Manuscripts & Folklife Archives - World War I Collections
This is a list of collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU's Department of Library Special Collections that relate to World War I. Included are letters of soldiers and civilians, military records and papers, research projects, photographs, scrapbooks and other, mostly unpublished material. Our collections are particularly strong in documenting the experiences of Kentuckians at home and overseas, and of others who found themselves in Kentucky (most notably, at Camp Zachary Taylor, the Army training facility in Louisville) during the war and its immediate aftermath.
Below is an alphabetical list of the collections and a brief description of the World War I elements of each. Clicking on the collection name will link you to TopSCHOLAR®, WKU's online digital repository, where you can download a detailed finding aid for the collection and, in some cases, view materials in the collection. For further information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexander, Fay S., 1896-1972
A soldier at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky writes to his parents in Ohio of a measles quarantine, his diet, drills, mail call, and the spirited conversations of his comrades.
Alvis, Elizabeth Duncan (Stark), 1876-1959
Honorable discharge certificate of Richard C. Stark, issued at Camp Zachary Taylor.
Anderson, Catherine (Simmons), d. 2008 - Collector
While training at Camp Zachary Taylor and in Ohio and Virginia, J. Preston Cherry of Butler County, Kentucky receives letters from his anxious family that mention food conservation, influenza, farm life and other news of the home front.
Barr, Edward Wallace, 1887-1962
Bowling Green, Kentucky native Barr's record and appointment books document his training and service with the U.S. Army Dental Corps and the clinical status of General John J. Pershing. Read more
Barret Family Papers
Captain Barret Monfort's military papers include his officer's record book, appointment certificate, and letters from France in which he speculates on the "big push" that will end the war, then describes the Armistice celebrations in Paris.
Bristow, James Ernest, 1898-1976
Sergeant's appointment certificate, discharge and disability allowance papers for this Owensboro, Kentucky native.
Brown, Archie L., 1898-1989
Serving in France, Brown writes briefly to his father early in 1919 of the cold weather and a missing Christmas package.
Brown Family Papers
A memorial card and chaplain's report to his family document the death and burial of Johnie Brown of Breckinridge County, Kentucky while serving in France in 1919.
Brown, Murray, 1894-1980
A 1918 order inducting Brown into military service at Hardinsburg, Kentucky.
Buckberry, Ray B., Jr., b. 1934
“Warren County [Kentucky] War Dead: World War I,” a compilation of data on casualties and overseas cemeteries.
Buckner, Howard Chandler, 1896-1960
Buckner's letter to his parents in Robertson County, Kentucky describes his living conditions as he awaits repatriation from St. Mihiel, France.
Buckner, Howard Chandler, 1896-1960
Military record, identification and discharge papers of Buckner, and his notebook kept during training.
A soldier's letters and lively "camp notes" describe his training and travels in England as he impatiently awaits deployment to France.
Carley Family Papers
This collection of letters from a Georgetown, Kentucky family includes some heartfelt expressions of mourning for the dead of World War I. A medical student also writes of his training during the subsequent influenza pandemic.
Writing to Mildred Tucker in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a soldier describes his voyage overseas and his surroundings in England; another writes from France on a series of picture postcards about his sightseeing after the war.
Chatten, Lily Waller
Kentucky native Chatten's 1918 poem, "America's Answer to Flanders Fields," dedicated to all who served in the war.
Cohron, Emary C., d. 1918
A report on the death and burial of this Ohio County, Kentucky native, killed in action in France.
Coombs Family Collection
Friends and family members write to Elizabeth Coombs during their military service; one correspondent details the rigors of his training in Arkansas and his assignment at the American Embassy in Rome, Italy.
Crume, Charles Thomas, Jr., 1933-1996
Papers of Charles T. Crume, Sr. and Samuel Crume of Bardstown, Kentucky document their induction into military service; also includes postwar thanks from General John J. Pershing and a list of Nelson County, Kentucky veterans.
Crump, Malcolm Hart, 1849-1925
A pamphlet of the Universal Military Training League, "Our Nation in Danger," touts the benefits of preparedness for war.
Davis, Virginia Wood, 1919-1990
A seaman writes of his duties in France on board the USS W.T. James.
