Friday, September 26, 2014

The Charles S. Stevenson Collection

Charles  in Olathe, Kansas
dated October 1917
With a page-count over 500, including correspondence and photographs, the Charles S. Stevenson Collection at the National World War I Museum is difficult to miss.  From training at Camp Funston, Kansas, to service overseas, Charles rarely missed an opportunity to write to his family at home.  Project staff could not pass up the opportunity to digitize this wide-ranging and sometimes humorous collection.  This post, concentrating on his activities while in training stateside, will be the first of two posts concerning the service of Charles S. Stevenson.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Memorial Tablet Honor Roll Committee and the Missouri Historical Society Mortality Committee

Ceremony, Memorial Park Cemetery, July 25, 1920
On August 21, 1918, Mayor Henry W. Kiel of St. Louis appointed a committee of women to assist in collecting the biographical and service information of World War I veterans.  Mrs. Ben F. Gray, a member of the Missouri Historical Society, led the Committee, and  the Society's archivist, Nettie Beauregard,  served as the 2nd Vice President.  The Memorial Tablet Honor Roll Committee was composed of members of patriotic historical societies and war relief auxiliaries from St. Louis City and County. The committee was very active and participated in several events to acknowledge those who served in the War.  They arranged a memorial service held on Art Hill in Forest Park; gathered names for a parchment record of servicemen and women who died in the war to be placed in the cornerstone of the monument in Memorial Park Cemetery. Also, they raised money to purchase a Memorial Honor Roll Tablet honoring the deceased servicemen and women.

Program for Memorial Service held June 15,1919, on Art Hill in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Friday, September 12, 2014

"We Made the World Safe?" The WWI Memoir of Rudolph Forderhase

Rudolph Forderhase
In We Made the World Safe? Howard County, Missouri, native Rudolph Forderhase recalls his experiences serving with the 89th Division during World War I.  Spanning September 21, 1918, through June 10, 1919, Forderhase describes in vivid detail his experiences during the draft, basic training, service in the 89th Division, and occupation in Europe after the war. The memoir has been chosen for digitization and will be available online this spring.

The Forderhase memoir has been cited in multiple works, including: 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour by Joseph Persico; Military Service, Combat, and American Identity in the Progressive Era by Sebastian Hubert Lukasik; To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918 by Edward G. Lengel; The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I by Thomas Fleming; and The Greatest Day in History: How, on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day the First World War Finally Came to an End by Nicholas Best.

Several artifacts of Forderhase's are currently on display in the main corridor gallery at the State Historical Society of Missouri - Columbia, including his gas mask, his helmet emblazoned with the 89th Division logo, and his mess kit. The exhibit, entitled Missouri and World War I, examines the Great War's impact on Missourians' daily lives through photographs, correspondence, artifacts, and more, that provide firsthand accounts of Missourian experiences, both on the home front and abroad.

The most riveting and frequently cited portion of the Forderhase memoir provides an account of the action during the Meuse Argonne Offensive and the events occurring on Armistice Day. We have included an excerpt below.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frank X. Fraas Collection

Frank Fraas
Frank Fraas, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, served as part of the 129th Field Artillery, 35th Division during World War I.  Fraas enlisted in May of 1917 and served overseas from May 20, 1918 through October 7, 1918.  Fraas died on October 7, 1918 from wounds received in action.  In the summer of 1931, Agnes Fraas, Frank’s mother, traveled to France as part of the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage to visit the grave of her son.  This collection includes correspondence sent from Frank and various soldiers to the Fraas family during the war, and a series of documents related to Agnes Fraas’ journey to France as a Gold Star Mother.

Friday, August 29, 2014

R. Ritchie Robertson

R. Ritchie Robertson is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in Springfield’s musical history. As director of the local Boy Scout Band, he was prominently featured in a large reunion of the 35th Division in Springfield, on September 29 and 30, 1928. Held on the tenth anniversary of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the largest American operation of the war, the guest of honor was General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Black Archives of Mid-America

East side of the Horace M. Peterson III Building
The Black Archives of Mid-America, Inc. was founded May 8, 1974, by Horace M. Peterson III and was originally located at 1821 Paseo Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri, in an old Y.M.C.A. building. The purpose and mission of the Black Archives of Mid-America “is to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African American descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri region. Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

The WWI Diary of Captain Levi H. Fuson of Base Hospital 21

In 1915, Levi H. Fuson was one of 29 to graduate from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Of the 29 graduates, 24 went on to serve in World War I as commissioned medical officers. Fuson was the only member of his class to serve with Base Hospital 21.  The Base Hospital was founded and staffed by Washington University,  and was one of six base hospitals that were selected for mobilization by the U.S. Government to support the British troops. Fuson's papers, which detail his experiences while serving with Base Hospital 21, have been recently digitized by project staff.  The papers, which are located at the Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University Medical School, include a diary, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other documentation. The highlight of the papers is Fuson's  167 page diary.  In addition to writing about his observations and experiences in the diary, Fuson detailed the personal stories and injuries of the soldiers he treated.   Below is an excerpt from the Diary dated June 28, 1917, in which he described the events of a typical day in the hospital. Interspersed in this diary entry is valuable information about the life of a soldier on the battlefield.