UNDATED – The June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary throne, was the catalyst that started World War I. Initially a local European conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, it soon transformed into a global war that involved 32 nations.
For almost three years the United States maintained a neutral stance, but following continued hostile actions by Germany against America, a declaration of war against Germany was signed by President Woodrow Wilson on April 6, 1917.
Indianapolis lawyer Joe Rand Beckett, who was born in 1891 and died in 1969, was one of the more than 135,000 Hoosiers that served in World War I. He enlisted in the army and was commissioned a lieutenant in the 326th Field Artillery. He was promoted to captain in August 1918 and served overseas in France. For several years after the war, he was active in the Reserve and attained the rank of major. He also served as assistant Indiana attorney general in 1926 and 1927 and was the state senator for Marion and Johnson Counties in 1929 and 1931.
The Joe Rand Beckett Collection (S0091) includes correspondence, clippings, photographs, and military records of Beckett. The collection is available to view in the Indiana State Library Digital Collections here. To view other material related to World War I, click here.