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an8312098Contemporary painting of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919.

Kluge Center Symposium Marks the Centennial of the Paris Peace Conference 

By Benny Seda-Galarzi
Library of Congress

On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress will host a panel discussion to mark the 100th anniversary of the Paris Peace Conference, “The United States and the World: Legacies of the Paris Peace Conference.” The symposium will be held at 3 p.m. in room LJ-119 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

downloadFree tickets are available for this event, but not required. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit this event ticketing site,, for more information and to secure your ticket. Entry is not guaranteed.

This discussion will explore the legacies of a pivotal period in world history, including themes of Wilsonianism, the ideological origins of the United Nations, the projection of American power and a new international order.

The panelists for the discussion are:

  • Harold James, Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European studies, Princeton University.
  • Charles Kupchan, Senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of international affairs, Georgetown University.
  • Margaret MacMillan, Professor of history, University of Toronto and former warden, St. Antony's College, Oxford University.
  • Michael Neiberg, Chair of war studies, U.S. Army War College.

Before the panel discussion, attendees are invited to view key items which provide additional context about the U.S. role in facilitating the end of the war. These are included in the Library’s “Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I” exhibition. The exhibition is housed on the Southwest Gallery on the second floor of the Jefferson Building and closes on January 21, 2019.

Highlighted items of the exhibition include:

Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points”: Long before the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson advocated a peace settlement in Europe based on what he viewed as sound principles and humane justice. Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” address of January 8, 1918, in which he laid out a vision of a peaceful international order, was one of his most famous speeches.

A Seat at the Table: Woodrow Wilson attended the Paris Peace Conference in person, arriving in France in December 1918 – the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office. Wilson hoped his presence at the conference would increase the United States’ influence in shaping the postwar peace. Documenting the conference, photojournalist Helen Johns Kirtland captured members of a committee of Allied nations, including Wilson at right, intently reading documents related to the proposed treaty.

The Pan-African Conference: During the war, the interaction of African colonial troops and black American soldiers helped to establish a distinct strain of pan-African politics. NAACP co-founder and civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois and Senegalese official Blaise Diagne organized the Pan-African Conference of February 1919.

Nobel Peace Prize: On December 11, 1920, the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament awarded Woodrow Wilson the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in creating the League of Nations, despite the fact that the United States had failed to join the League or ratify any of the peace treaties that incorporated the League Covenant in their terms. The prize recognized Wilson’s vision of a new world order guided by an international organization through which nations could resolve disputes and maintain world peace.

The Kluge Center’s mission, as established in 2000, is to “reinvigorate the interconnection between thought and action,” bridging the gap between scholarship and policymaking. To that end, the Center brings some of the world’s great thinkers to the Library to make use of the Library collections and engage in conversations addressing the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

IMG 0445 1024x695The Kluge Center at the Library of Congress