Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas in Vladivostok 1918 Revisited

This post is a slightly modified version of a post that I made on Dec. 14, 2008. It's a nice Christmas story about one of our librarian predecessors who went beyond the call of duty.

The caption on the rare postcard above sends Christmas [1918] Greetings from the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia and Library War Service of the American Library Association. In December of 1918, Harry Clemons found himself in Vladivostok, Siberia as the sole representative of the American Library Association Library War Service. His role was to provide library service to the members of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Siberia. As described in one report of the circumstances on his arrival: "That there were unusual opportunities for library service was apparent. The troops were comfortably housed in winter quarters; the thrill of the war was over and the men wanted to get home." Clemons wrote to ALA War Service Headquarters on December 22,1918, shortly after his arrival: "I hope to be able to send sets [of books] to all the detachments, large and small, of the Expedition during Christmas week. Thus we introduce the short story into the long Siberian night. In my position of 'middleman' I am sure I can send to you and the others who are making the war work possible the grateful Christmas greetings of the Expeditionary Force in Siberia." A report from Clemons about his service in Siberia appeared in the Bulletin of the American Library Association for 1919.  A compilation of Clemons' letters back to the ALA headquarters were distributed to participants of the 1919 ALA Conference in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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