Armed Services Editions @ ISL

Providing recreational and entertainment outlets for American servicemen overseas was a paramount concern during World War II. The United Services Organization (USO) is perhaps the most well-known and enduring of these endeavors, supplying troops with live shows and revues performed by major Hollywood celebrities. Less famous but equally as important was the work of The Council on Books in Wartime, an organization formed by booksellers, publishers, authors and libraries whose main focus was to supply reading materials to troops. Americans happily donated books to the cause in numerous community book drives, but most books in the 1940s were heavy large hardcovers and could not be transported easily by troops. To remedy this, the council took bestselling books and fashioned them into a paperback format dubbed Armed Services Editions, which were distributed free of charge to servicemen. These books were purposefully designed to be small and flexible enough to fit into cargo pockets. The program was incredibly successful and paved the way for the rise of paperbacks as a popular and inexpensive book format in the post-war era.

Despite being manufactured by cheap materials, many Armed Services Editions survived the war and are now highly collectible. The Library of Congress has all 1,322 titles that were produced. Here at the Indiana State Library, we have three in our collection that represent works by Indiana authors.

“Here is Your War” by Ernie Pyle. This photo shows the size difference between the original version of the book and the Armed Services Edition.

“Little Orvie” by Booth Tarkington.

“Our Hearts were Young and Gay” by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Two World War I stories: Newly digitized collections from World War I and the Hoosier Experience

With the World War I centennial upon us, library staff have been hard at work digitizing the collections of Hoosier heroes of all walks of life from wartime. While we are taking the time to highlight collections of those who served both at home and abroad, here are two new additions from the past few months: S0091 Joe Rand Beckett Collection and L359 Franklin Newton Taylor Collection.

A 1912 advertisement for Franklin N. Taylor as a voice teacher at the Metropolitan School of Music.

Both men were from Indianapolis, though Taylor was originally born in Danville, Ind. Taylor was a singer and, as part of the Y.M.C.A., traveled France entertaining the troops mostly throughout the Bordeaux region. Aside from his war work, he served as music director at the Central Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, choir director at Irvington Methodist Episcopal Church and was a voice instructor at Metropolitan School of Music (later Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music at Butler University) from 1908 until 1949. His collection includes a plethora of personal correspondence and newspaper clippings, as well as Y.M.C.A. and World War I travel ephemera and interesting personal effects that he collected.

Seashells collected by Franklin Taylor in La Rochelle, France while overseas with the Y.M.C.A., dated Jan. 30, 1919.

Beckett was an Indianapolis architect, lawyer, philanthropist, member of the Indiana Senate and captain of the 326th Field Artillery, Battery D during World War I. Shortly before the war, he had passed the bar and formed the law firm, Beckett and Beckett, with his father. At the beginning of his service, Beckett’s rank was first lieutenant and rose to captain in August 1918. The battery sailed from New York to Scotland the following month, arriving in France at the end of September only a few weeks out from Armistice. His senatorial career took place during 1929 and 1931; afterwards he became known for pioneering low-income housing in Indianapolis, specifically Lockefield Gardens. His collection contains several photographs, correspondence during and after the war and military papers, including the roster and movements of 326th F.A., Battery D.

A photograph of Joe Rand Beckett (right) in uniform in 1918; location unknown.

This postcard was sent to Captain Joe Rand Beckett’s wife, Mary Ann Beckett, to notify her that he had arrived safely overseas; ca. September 1918.

 

Sources:

“Joe Rand Beckett.” Indiana Legislator Database. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

Barrow, Robert G. “The Local Origins of New Deal Housing Project The Case of Lockefield Gardens in Indianapolis.” Indiana Magazine of History 103, no. 2 (2007): 125-151, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

It’s Our War, Too!: The WAC at Camp Atterbury during WWII

Ever wonder when women were first allowed to serve in the U.S. Army (besides nurses)? The answer is 1942!

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

With the United States embroiled in World War II, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was established on May 15, 1942 as a noncombatant auxiliary to the army. The corps was renamed the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) upon its full incorporation into the army on July 1, 1943, enlisting each new recruit with the goal of “releasing a man from service.” Continue reading