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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

German Propaganda Leaflets

Leaflets of German propaganda were distributed to American troops through air drops as a form of psychological warfare during World War I. Aerial leaflets were used on a large scale by all forces during the war - by the end of the war, British military intelligence had distributed approximately 26 million of them, and the U.S. Air Service 3 million.

These two German leaflets were picked up by American soldier George Archer, who mailed them to Catherine Luckett of St. Louis, Missouri. The collection, which also contains French currency and a welcome letter from King George V of England to American troops, is available at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Friday, August 1, 2014

35th Division Signal Corps Photos

Project Staff recently scanned a collection of Signal Corps photographs of the 35th Division from the Springfield-Greene County Library. The images include both infantry and artillery units from the 35th Division. The 35th Division was composed entirely of units from the Missouri and Kansas National Guard. They trained in Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma, and were sent to France in the spring of 1918. The division was first assigned to a relatively quiet sector in the Vosges Mountains and was held in reserve during the St. Mihiel Offensive before joining the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26, 1918. The 35th Division fought for five days in the Argonne Forest before being relieved by the 1st Division and transferred to the Verdun Sector.