Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yale University Library and World War I

One of the biggest challenges faced by historians is the absence or loss of historical records which in many instances have been deliberately disposed of. The historian's best friends are those individuals who have the vision to acquire and preserve records that document important historical events. John Christopher Schwab, Yale University Librarian 1905-1916, was one such individual. In the early stages of World War I when the United States was still neutral, Schwab and the Yale University Library, as documented in the letter and circular above, aggressively sought to collect "the ephemeral publications on every phase of the present war which appear as well in the neutral as in the belligerent countries." The two items are in my collection along with the envelope in which they were contained addressed to a Yale alumnus in Natal, South Africa and mailed on May 1, 1915. It's difficult to determine where the materials collected by Yale in this effort are currently located, but Yale does have an extensive portal to its World War I resources on its website.

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