Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Merchant Marine and ALA in WWI

The Merchant Marine is the fleet of American ships which carries a wide variety of cargo around the world during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime. The Merchant Marine played an essential role in World War I by delivering U.S. troops and war material to the European theater. During World War I the Library War Service of the American Library Association provided books to the men who served on the ships of the Merchant Marine. As part of its promotion of this service ALA published a series of eight postcards depicting Merchant Marine mariners/sailors using the service. I've managed to collect seven of the eight postcards, two of which are depicted above. The rest are located HERE. The postcards indicate that: "The A.L.A. furnishes free crew's libraries to American merchant ships and through representatives at principal ports provides a free library service to American seamen." One postcard states that: "Boxed crew's libraries, each containing about eighty books of fiction, travel, books on seamanship and others, are exchangeable at principal ports." After the war the books from this service were transferred to the American Merchant Marine Library Association which was created in 1921. It was one of the legacies of the ALA Library War Service.


Denise Rayman said...

Hi Larry! I'm impressed you've managed to get 7 out of 8! The ALA Archives does have a digital scan of the one you're missing available online if anyone would like to view it as well:

Larry T. Nix said...

Thanks Denise. I can see why this one is the hardest to find. Lighthouses are extremely popular. I've been pretty successful in collecting many of the Library War Service postcards. Does the ALA Archives have a complete set?

Denise Rayman said...

We do have all of the Merchant Marine ones but I am not sure how complete our WWI postcard collection is overall, for instance I am sure we do not have that pretty color one you have of the interior of the Camp MacArthur library, because neither me or Cara Bertram (who also works at the ALA Archives) has seen it before!

We're currently in the process of moving all of our WWI photographs and postcards into the CONTENTdm system, which is more friendly to browse than the Archon system (which is the one I linked you to.) The majority of WWI pictures are digitized though (with a few un-scanned stragglers that we just got back from the Preservation department.) After transferring them I hope to have a much better mental inventory of what we do and do not have!