From Ohio History Central
War I, ca. 1917-1918.
During World War I, the United States and its allies were fighting against Germany and its allies in Europe. As a result, anti-German sentiment developed in Ohio and across the nation during 1917 and 1918. Being anti-German became a way of showing patriotism for the American war effort, but many Ohioans began to target German-Americans in their zeal to promote patriotism.
Government actions promoted some anti-German activities, such as Ohio's Americanization Committee. Governor James M. Cox originally created the Americanization Committee to promote American values and the teaching of the English language to immigrants who wanted to become American citizens. Raymond Moley, a professor at Western Reserve College, was the chair of the committee. Members of the committee were soon influenced by anti-German sentiment and began to enlarge their responsibilities to include censorship of German literature as well. Committee members sometimes recommended removing "pro-German" books from libraries during the war. The committee also published a list of "approved books" that were not considered to be "pro-German."
Towns like Cincinnati, which had a number of streets with German names, chose to rename them during the war. The community of New Berlin changed its name to North Canton to show its patriotism. The state legislature passed the Ake Law, which banned the teaching of the German language in all schools below the eighth grade. Anyone who was suspected of being sympathetic to the German cause was treated badly by fellow Ohioans. Because there was a significant German-American population living in Ohio during World War I, anti-German sentiment was a serious problem. Many Ohioans assumed that people of German descent, conscientious objectors, and those who were not in favor of the war were traitors, even if there was no evidence to support those assumptions.
- Keegan, John. The First World War. New York, NY: A.A. Knopf, 2001.
- Keene, Jennifer. The United States and the First World War. New York, NY: Longman, 2000.