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.