Tag Archives: World War I

Help Preserve and Protect N.C. Military History

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina has launched, through the institution’s nonprofit support organization, the “Preserve N.C. Military History” fundraising effort. The goal is to raise $9,500 to hire a contract archivist for 6 months or longer to help the Military Collection Archivist process, organize, describe, and make available a selection of over 75 feet of original military records and papers documenting North Carolina’s military history. 

The materials selected for this work document the home front in every North Carolina county during WWI and WWII, and cover a range of enlisted military personnel from the state in all military branches for multiple wars. These are the records needing the most archival work, and containing valuable historical information touching everyone in North Carolina.

Only the most basic descriptions exist for some collections, and in many cases no descriptions exist yet at all for new collections awaiting to be used by the public. The papers have not yet been indexed in any detail. The collections hold artwork, letters, home front materials, photographs, and posters—all created by or documenting North Carolinians from all over the state. Children’s WWII home front posters, photographs of Red Cross activities, and letters from a U.S. Navy sailor in the Pacific Theater, are just a sampling of what is included. The work will benefit the general public, scholars, teachers, schoolchildren, and anyone interested in the state’s military history.

We need your help to ensure that this work can be completed. Getting someone who has the training and experience needed to do this type of work is difficult unless he or she can be financially compensated, and we need the funds in order to do so. All of the money raised will go to pay for this contract archivist position.

Selected materials from this project will be digitized and made available to the public online in the North Carolina Digital Collections. Photographs from the collections will be put online through the State Archives’ Flickr page. Updates on the work will be posted regularly to the State Archives’ social media.

To support this fundraising effort, we ask you to spread the word about this through your social media, sharing it with anyone you think would be interested in supporting this significant work. You can donate money to the “Preserve N.C. Military History” GoFundMe page. Every little bit helps! Invest in the state’s proud military heritage, and ensure that future generations will learn of the sacrifices of its citizens in times of war.

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See World War I Materials at Alamance Community College on March 29

[This blog post comes from Sarah Koonts, Director of Archives and Records for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Isham B. Hudson's war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Isham B. Hudson’s war diary contains short entries covering his military unit’s movements throughout France in the fall of 1918 (Call number: WWI 49). Learn more about this item in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

One of the most rewarding experiences as State Archivist is the development of special exhibits utilizing a few unique original materials from our collections.  We develop these special exhibits on occasion to partner with a local historical society, museum, or historic site, often to promote a specific anniversary or event.  This year we are thrilled to offer a special exhibit with one of our favorite partners, Alamance Community College.  We invite you to join us March 29 for a full slate of programming around the centennial of World War I.

Held at the main building on the Carrington-Scott Campus of Alamance Community College (1247 Jimmie Kerr Road in Graham), the special exhibit will be held from 9 a.m.—5 p.m. on March 29.  Due to the number of school groups scheduled for the morning, the public is encouraged to consider an afternoon visit, if possible.  During the event, you can see some World War I materials from our military collections, a traveling exhibit about North Carolina and the Great War, and speak with costumed living- history specialists interpreting military service from the period.In addition, there will be soldier, nurse, and Red Cross uniforms on display from the Haw River Museum, Alamance County Historical Association, and the Women Veterans Historical Project from UNC, Greensboro.  Kids can join in the fun by coloring their own WWI poster and participating in other activities throughout the building.

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

A group of five young women wearing work overalls and caps, standing outside in front of a building at the Wiscassett Mills in Albemarle, N.C. These women replaced male mill workers sent to fight in World War I. (Call number: WWI 2.B11.F7.1)

We enjoy taking our treasures out to locations outside of Raleigh.  It is fun to share our collections and explain a little more about what we do at the State Archives.  North Carolina has a rich military history and our World Ward I materials are among the most prized.  Come visit Alamance Community College on March 29 to learn more about that history from 100 years ago.

Friends of the Archives Hosts “North Carolina and WWI” Event June 19

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release. You can find other press releases on http://www.ncdcr.gov.]

Logo for North Carolina and World War IRaleigh, N.C. – One hundred years ago, America entered the Great War and thousands of North Carolinians answered the call to serve their country at home and overseas.

To commemorate the centennial of the war, the Friends of the Archives will sponsor “North Carolina and World War I,” presented by Jackson Marshall, historian and deputy director of the North Carolina Museum of History. The free, public program will be held in the State Archives/Library Building, 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, June 19 at 1 p.m.

