State Archives Digitizes Records of World War I Combat and Civilian Experiences

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on]

Rowan County Red Cross Nurses, 1918

Rowan County Red Cross Nurses, 1918. See this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Raleigh, N.C. – Letters recounting the full military experience of North Carolina Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force service members, one-of-a-kind American Red Cross chapter unit histories and a three volume history of the North Carolina Council of Defense – which managed rationing and War Savings Stamps – are among the many World War I era documents being digitized by the State Archives of North Carolina.

The initiative of the Military Collection of the State Archives will digitize original World War I historic materials documenting North Carolinians’ role in the war at home and abroad. This project is part of North Carolina’s commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I. The materials were collected during and after the war and are housed in the WWI Papers at the State Archives.

Unique materials touching on all parts of the state’s involvement in the war effort between 1917 and 1919 will be digitized. The Red Cross records name women who served the effort in the state’s towns and counties. Reports from the horrific Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and other hardships will be recounted.

Pocket diaries and journals with dated entries from North Carolina service members that document experiences from basic training, movement in Europe and the return home will be digitized, as will draft registration posters from 1917 and other home front posters. Digitization of the previously unpublished history of the North Carolina Council of Defense, compiled by famed state geologist and WWI veteran Joseph Hyde Pratt, will make available all aspects of North Carolina’s involvement and response to the war effort.

“It is vital for the State Archives to expand the user base for materials we have held for the public’s use since World War I,” says Military Collection Archivist Matthew Peek. “Many of these have seen little use for scholarly research, and few people were aware of their existence. We hope this project will help North Carolinians gain a broader understanding of the cultural, social and economic impact of World War I on the state.”

The WWI digitization effort will continue through 2018 as part of public programming by the State Archives to bring original WWI materials to a wider audience in support of public research and to provide resources for schools.

The newly-digitized materials are online in the North Carolina Digital Collections website, under World War I collection, at New materials will be continually added.

For additional information please call project director Matthew Peek at (919) 807-7314. The Military Collection is part of the State Archives within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to

experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit