A Modern Battle Portrayed in Miniature

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: January 29, 2018

Broadside, “A Modern Battle Portrayed in Miniature”, 1920.














One family side show, The Millers Mechanical Shows, founded by John E. Miller and son Clifford M. Miller, traveled the United States showing their miniature reenactments, including their first act “Industrial City“, and later, in 1917 as American troops entered combat in Europe, “Battlefield” – a reenactment of World War I. They also documented the other acts that they traveled and performed with and the places that they visited ranging from Jacksonville, Key West, Daytona, and St Augustine in 1917, to Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, and even Regina, Saskatchewa, Canada. Newly digitized by the Digital Library at Villanova University this rich set of materials documents American circus life, travel and tourism, as well as the Great War!

Photograph, Miller’s Industrial City, [1917?]

A 1923, broadside describes the “Battlefield”, “500 miniature men, standing three and one-half inches high .. . The aeroplane is driven by its own motor, gaining its power from two collecting rings at top of roof. … The show consists of two Armies in combat on the slopes of two mountains which form a road way‘ through a French village; showing the frowning Forts of the Central Powers; the Allied armies are seen to the left. Both armies have their skirmish lines, first. Second and third line reserve trenches. The German soldiers have a gun that actually loads a shell every two minutes, a prison camp and inmates, gun repair shop, deserted coal mine … sentry on duty, Kaiser Bill and his staff, observation post, wireless aerial, remount station, field batteries, Machine gun nests and pillboxes, hospital. … It works in life movements, taking about forty-five minutes to view the three sides.”



Photograph, Miller’s Mechanical Battlefield











Photograph, John E. Miller holding dog













Ticket, Miller’s Mechanical Battlefield











Other acts included:

Photograph, “Part of R-R-R Russells – Roosterios – Rollickers,” Tullahoma, Tennessee, [1919].

Comptes Rendus (April-June, 1917)

  • Author: Andrew Mangravite
  • Published: June 26, 2017

Edward Thomas, poet. Died 9 April, 1917.

Edward Thomas was perhaps the best of the poets sometimes referred to as Georgians. These traditionalists shared a common love of nature and the English countryside. Although old enough to be excused from service, Thomas enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles where he achieved the rank of corporal before being commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery as a second lieutenant. Although listed as killed in action at the Battle of Arras in 1917, Thomas had survived the actual battle only to be struck down by the concussive blast of the of one of the last shells fired. It seems that he stood up to light his pipe.

Before the war Thomas had been friendly with the American poet Robert Frost and it’s said that Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” was addressed to Thomas and spurred his decision to enlist. His death was a great loss for English literature in general and for the Georgian school in particular. Had he survived the war, his gentle traditionalism and love of the land might have been a useful counterbalance to the surrealists of the 1930s.

Library Company of Philadelphia Book Club

  • Author: Nicole Joniec
  • Published: February 6, 2017


Wednesday, February 22, 2017, noon-1PM

Please join us for our inaugural book club meeting as we discuss the book Regeneration by Pat Barker. This highly acclaimed work of historical fiction explores the psychological effects of World War I and medical and mental health treatments during the era.

Register by clicking on link below:

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Last Modified: February 6, 2017