With the anniversary of the United States involvement in World War I approaching, here is a list of material recently uploaded to the World War I digital collection:
History of the North Carolina Council of Defense: 1917-1920, v.1-3, Joseph Hyde Pratt
In an attempt to garner a united national support for the United States’ involvement with the World War I effort, the U.S. Congress created the Council of National Defense with the passage of the Army Appropriation Act (39 Stat. 649) (also called the National Defense Act of 1916) on August 29, 1916. The Council of National Defense was a presidential advisory board that included six members of the President’s Cabinet: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker (chairman of the Council); Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; Secretary of Agriculture David Houston; Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane; Secretary of Commerce William Redfield; and Secretary of Labor William Wilson. The Council’s responsibilities included “coordinating resources and industries for national defense” and “stimulating civilian morale.” As President Woodrow Wilson said of the Council: “The Council of National Defense has been created because Congress has realized that the country is best prepared for war when thoroughly prepared for peace.” The work of the Council grew more significant when the United States entered World War I in 1917. The federal government held a conference on May 2, 1917, in Washington, D.C., to facilitate the organization of state councils of defense, to which Joseph Hyde Pratt, state geologist, was appointed to represent North Carolina. The federal government used the conference to ask state governors to create their own local councils of defense to support the national war effort, with the goal being to cooperate with other state councils and the federal government in organizing and directing the resources of states, making them available and effective for national use. The state councils would also recommend changes in state laws to state legislatures, with the goal of the changes aimed at increasing the nation’s ability to respond to the needs of the war effort. At the start of America’s entrance into the war, the Council coordinated resources and industries for national defense; stimulated civilian morale; coordinated the work of state and local defense councils and women’s committees; and later studied problems of post-war readjustment of soldiers to civilian life and reconstruction of the nation’s infrastructure. The Council of National Defense ceased its operations in June 1921. The History of the North Carolina Council of Defense, 1917-1920, written and compiled by Joseph Hyde Pratt, provides detailed information about the purpose, organization and inner-workings of North Carolina’s Council of Defense.
Red Cross histories: Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Burke, Chatham, Cleveland, Cumberland, Currituck, Gaston, Guilford, McDowell, Moore, Onslow, Orange, Pitt, Randolph, Stanly, Vance, Wake, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes.
Correspondence written by John B. Exum, Jr. while he served during the war. Exum, Jr. writes almost exclusively to his mother about where he is stationed, what the conditions are like where he is, if he has seen any Wayne County boys, and what he is experiencing in Europe during his service.
Thomas “Jack” Pinkney Shinn, born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina and raised in Kannapolis, served in World War I as an Army infantryman. Shinn recorded his experiences and unit’s movements through the end of 1918 in this diary. Accurately capturing the life of an Army soldier on the frontline during the Great War, Shinn provides the personal insight of a North Carolinian faced with soldierly monotony and the horrors of the trenches.
Correspondence written by James G. Lane while stationed stateside during WWI in 1918. They include letters written to his sister, Bessie E. Lane, his father, and his grandfather, about his experiences in the Navy and his views on the war in Europe. Lane held the rank of Quartermaster First Class (Aviation), and was stationed stateside at various U.S. Navy training installations throughout his service.
Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918. He notes his role in the Battle of St. Mihiel in September 1918 briefly in reserve forces, and discusses hearing the news of the Armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. More than half of Hudson’s diary details his experience in terms of weeks documenting his role with the Allied occupation of Europe from December 1918 through April 1919. The back of Hudson’s diary features short poems he wrote and those he took from other sources, as well as names and information on friends and fellow soldiers.