Ambuehl Collection and has made the material available online. This collection includes the army notifications to his family concerning Jack’s death, as well as letter from a comrade describing how Jack was treated after his injury.






The pictures taken from an old photo album, with “Our Boys in Khaki” on the cover, make up some of the most interesting material from his collection.











They show images of soldiers in training, on leave, and passing the time in camp.


An avid photographer, Ambuehl often took pictures of soldiers and then sold them as a way to make money.


Included in the photo album were some pictures by William Ambuehl, his brother. Bill saw action when he served with the AEF in France and survived the war.


Check out the many treasures in the John P. Ambuehl Collection.



The Virginian

Wilson was still an infant, “very plump and fat and remarkably quiet,” when his father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, moved the family south from Staunton, Virginia to Augusta, Georgia in late 1857.  He spent his boyhood in Georgia, and in Columbia, South Carolina, coming of age eventually in Wilmington, North Carolina.  How then, did Staunton become home to Wilson’s Presidential Library? Continue reading

Is This Wilson?

Spiritualism drew a lot of attention from Americans in the decades between the Civil War and the Great Depression. Scientists, celebrities, and presidents all debated communication with spirits and many of them, like everyone else, visited mediums. In elaborate seances, people got the chance to talk to the departed dead. Some of the messages could be heartrending. Others had advise from historical figures. And many of the voices of the dead were just spooky. Continue reading

Women’s Work in Wartime

Just as they did famously during World War Two, American women took on more types of work during the Great War than most of them could find during times of peace. The country organized for the production of huge amounts of weapons and supplies, using as much labor as possible, while the conscription of men left many of their regular jobs short of workers. So, women had chances at new opportunities in the labor market. Many of these wartime jobs were not well-paid or particularly easy. They did, however, provide the opportunity for new experiences and better incomes. Continue reading