Tag Archives: World War I

Books and war

I’ve been immersed in World War One pamphlets that arrived here at the Maine Historical Society (my day job) about 100 years ago. We finally decided to catalog them, so this is my summer project. Amidst the pamphlets are letters from the American Library Association’s War Service Committee to librarians, asking for men to go into librarianship, as well as asking for book donations.

According to Wikipedia, The Library War Service was established by the American Library Association in 1917 to provide library services to American soldiers training in camps and serving overseas in World War I. Between 1917 and 1920, the ALA raised $5 million from public donations, erected 36 camp libraries, distributed 7 to 10 million books and magazines, and provided library collections to more than 500 locations, including military hospitals.

I find this all so fascinating, about how books and libraries were necessary during war time. So when I found the book “When books went to war: the stories that helped us win World War II” by Molly Guptill Manning at the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association, I checked it out.

Inside this book, I found wonderful tales of how books indeed were used in fighting the war, mostly in providing a book for every soldier, to help improve morale as they fought a war in the most dismal and horrendous of situations. Some of the book movement was a backlash to the book burning going on in Germany, in an effort to control what people were reading. But there is also interesting information about publishing of paperbacks for soldiers, that were lightweight to carry as they traveled into war torn areas. Anyone who believes in the power of bibliotherapy will find this a thrilling read.

On a different but related note, there are, of course, wonderful novels that take place during war-time. Two of note that relate to World War One are “The summer before the war” by Helen Simonson, and “A star for Mrs. Blake” by April Smith. I’m reading “The summer before the war” right now – as the Belgian refugees are taken in by villagers in Rye, I think about the many pamphlets I’ve catalogued about the German invasion of Belgium, when over 200,000 refugees fled to Britain. This novel helps to bring that fact to life. “A star for Mrs. Blake” is about Cora Blake, of Maine, who makes a pilgrimage to France in the 1930s, with other Gold Star Mothers who lost their sons during World War I.

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War I let’s take the opportunity to recognize the role of books in wartime.

Maine Historical Society book group is back again

designingacadia_webgraphicWednesday, October 5, 2016 – Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Maine Historical Society Book Group is back by popular demand! Join us for five fun evenings of camaraderie and great book discussion. Led by MHS Research Librarian Tiffany Link, the group will read five books, each related to MHS’s Designing Acadia and World War I exhibitions, then gather for discussion. Light refreshments will be served. The group will meet in the MHS Brown Library, 6-8pm on the first Wednesday of each month through March. (There will be no December meeting.)

October 5:  A Land Of Discord Always-Acadia From It’s Beginnings to the Expulsion of Its People 1604-1755 by Charles Mahaffie (Camden, ME: Down East Books, 1995).

Please Read Chapters : 1- 4- 7- 11- 16- 21- 24- 29- 32 and 33 (or the whole book if you like). Also choose a chapter from Longfellow’s Evangeline to discuss and compare.

November 2: Ghost of Acadia by Marcus LiBrizzi (Rockport, ME: Down East Books, 2011).

January 4: Becoming Teddy Roosevelt by Andrew Vietze (Rockport, ME: Down East Books, 2010).

February 1: Love on the Rocks-Stories of Rusticators and Romance on MDI (Yarmouth, ME: Islandport Press, 2008).

March 1: Bar Harbor in the Roaring Twenties: From Village Life to the High Life on M.D.I. by Luann Yetter (The History Press, 2015).

Program dates: October 5, November 2, January 4, February 1, March 1. For questions, please contact Tiffany Link at tlink@mainehistory.org or 207-774-1822 x 230. A 20% discount on the books read for this group will be offered in the MHS Museum Store. $20 MHS Members; $30 general admission for all book sessions. Limited to 25 people.

Register today!