Wartime Reading: The Library War Service

Poster used in A.L.A. Campaign for books, Camp Meade (165-WW-33D-5, NAID 20801784)

When America entered World War I in 1917, the American Library Association decided to take part in the war effort by establishing the Library War Service.  Its purpose was to provide library services to American soldiers in training camps and overseas.  The Association raised more than seven million dollars from donations, built 36 library camps, and distributed more than 500 million books and magazines to more than 500 locations throughout the United States and Europe.  Public libraries in different states participated in the drive as collection stations for books to be prepared for shipment as well as a place of organization for the war effort.

The American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs (165-WW, NAID 533461), in the custody of NARA’s Still Pictures Branch, contains photographic files of the Historic Branch, War Plans Division, War Department General Staff.  They were assembled by the Committee for Public Information and were considered the “Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs”.  They were obtained from several different sources, such as the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Federal and State government agencies, the American Red Cross, Central News and Photo Service, Western Newspaper Union, etc.  Within in the series, the photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject titles.  There are 22 file units entitled “American Library Association” with subjects such as “Campaigns”, “Dispatch (Distribution)”, “Camps by State”, “Posters”, etc.

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This series has been fully digitized and is made available through our online catalog with no copyright restrictions.

 

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