New Exhibit: “1917: How One Year Changed the World”

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: January 30, 2017

1917: How One Year Changed the World, opening at the National Museum of American Jewish History on March 17 and at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York this fall, will examine how the dramatic events of a single year brought about changes in America that reverberated throughout the world and still impact us today. While the exhibition explores events from 100 years ago, it has direct ties to contemporary issues: immigration, national security, freedom of speech, Israel relations, and more.

1917 will focus on three key events: America’s entry into WWI, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the signing of the Balfour Declaration. The 100+ artifacts will include an original draft of the Balfour Declaration (never-before-exhibited in the US), the decoded Zimmermann Telegram, Irving Berlin’s draft card, possessions of WWI soldiers, an Uncle Sam costume, and much more.


New Exhibit: “World War I and American Art”

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: November 7, 2016

World War I and American Art

November 4, 2016—April 9, 2017

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
128 N. Broad St., Philadelphia

Coinciding with the centenary of America’s involvement with the war, World War I and American Art will be the first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists responded to the First World War.

The first major museum exhibition to revisit this unprecedented global event through the eyes of American artists, World War I and American Art will transform the current understanding of art made during the war and in its wake. The war’s impact on art and culture was enormous, as nearly all of the era’s major American artists interpreted their experiences, opinions and perceptions of the conflict through their work.

Note: PAFA is a Blue Star Museum and offers free admission to military families!

July 4th: Uncle Sam and Uncle Dan

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: July 1, 2016












The iconic 1917 United States Army recruiting poster done by James M. Flag – was based on the 1914 United Kingdom “Lord Kitchner Wants You” poster.















Currently displayed on the wall outside of Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library Rare Book Room, a reproduction of this poster shows “Uncle Sam” as a personified manifestation of the national identity.



p. 12, "The Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam"

p. 12, Uncle Sam, “The Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam”















p. 40, The Press Corrupted, The Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam

p. 40, The Press Corrupted, “The Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam”














Already widely deployed in popular imagery, as can be seen in the 1900 patriotic “The Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam“, available in Villanova University’s Digital Library,  who was this “Uncle Sam”  based upon?   Some researcher’s have identified Samuel Wilson; a more likely candidate however is “Dan Rice“.

David Carlyon in his 2001 biography Dan Rice: the most famous man you’ve never heard of, noted on page 411:

“Dan Rice is the closest thing America has had to an embodiment of Uncle Sam.  He traveled nearly all the country, and the country knew him as well as it knew anyone else.  His signature goatee and top hat made him an instantly recognizable symbol. … Mythic truth aside, Rice looked the part, or rather the part looked like him.  Top-hatted, goateed Uncle Sam could be a caricature of Rice, including those formal clothes.  Rice himself had adopted a visually patriotic image.  His Pictorial of 1858 pictured him in striped pants and a starred top, and his 1860 songster put him in another flag suit.  (That songster also included the lyrics to Rice’s song, “Uncle Sam,” to the tune of “Brother Jonathan.”) If American had an actual Uncle Sam, it was Dan Rice.”

In 1856,  ‘Uncle Dan” came to town.  As seen in the advertisement in the recently digitized Tuesday, August 26, 1856 issue of the National Defender, “Dan Rice’s Great Show!” was being exhibited in Norristown, Pottstown and Doylestown.




p. [3], National Defender, v. I, no. 3, Tuesday, August 26, 1856

p. [3], National Defender, v. I, no. 3, Tuesday, August 26, 1856
























Take a moment this July 4th and remember Dan Rice, “Uncle Dan”, the one-and-only true model for Uncle Sam!




p. 78, Uncle Sam demands his money back, "Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam"

p. 78, Uncle Sam demands his money back, “Fable of John Bull and Uncle Sam”





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Last Modified: July 1, 2016