As some of you may recall, this spring Fletcher Warren (’15) and Prof. Chris Gehrz became our department’s first Edgren Scholars. They’re spending the summer collaborating on a digital history project: a website exploring how the people of Bethel have experienced the century of warfare extending from 1914 (the year World War I began and Bethel settled permanently in St. Paul) to the present day.

The final website won’t debut until the fall, but in the meantime, Fletcher and Chris have been posting regular updates through their project blog.

Screenshot of the Bethel at War blog

Why do this? From Chris’ post introducing the blog:

While the project is under construction, we’ll use this blog to share our questions, reflections, and observations, and to preview our work. When complete, the blog will serve as a kind of document itself.

Recent posts have addressed the relative lack of attention paid to warfare in the historiography of Bethel, the use of patriotic rhetoric and symbolism to support Bethel fundraising during WWII, and how WWI did or didn’t accelerate “Americanization” among the Swedes of Bethel Academy and Seminary and the Dutch of Calvin College.

But the blog is also meant to invite you into the project:

…the blog also gives you a chance to help shape the project! Please let us know what you think, either leaving comments on the blog or e-mailing us at

• How would you answer the questions we’re posing? What other questions should we ask?

• What strikes you about the sources we’re curating?

• Do you have your own memories of these wars and how they connect to the history of education and religion in this country?

So please check out the Bethel at War blog and share your memories, perspectives, and other feedback! (In addition to e-mail and blog commenting, Twitter users can also respond using the hashtag #bethelatwar.)

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