After his talk, Marshall will lead a tour of the World War I exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History located across Jones St. from the Archives Building. The 6,500-square-foot exhibition highlights artifacts, period photography, a trench diorama, historical film footage, educational interactive components, and video re-enactments that feature European and North Carolina soldiers and citizens to relate the stories of ordinary men and women from North Carolina who provided extraordinary service to their country 100 years ago.

Marshall is a native North Carolinian and the grandson of a World War I soldier. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Wake Forest University and is the author of “Memories of World War I.”

About the Friends of the Archives
The Friends of the Archives is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization formed in 1977 to privately fund some of the services, activities and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding.  The mission of the State Archives is to collect, preserve and provide access to North Carolina’s documentary history and culture.

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. 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 www.ncdcr.gov.

World War I Wednesday

World War I poster: "Join the Air Service and Serve in France--Do it Now"

World War I poster: “Join the Air Service and Serve in France–Do it Now” (MilColl.WWI.Posters.10.43). Available online through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

April 6, 2017 marked the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. This summer several North Carolina institutions are teaming up to share World War I history through social media. Every Wednesday from June through August, they will post information about items from their collections using the hashtag #WWIWednesday.  The groups taking part include:

  • State Archives of North Carolina (@NCArchives)
  • State Library of North Carolina (@ncpedia)
  • NC Digital Heritage Center (@ncdhc)
  • Wilson Library (@WilsonLibUNC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • North Carolina Collection (@NCCollection) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Each month will have a theme:

  • June: The Homefront
  • July: Soldiers, Sailors, and Combat
  • August: Women and Nursing during World War I

Other Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (@ncculture) World War I content is also available on social media using the hashtag #NCWW1 and through the blog “North Carolina in World War I.”

Follow the conversation on social media this summer to learn more about North Carolina’s role in World War I.

Postcard with caption "When shall we meet again"

Postcard: “When shall we meet again,” addressed to Warren McNeill, Sept. 14, 1918. From the Warren C. McNeill Papers, part of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina. Available online through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Join Us for World War I Social Media Day on April 11

Seven smiling French and American soldiers

Seven smiling French and American soldiers. From the George W. McIver Papers, World War I Papers, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina. Available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Smithsonian is coordinating a World War I social media day on April 11, 2017. On that day, they plan to host Q&As, pop quizzes, and other online events while joining with institutions like the Presidential Libraries and the National Park Service to post content related to World War I. A schedule of events is available through the National Museum of American History’s website.

The Smithsonian has also invited other libraries, archives, and museums from around the world to join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms using the hashtag #WorldWar1. The State Archives of North Carolina (@NCArchives) and the State Library of North Carolina (@ncpedia) plan to take part, as do several of our sister institutions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the NC Digital Heritage Center (@ncdhc), Wilson Library (@WilsonLibUNC), and the North Carolina Collection (@NCCollection).  Other Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (@ncculture) institutions will likely participate as well, which means there should be quite a bit of North Carolina content available on that day.

So please join us on Wednesday, April 11 to learn more about World War I!

Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

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Interpreting the North Carolina World War I Service Cards

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

World War I service card for William Crittenden

World War I service card for William Crittenden.

The North Carolina WWI Service Cards are now available online for free through the joint efforts of FamilySearch and the State Archives of North Carolina. These cards were originally prepared after World War I by the U.S. War Department for use by the North Carolina Adjutant General’s office. The WWI Service Cards report on men and women who claimed residency in North Carolina and who served in official military capacities—including nurses, medics, and chaplains—during World War I. The cards include such information as name, military service number, home town, age or birth date, place and date of induction, units in which served, ranks held, dates of overseas service, and date of discharge from active military service.

However, the cards can be difficult to interpret, as numerous individuals were involved in creating the cards, and several different formats of both cards and information were used by the War Department. Also, the cards were created as two separate sets based on division of military branches. One set of cards includes individuals who served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Air Service (or also called the Army Air Force informally at the time, which is the precursor of today’s U.S. Air Force), and U.S. Marine Corps. The other set of cards includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. This is important to understand, as there are different abbreviations and formats for the different card sets. Navy and Coast Guard service cards are large and contain more detailed service information than those of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

At the time of the War Department’s production of the cards, they created a 13-page list of abbreviations and their meanings as utilized on the cards. The State Archives is posting this list so that the public can understand the service history more completely when they access the online cards. Even with this list of abbreviations, it is still confusing to understand the context of the service history. In the course of my work with the Military Collection at the State Archives, I have had to learn how to interpret the cards’ information accurately, and would like to share a tutorial on using the cards.

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