Charles Seavey has an impressive website Books for Swabbies: Ship's Libraries in the "New" Steel Navy, 1880s - 1930s. As Seavey points out, books on ships in the United States date back to at least 1820 with the various book collections on the U.S.S. Franklin. This is the same year that the first mechanics libraries and mercantile libraries for young men were established in the United States. I have an interest in libraries that served the military and have a collection of postcards on this topic. The first postcard above shows a group of sailors in the Library of the Brooklyn Branch of the Naval Y.M.C.A. in Brooklyn, NY which was mailed in 1910. The American Library Association (ALA) took an active role in supplying books and magazines to sailors in World War I through its Library War Service. The second postcard shows sailors of a merchant marine vessel enjoying books from the ALA Library War Service. More postcards depicting ALA's service to merchant marine sailors are shown on the Library History Buff website. The third postcard shows a group of sailors in front of an ALA World War I Camp Library at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois. Historical documents relating to US Navy Libraries are located on the Navy Department Library website.
Life Imitating Archives
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