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WWI and the Introduction of the Fossil Fuel Era

January 22, 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Presented in partnership with the National WWI Museum and Memorial
and the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home.

The program will be held at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Missouri.

The lecture

As a commodity, ‘black gold’ reached 1900 in a most precarious situation. Across a spectrum of compounding uses, the tipping point to alter petroleum’s status was the Great War. Of the many transitions that World War I marked for human civilization, its role as the gateway to an energy-intensive life might be the most far-reaching. At a time when we knew little about the implications of burning fossil fuels on the environment and climate, the use of petroleum products on the battlefield altered basic expectations of time and space and its expanded use was considered essential to progress.

The speaker

Dr. Brian C. Black’s research emphasis is on the landscape and environmental history of North America, particularly in relation to the application and use of technology. His first book, Crude Reality, used the Pennsylvania oil boom of the 1860s as a case study of rapid industrialization in the post-bellum U. S., the cultural history of petroleum use in the 20th century, and what it reveals about American environmental ethics and preferences. He has examined America’s dramatic shift in industrial intensity during the Civil War era as well as the impact of modernism and land-use planning on the modern environmental movement. Professor Black received his doctorate in American Studies from the University of Kansas in 1996. As one of the faculty who spearheaded the creation of an Environmental Studies major at Penn State Altoona, he currently serves as the head of the Arts and Humanities Division.

Admission tickets

The event is free and open the public. To register, please visit the National WWI Museum and Memorial website. The program will be held at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.


This program is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Its content is solely the responsibility of the Linda Hall Library.


January 22
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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Eric Ward


National WWI Museum and Memorial
2 Memorial Drive
Kansas City, MO 64108
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Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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