WWI: The War to End All Wars - Featured Items from Randall Library Special Collections

Lauren Love is an intern working in Special Collections


July 28th marked the 100th year since the start of WWI. Selected items from the war years held at the UNCW Randall Library Special Collections will be highlighted in this blog post. For information about additional collections and books relating to WWI please browse the Special Collections and UNCW Archives website.

Harmon C. Rorison Private Papers, 1903 - 1976
 

A banker in peace times, Harmon C. Rorison grew up in Wilmington and was a veteran of WWI, the Russian-Polish war, and WWII. This collection (MS 17) includes riveting correspondence sent home by Rorison while he was in the Kosciuszko Squadron fighting against the Bolshiviks. Below is a scanned image of a newspaper from the day WWI officially ended.

The Wilmington Dispatch - November 11, 1918 - Great War is Ended Today
                                                                  The Wilmington Dispatch Front Page - November 11, 1918


 

TAPS: Selected Poems of the Great War (1932) 

Compiled by Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and Grantland Rice this work includes a small amount of illustrations by Captain John Thomason. Taps is part of our rare book collection and is in excellent condition. The poems within are written by mothers, lovers, soldiers and fathers; they shed light on the emotional state of the various peoples touched by WWI.

                                  

Front of TAPS by Roosevelt and Rice                   Dreamers

Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
     Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
     Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
     Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
     They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats
     And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
     And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
     And going to the office in the train.
                                               

              Siegfried Sassoon

 

 

                       No Man's LandIllustration by Captain John Thomason for No Man's Land

                    No Man's Land is an eerie sight                   
                    At early dawn in the pale gray light.
                    Never a house and never a hedge
                    In No Man's Land from edge to edge,

                    And never a living soul walks there
                    To taste the fresh of the morning air;-
                    Only some lumps of rotting clay,
                    That were friends or foemen yesterday.
                    What are the bounds of No Man's Land?
                    You can see them clearly on either hand,
                    A mount of rag-b ags gray in the sun,
                    Or a furrow of brown where the earthworks run

                    From the eastern hills to the western sea
                    Through field or forest o'er river and lea; 
                    No man may pass them, but aim you well
                    And Death rides across on the bullet or shell

                    But No Man's Land is a goblin sight
                    When Patrols crawl over at dead o'night;
                    Boche or British, Belgian or French,
                    You dice with Death when you cross the trench.
                    When the "rapid," like fireflies in the dark,
                    Flits down the parapet spark by spark,
                    And you drop for cover to keep your head
                   With your face on the breast of the four months' dead.

                   The man who ranges in No Man's Land
                   Is dogged by the shadows on either hand
                   When the star-shell's flare, as it bursts o'erhead,
                   Scares the gray rats that feed on the dead,
                   And the bursting bomb or the bayonet-snatch
                   May answer the click of your safety-catch,
                   For the lone patrol, with the life in his hand,
                   Is hunting for blood in No Man's Land.

                                     James H. Knight-Adkin


 

Sidney Gardner MacMillan Private Papers, 1918-1919

For any student or researcher interested in WWI, the correspondence of Sidney G. MacMillan are a worthy investigation. His letters detail the daily life of an American soldier during the last years of the war and are very detailed and beautifully written. Included in the collection are five postcards from France, two of which are shown below.

 

Côte-d'Or  -  Quemigny-sur-Seine  -  Cascade de la RocheCôte-d'Or  -  Pothières  -  Le Château


 

The Yellow Dog (1918) 

A  story of fiction filled with the rhetoric of war and patriotism, this book was written by Henry Irving Dodge and published in 1918. 

 

Dust jacket of The Yellow Dog by Henry Irving Dodge


 

Colored Soldiers by W. Irwin MacIntyre

A collection of first hand accounts from African American soldiers during the war written in the vernacular of those telling the stories. Some of the accounts are humorous while others shed light on what the war years were like for some of America's non-white population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sources can be accessed by visiting Randall Library Special Collections:
  • Dodge, Henry Irving. The Yellow Dog. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1918. Print.
  • Harmon C. Rorison Private Papers, 1903-1976. Special Collections and Archives, Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
  • MacIntyre, William Irwin. Colored Soldiers. Macon: The J.W. Burke Company, 1923. Print.
  • Roosevelt Jr., Theodore, and Grantland Rice. TAPS: Selected Poems of the Great War. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company Inc., 1932. Print.
  • Sidney Gardner MacMillan Private Papers, 1918-1919. Special Collections and Archives, Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Document Provides Historical Insight to Wilmington Artists

 

Lauren Love is an intern working in Special Collections.


While reformatting the finding aid for the collection of St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church (also known as MS 180) an excellent piece of Wilmington art history was spotted. The small booklet from 1943 was created for “An Artistic Banquet” held at the Church of the Covenant just before it was merged with St. Andrews in 1944.

Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration booklet published 1943

                                                    The Church of the Covenant

Before I continue, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Lauren Love and this summer I am interning in the Special Collections department of UNCW Randall Library. So far I have been buried, nose first, in MS 180 only briefly coming up for air to help move furniture and prepare for spring cleaning project which has taken over our domain (more on that in the future!).

Front cover of An Artistic BanquetBack page of An Artistic Banquet pamphlet

Initially I was struck by the hand painted illustration on the cover of the booklet whose colors contrasted so sharply with the stale yellow of ageing paper. To satisfy my curiosity, I brought the find to my supervisor, Rebecca Baugnon. “Claude Howell!” she said excitedly after flipping through to the last page; “Claude Howell?!” came the voice of Jerry Parnell, the Special Collections Coordinator from across the hall. One can imagine how my interest peeked at such reactions. Upon further inspection we found that the pamphlet was an itinerary of sorts for an educational art program where lessons in painting, watercolor, drawing and much more were offered to attendees. The investigation became an eye opening revelation about the history of Art culture in Wilmington and how, unbeknownst to me, I held in my hands a small booklet which contained the names of some local art heroes.

                   Irene Price 1930s, photograph from Two Centuries of Art in New Hanover County
                                                                  
by Crockette W. Hewlett

Unassumingly printed are the names of Peggy Hall, Claude Howell, Rosalie Oliver and Winona Gration. The details of how these artists contributed to the booklet is unknown but further research proved that they were students together under Irene Price and Delbert Palmer. Price was a friend of Elisabeth Augusta Chant who is partially responsible for encouraging and cultivating the art scene in Wilmington. Chant and Price both taught art classes in downtown Wilmington during the 1930s and went on to found and direct various programs and institutions while maintaining connections with some of the artists listed above. Simple though it may appear, the booklet shows the efforts of these budding artists to work with the community to foster a love of arts which we still see in our port city today.

Peggy Hall and students Claude Howell

                                                Peggy Hall with students 1941 (left), and Claude Howell (right)
                               Photographs from Two Centuries of Art in New Hanover County by Crockette W. Hewlett

Peggy Hall studied under Price and Chant and went on to become the director of the Wilmington Museum of Art, a museum which opened in 1940 and before World War II came to a close. She exhibited her work around the country and possessed a passion for art throughout her life.

Claude Howell would become a very influential artist who taught at UNCW and played a large role in the establishment of the Art Department. Some of his paintings are located on the first floor of the library near Port City Java and a beautiful collection of illustrated holiday cards are housed in the Special Collections Library upstairs.

Rosalie Oliver taught and spoke at the Wilmington Museum of Art.

Unfortunately I could not find any information on Winona Gration.


For more information come ask us about the following collections:
MS 063 – A Balkan Sketchbook by Claude Howell
MS 076 – Claude Howell – Classification of Art Prints
MS 326 – Claude Howell Christmas Cards

For a truly enlightening exploration of art in Wilmington read Two Centuries of Art in New Hanover County by Crockette W. Hewlett, both the pictures used in this blog post as well as the biographical information are from this thorough and entertaining book. 

Sources can be accessed by visiting Randall Library and the Special Collections Library therein:

  • An Artistic Banquet. Wilmington:  Church of the Covenant, 1943. Print. Box 10, Folder 3. St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church Collection. Randall Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. May 21, 2014.
  • Hewlett, Crockette W.. Two Centuries of Art in New Hanover County. Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 1976. Print.
  • Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration. Wilmington: Church of the Covenant, 1943. Print. Box 10, Folder 3. St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church Collection. Randall Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. May 21, 2014. 

 

USO Jacksonville, Special Collections in the News!

 

"USO service books index the military experience" reads the title of a recent article in the Jacksonville Daily Newspaper. The service books, less the current representations, mentioned in the article along with numerous photographs, publications, newspapers and various other forms material related to the the United Service Organization (USO) Jacksonville, are among the manuscript holdings in Randall Library's Special Collections. 

The service books include representation from every U.S. state and date back to the 1960s. Filled with thousands of intimate entries, these notebooks once served as main line of communication for troops to provide status updates during their service. The cardboard covers of older notebooks are often illustrated with doodles, city names, sports team insignia and state pride. The news article quotes Marisa Reeder, Jacksonville Center Assistant Director: 

"Having been to the University of North Carolina Wilmington to see the archives it just took my breath away. The decades-old service books transport readers to the past. The entries also help veterans track their fellow service members and allow them to leave a personal mark on the USO itself."

Special Collections received the archives of the USO Jacksonville center in 2011. The collection is being processed with the aid of UNCW Public History graduate assistants. For researchers interested in viewing the collection, please contact Special Collections staff.

 

Althouse, John. "USO service books index the military experience." Jacksonville Daily News 08 09 2013, n. pag. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.jdnews.com/news/military/uso-service-books-index-the-military experience-1.199642?page=2>.