Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Armed Services Editions in WWII

John Jamieson in his book Books For The Army: The Army Library Service In The Second World War (Columbia University Press, 1950) says this about the Armed Services Editions: "The outstanding achievement in the history of the wartime activities of the Army Library Service was the production and distribution of the paperbound books known as Armed Services Editions. It was the best organized and most efficiently operated of all the activities in which the Army Library Service had a part, and with the possible exception of the overseas distribution of magazines, it directly affected the largest number of soldiers. Indeed, for the bulk of our troops overseas, Armed Services Editions were the only books that were widely and easily accessible." The Armed Services Editions project was a cooperative effort involving army and navy agencies, publishers, printers, and a variety of other entities. The project was coordinated by the Council on Books in Wartime. According to Jamieson, between the fall of 1943 and the fall of 1947, 1,322 titles were printed and a total of 122,951,031 volumes were delivered to the army and navy overseas. On February 17, 1983, the Library of Congress celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Armed Services Editions. One result of that celebration was the publication of the book Books In Action: The Armed Services Editions, edited by John Y. Cole (Library of Congress, 1984). The Library of Congress has placed the contents of that book online. Between April 20 and September 10, 1996, the University of Virginia which has a large collection of the Armed Forces Editions put on an exhibit about the books. A virtual representation of that exhibit entitled "Books Go To War" is located here. The online publication edited by Cole includes a complete list of the books in the Armed Forces Editions. The Library of Congress has a complete set of the Armed Services Editions and the University of Alabama Library also has a set. The Princeton University Library also has a large collection of the books and the archival files of the Council on Books in Wartime are located in the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Prinecton. The book shown above is from my personal collection.

1 comment:

Renae Satterley said...

I went to the British Book Trade Index conference last year and someone gave a talk on this same subject. A report of the conference is available here: