TWINSBURG — Letters, photos, interviews and more bring the stories of Summit County residents impacted by World War I to life in the documentary "Lost Voices of the Great War."
This locally produced documentary, created by Toivo Motter, director of education at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, and Vic Fleischer, University Archivist and Head, archival services, from The University of Akron, was screened at the Twinsburg Public Library in November.
"It all started with a phone call," said Motter. "I was asked about what we wanted to do about the centennial of World War I."
World War I, then called The Great War, started in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb. It ended with Germany signing an Armistice document Nov. 11, 1918. The war officially ended at 11 a.m. that day.
The film started out as a five minute presentation, Motter said. This was so well received that it was later expanded to about 55 minutes. There also is a 3 1/2 minute special about the archives at The University of Akron, which contained much of the material used in the documentary. It premiered in October 2018. Motter called the work on the documentary "a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Fleischer said that 9,000 Akron men were selected for service, and 304 of them lost their lives.
Meanwhile, thousands of women living in Summit County worked in factories in place of men, as well as for the Red Cross and as nurses.
The documentary covers a variety of stories, from the soldiers and nurses who served overseas to the families and businesses at home. The documentary goes into the contributions of Frank A. Seiberling and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which Seiberling co-founded.
Fred Seiberling, the oldest son of Frank A. and Gertrude, fought in France from 1917 to 1918.
"One of the reasons to do this film was not only to honor these veterans but to highlight these resources we have," said Fleischer, speaking about the archives that The University of Akron maintains.
Fleischer said his team reached out to several communities, including Akron, Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Twinsburg, to find local stories. One was of Grace Goulder, a longtime Hudson resident and the first female journalist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. according to the documentary. She left her job and joined the YWCA in France during World War I. She would marry Robert Izant when they came back from Europe in 1919.
The documentary also told a bit about John P. Smith, who served overseas. When he came back, he moved to Cuyahoga Falls to live with his parents. He worked for the Cuyahoga Falls Sanatorium and later became an insurance agent. He died in 1975.
For details or to see the documentary, visit http://www.summitwwi.org/lost-voices online.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC