Additional State Agency Records
Division of Archives and History
A3166. Working Files for a Publication on New York in World War I, 1917-1925. 1.5 cubic feet
Arrangement: Arranged roughly by subject.
This series consists of correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports, clippings, copies of legislative bills, and occasional photographs concerning the participation of New York State residents in World War I. Also included are copies of war histories prepared by other states (and apparently used as models).
The files were collected by the State Historian, James Sullivan, in response to a joint resolution of the Senate and Assembly (1919) authorizing him to "collect, collate, compile, edit and prepare for publication sufficient material, statistics and data for a history of the State of New York in the World War...." To advance this work, Sullivan requested material from local defense councils, major manufacturers in the State, libraries and historical societies, and private citizens. He also contacted state war councils, libraries, historical surveys, and war history commissions nationwide to provide models for the publication and funding of the work. When the immense scope of the undertaking became clear, he lobbied the legislature for funds. No funds were appropriated for the work and it was never completed.
The files contain:
- information on New York's response to the Liberty Loan campaigns, and details on ship production in the State
- service data on New York residents who served in allied armies (especially Canadian and British)
- list of New York contractors for aircraft materials, giving name and address of contractor and type of article produced
- historical summaries of U.S. Army divisions' activities during the war
- report on the return of New York's war dead from Europe, and lists of Americans killed in action while serving with Canadian forces
- catalogs of American Expeditionary Force official photographs taken by the U.S. Signal Corps, Photographic Section
- copies of other states' reports on participation in the war (including California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia)
- a copy of the pamphlet "Canada's Part in the Great War" published by the Canadian Department of Public Information (1919)
- copies of legislation from other states authorizing war memorials
- minutes, correspondence, and reports of the National Association of State War History Organizations (James Sullivan served as president and member of the Executive Committee)
- extensive news clippings covering the publicity engagements and promotional talks by Sullivan, accounts of the New York dead and wounded as reported by the War Department, and reports on the unveiling of war memorials
- related memoranda, apparently originating with Sullivan, on cooperating with the Association of State War History Organizations to help with the work, promoting legislative appropriations to carry out the original joint resolution, coordinating volunteer aid through county publicity campaigns, and enlisting the support of the Commissioner of Education, John H. Finley
- a small amount of memoranda relating to an aborted War Department plan for a pictorial history of munitions production, and also on work of local councils of defense to produce community honor rolls
- correspondence with major New York manufacturers on providing summaries of their war work
- a small number of photographs, including individual portraits of uniformed soldiers (sometimes with a copy of service record attached) or scenes in the field
- some photostatic reproductions and a smaller amount of original material produced by Cuyler Reynolds, Albany City Historian, for his work on "Albany Heroes of the World War"
Finding aid: Folder list.
Arrangement: Alphabetical by county, then alphabetical by municipality.
This series primarily contains personal information, service data, newspaper clippings, and photographs of New York State veterans of World War I, and some accounts of home front activities in the State. Also included is a small amount of material documenting contributions toward the war effort by the State's schools, faculty, and students as well as war work done by units of the Education Department.
These records were collected by State Historians James Sullivan and Alexander C. Flick (from 1923) in response to a joint legislative resolution to prepare a history of the State of New York in the World War. Because no funds were appropriated for this work, the publication was never completed.
The State Historian relied on officially appointed local historians to collect and forward information relating to their communities' roles in the war. Only two-thirds of the State's communities provided the requested information, and very few veterans from New York City are represented in the series. There are no files for Bronx, Queens, or Richmond counties.
The contents of the files vary considerably, but each contains all or some of the following:
- list of soldiers from the community
- service record forms for each veteran, usually providing:
- place and date of birth
- parents' names and address
- date entered service
- drafted or enlisted
- military unit at entrance and discharge
- brief outline of service giving duty stations, combat experience, wounds and decorations received
- date, place, rank, and military unit at discharge or death
- narrative statements of individuals' war service by veterans or the local historian
- newspaper clippings documenting the return of soldiers, commemorative celebrations, or other soldier-related activities
- transcripts of original letters written by soldiers while in the service, some written from France
- photographs of soldiers, most in uniform and identified
- narrative written by the local historian describing home front activities in the community
- transcripts of community newspaper articles concerning local home front activities
- souvenir booklets or other items of memorabilia
- transmittal correspondence between the State Historian and the local historian
- information on nurses who served in the war
Photographs in the series are primarily portraits of soldiers in uniform, taken either formally in studio settings or informally as private snapshots in home-like surroundings. Some are of the souvenir variety taken overseas. A small number are of women in service. There are no scenes from the war front.
The final box of the series contains important additional material (correspondence, reports, lists, bulletins, pamphlets, books, and a few photographs) on New York State's contributions to the war. These materials provide information on:
- wartime activities of the State's schools, teachers, and pupils (e.g. Liberty Loan campaigns, Red Cross and civilian relief work, conservation activities, and work for base hospitals)
- war service of college and university students
- wartime activities, especially through the Bureau of Educational War Service, of the Regents and the Education Department, including specific projects of the Division of Archives and History, the State Museum, and the State Library
- the reorganization of New York State troops in the federal service, including
transcribed extracts from military cables and communiques (May 1917-December
1918) on deployment and military actions of New York components of the American
Expeditionary Force (the 77th, 42nd, 78th, and 27th Divisions)
Copies of several noteworthy works are also found with this material:
- a research paper, New York State "Boys" in the War: A Report of Impressions Gathered From Sorting and Reading Soldiers' Letters of the World War During the Summers of 1934 and 1935, prepared for Alexander Flick using materials collected by the Division of Archives and History
- a 1920 book, The New York Hospital in France: Base Hospital No. 9, A.E.F., a historical diary of the New York Hospital Unit during its two years of active service in the war
- a 1920 booklet, Army Ordnance: History of District Offices - New York, a detailed account of the organization, activities, and production (including statistics) of the New York District of the Army Ordnance Department
Researchers may consult Alexander Flick's 10 volume History of the State of New York (1933), available at the New York State Library, for a review of New York's civilian and military efforts in World War I.
An online finding aid to the records is available. This series has been microfilmed, and is available for use onsite or through interlibrary loan. In addition, New York State residents may access the records via Ancestry.com New York.
Arrangement: Arranged roughly by topic.
The series contains correspondence, unpublished historical articles, notes, clippings, photographs, posters, and a few original or photostatic copies of historical documents collected by the State Historian in the course of research on historical topics. The subjects of these files vary widely.
Material on New York's participation in World War I, and life on the homefront during the war era is found in accretions A3167-78 and A3167-78A. Examples include:
- circulars from the New York State Food Supply Commission advocating patriotic agricultural practices (May 1917)
- copies of organization charts of the Resource Mobilization Bureau
- materials issued by the National Security League's Committee on Patriotism Through Education (1917) to promote patriotism and national efficiency by affecting public opinion through the press, educators, and preparing printed materials and encouraging public discussions
- materials issued by the National Board for Historic Service, which helped historical agencies to document local reactions and events relating to the war
- a depiction of "Distinguishing Marks of the U.S. Army" and a "Station List of Units Since Arrival in the American E.F." that includes field orders and messages, reports on recent operations, and commendations relating to the 53rd, 105th, and 106th Infantry units
Of special note is material that was apparently gathered to document work of the War Council of the American Red Cross and wartime humanitarian relief efforts. This material consists of copies of photographic portraits of major historical figures. Military and political figures represented include: John J. Pershing; Woodrow Wilson; Winston Churchill; Joseph Joffre; Georges Clemenceau; and Franklin Roosevelt (Assistant Secretary of the Navy). Humanitarian relief workers represented include: Herbert Hoover (Chairman of the Committee for Relief of Belgium); Commissioner of Education Colonel John H. Finley (Red Cross Commissioner to Palestine); Edith Cavell (nurse/hospital administrator who was executed during the German occupation of Belgium); and Ignacy Jan Paderewski (famed Polish pianist who raised great sums in America for Polish war relief).
There are also extensive photographs (many of which are captioned) relating to Troy, New York during wartime, or to servicemen from that area, which were apparently collected by City Historian Mary T. Ryan, including:
- photographs of the Tank Center at Bourc, France (1919) showing servicemen, living quarters, and facilities sponsored by the Knights of Columbus organization
- photographs and postcards of sites in France, Belgium, Germany, and Jerusalem apparently acquired from Troy servicemen
- group photographs of the Students Army Training Corps (and Naval Section) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy
- photographs of soldiers stationed at the Watervliet Arsenal
- photographs of Troy scenes, businesses, civic leaders, women's groups, and parades during and after the war (especially for Liberty Loan campaigns and greeting returning troops), including many portraits of Troy veterans
- photographs of Troy citizen organizers of Liberty Loan campaigns, and other participants in Salvation Army or other unidentified civilian war work