Denhardt, Henry Herman, 1876-1937
Papers relating to Bowling Green, Kentucky native Denhardt's service include instructional material on field gunnery from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and equipment lists, orders and regulations issued during his command of troops being shipped to England and then France. Denhardt also assessed postwar conditions in France.
Duncan, Wand Bolivar, 1884-1970
A soldier writes from camp in North Carolina, where he discusses the war with visiting French officers, then from camp in New York en route to France. Includes items relating to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and a service flag for home display.
Edmunds, John Ray, 1896-1978
A soldier writes to his mother in Kentucky as he recovers from influenza in camp at Great Lakes, Illinois.
Fenwick, John, 1890-1937
This Kentucky soldier's 1918 letter from France describes preparations to move to the front and exposure to shell fire.
Fleischman, Adolf, d. 1987
A soldier writes in November, 1918 from Corbin, Kentucky to his wife in Louisville of his plans to return home.
Fox Family Papers
From France, William B. Kerr writes his sweetheart in Kentucky of his fears she will contract influenza--or marry someone else--and explains military censorship.
Gerwig, Frank T., 1897-1962
Training at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, Gerwig writes home to Pennsylvania of a measles quarantine, the routines of military life, and of his readiness to serve overseas.
Gordon, Maurice Kirby, 1878-1974
The papers of this Hopkins County, Kentucky native contain materials relating to his service as an officer in France and his involvement with the American Legion; also included is a military cartoon book from the war.
Gorham, Fred Jaynes, 1878-1918
A Paris, Kentucky native and Spanish-American War veteran, Gorham re-enlisted to help train younger soldiers at Fort Thomas, Kentucky and in New Mexico. His letters to his wife and mother describe his work, which ended suddenly with his death from complications of influenza. Read more
Graham, Vere, 1897-1971
A certificate documents this Indiana native's service with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1918-1919.
Grinstead, James David, 1894-1976
This Barren County, Kentucky soldier describes military life at Camp Zachary Taylor and at camps in Mississippi and New Jersey.
Hagerman, Bettie (Robertson), 1867-1926
Organizational materials for a food sale fundraiser by the Warren County, Kentucky chapter of the Red Cross.
Hanson, Albert C., 1895-1976
While serving in France, Hanson writes his future wife in Newport, Kentucky of his eagerness to return home.
Hardcastle Family Papers
Warren County, Kentucky native Robert F. Hardcastle's 1919 discharge certificate from the U.S. Army.
Harris, Downey Lamar, 1875-1956
The brother of Simpson County, Kentucky soldier George DeWitt Harris writes to console his family over his death in France, and to express renewed dedication to his work as a physician at Camp Lee, Virginia.
Harris Family Papers
Simpson County, Kentucky brothers George and Downey Harris served, respectively, as a second lieutenant in France and a camp physician in Virginia. Downey survived the war but George died of battle wounds in October 1918. Their letters home describe their training and duties; included are family letters relating to the return of George's body from overseas in 1921.
Harris, George DeWitt, 1876-1918
Family letters to this soldier from Simpson County, Kentucky include an expression of concern for a wound that had caused his death by the time the letter was written.
Herdman, Guy Hess, 1875-1947
Letters explain attorney Herdman's appointment to Warren County, Kentucky's Legal Advisory Board, created to assist young men in complying with selective service laws.
"Hicks in Washington"
A lighthearted reminiscence of an unidentified woman's experiences working in wartime Washington and living at a boarding house with other "hicks."
A 1917 memorandum from the Provost Marshall in Lexington, Kentucky describes an altercation between military police and African Americans.
Houchin, Roy Franklin II, b. 1954
Houchin interviews Douglas Campbell regarding his World War I aerial combat experience, and discusses military uniforms with Bob Ford.
Hudkins, Edgar Fernando, 1893-1977
This soldier writes from France in February, 1919 of the monotony of postwar military life and of his hopes to return home, albeit to an uncertain future.
Hughes, Berta (Brinton), b. 1868
A soldier's letter from Camp Zachary Taylor expresses condolences to Mrs. Hughes on the death of her sons Tom and Lee.
Jackson, Carlton L., 1933-2014
Letters collected in 1976 by this WKU professor relate veterans’ encounters with the influenza pandemic during their World War I service overseas.
Johnson, John R., 1893-1974, and Andrew W. Johnson, b. 1896
Brothers John and Andrew Johnson of Wooster, Ohio write home of camp life in South Carolina and New York, as well as at Camp Zachary Taylor. They describe the ordeals of vaccination, quarantines for influenza and (in John's case) conditions in France at the close of the war. Read more
Letters to Jones describe life at Camp Zachary Taylor, commenting on the camp's size, the YMCA, church services, food, training, and "flying machines."
Jones, Howard Malcolm and Frances (Young) Jones Collection
Papers of the Jones family of Barren County, Kentucky include Howard B. Smith's notebook kept during officer's training and his letters, first from Camp Zachary Taylor and then from Camp Sherman, Ohio, where he describes an influenza outbreak.
Jones, Lane D.
A 1918 solicitation from the National War Savings Committee chairman for Wayne County, Kentucky, outlines the ways in which Americans can invest in the war effort.
Kinney, Grover, 1885-1963
This Lewis County, Kentucky farmer's papers include instructions outlining his duties with the county branch of the National Catholic War Council.
Kirby, Carlisle Wilkins, 1890-1968
Though incomplete, this collection includes data on World War I veterans in Warren County, Kentucky compiled by Kirby and others for the Works Progress Administration's Veterans' Graves Registration Project.
Knisley, Clyde Vernon, Jr., 1918-1945
From the trenches in Belgium and France, Clyde's father cheerfully writes home to Newport, Tennessee in summer 1918.
Lambert, James Knox Polk, 1864-1960
Simpson County, Kentucky native Lambert served in England and France with the YMCA. His journals chronicle his experiences at length, and include his thoughts on major battles, the war's destruction, the YMCA's work, and peace negotiations. Read more here, here, and here.
Lissauer, Mildred Wallis (Potter), 1897-1998 - Collector
A scrapbook kept by Martha Potter of Bowling Green, Kentucky, documents her son John's service in France. Includes John's letters, keepsakes and officer's handbook. Read more
Martin, Charles Roy, 1892-1984
Missouri native Martin writes from camps in Texas and New Jersey, and from France of military life and his activities pending demobilization after the Armistice.
Mason, Mildred A. (Wild), 1899-1997
Certificates and pins belonging to this Latonia, Kentucky resident relate to war bonds and civilian service organizations.
McCallum, Elizabeth Elliot (Cherry), 1890-1985
Postcards from a Red Cross nurse visiting Paris, France in 1918 describe her sightseeing, note a recent air raid, and mourn the lack of sweets.
McElroy, Clarence Underwood, 1849-1928
The papers of this Bowling Green, Kentucky attorney include solicitations for war relief funds and letters from clients overseas reacting to the conflict. Read more
McWherter, Henry Newton, 1858-1923
His father's 1918 letter to McWherter, then serving overseas, refers to family, friends and the influenza outbreak.
Melton Family Papers
This collection includes Private Lee Strum's discharge certificate and a letter remarking on the prevalence of influenza in Webster and Graves counties in Kentucky.
A soldier at Camp Zachary Taylor writes Blanche confessing to an unauthorized trip to Indianapolis.
Miller's letter from Camp Zachary Taylor describes his officer's training and praises Louisville, Kentucky for its hospitality.
Morton, David, 1886-1957
Poems written and collected by this Elkton, Kentucky native include verse with World War I themes.
Muncy, William McKinley, 1894-1963
A soldier at Camp Zachary Taylor writes of training, vaccinations, social activities, desertion and suicide among his comrades, and the treatment of conscientious objectors.
Patterson, Frank, 1895-1969
Honorable discharge certificate of this Warren County, Kentucky soldier, issued at Camp Zachary Taylor.
Phillips, Clem Benjamin, 1894-1970
This Missouri native writes of his training and camp life in Kansas and New Jersey and his service in France, where he is wounded. Family members write of their war work and the impact on St. Louis of the influenza epidemic. Read more
Price Family Collection
Warren County, Kentucky native Robert Yancey Price writes to his sweetheart from camp in North Carolina and France. Includes his discharge certificate and other military documents.
Price, Joseph Llewellyn, 1877-1949
Papers of this Marshall County, Kentucky attorney include handbooks and bulletins (The Spy Glass) of the American Protective League, lists of Kentuckians failing to report for military service, patriotic poetry, and records relating to his duties as Marshall County administrator for the U.S. Food Administration.
Pusey, William Allen, 1865-1940
A letter seeks the services of Dr. Pusey, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in the Medical Reserve Corps to advise on venereal diseases and their prevention.
Rainey, Granville Pillowipskin, 1890?-1945
While serving in France, a sergeant writes to his family in Indiana of German prisoners of war, atrocities, aerial combat, influenza, and Armistice celebrations.
Papers of Rau, a captain with the Army Medical Corps, include a list of personnel at the hospital in Camp Wheeler, Georgia.
The letters of classical scholar Gilbert Murray and others from England to poet Cale Young Rice in Louisville, Kentucky provide civilian views of the war, the wounded, and atrocities.
Richey, Nancy Carol, b. 1959 - Collector
Notices to World War I veteran James D. Preston document his bonus payments.
Settle, Margery Lucille, 1899-1980
A soldier from McLean County, Kentucky writes in 1918 of his training, his attempts to communicate with French women and, in 1919, of his progress in returning home.
Short, Drucilla Jane (Harris), 1878-1952
Drucilla writes from Franklin, Kentucky to her brother George Harris about the closure of schools and theaters due to influenza, and the possible deployment overseas of their brother Downey. The letters were returned to the family after George's death in France.
Smith, Cooper Ray, 1887-1951
A Warren County, Kentucky soldier who arrives in France as the war ends writes of his trip overseas, local sights, the Armistice celebrations, and his regrets over the news of influenza deaths at home.
"Death on the Rails," a WKU student's paper about a 1918 rail accident in France that killed members of the 113th Engineer Battalion and 138th Field Artillery.
Sorgen, Vinton Grant, 1894-1968
From Camp Zachary Taylor, Sorgen writes to his family in Ohio of entering camp, receiving vaccinations, and seeing an aviation field.
Sprowl, Wilson, d. 1918
Sprowl writes to his family in Monroe County, Kentucky of his arrival and vaccination at Camp Zachary Taylor, and of rifle training at Camp Custer in Michigan. Includes King George V's welcome to American soldiers and rules of conduct during the overseas crossing. Read more
Strahm, Victor Herbert, 1897-1957
Strahm's letters to his parents in Bowling Green, Kentucky detail his exploits in France, where his duties involved surveillance and spotting but where he also earned the designation "ace" for his downing of five German planes.
Street, James William, 1858-1944
Street's 1917 journal includes names of Lyon County, Kentucky men departing for military service.
Temple Family Papers
A soldier describes his training in Iowa and Oklahoma and praises the YMCA's work on behalf of servicemen.
Topmiller Family Papers
Soldiers send postcards from France to a young lady in Owensboro, Kentucky and write from Camp Zachary Taylor of YMCA amenities and a recent quarantine.
Van Meter, William Swan, d. 1958
A Hardin County, Kentucky soldier stationed in Germany after the Armistice writes of his pastimes while awaiting demobilization.
Venable Family Papers
A soldier from Christian County, Kentucky in pre-induction training writes his mother with a description of his life in camp near Syracuse, New York.
Wagoner, Lloyd, 1891-1967
Ohio native Wagoner writes to his parents of seeing "flying machines" en route to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, where he is processed for military service.
Walters, Jacob Bradford
On his way to camp in South Carolina, "Jack" Walters embraces his patriotic duty but consoles his sweetheart on their separation.
Watkins, James F., 1895-1982
Watkins writes to his parents describing his duties as a military policeman and giving a brief picture of St. Sulpice, France and environs.
West, James G.
Letters of soldiers Arthur Jones and D. D. Dooley tell of the rigors of military training, duty overseas, their impressions of France, and their Armistice celebrations.
Wilson, Gust E.
Sent overseas just as the war ends, this soldier writes with a few observations about his French hosts.
Winfrey, Charlie Ray, 1896-1980
Records relating to Winfrey's military service include postcards from France, a pass issued at Camp Zachary Taylor, his discharge, and materials on the 30th American Division and on Russell County, Kentucky veterans.
World War I, 1914-1918
A welcoming message in April 1918 from King George V to American soldiersr, bidding them "God speed on your mission."
World War I, 1914-1918
A speech by an unknown author explains "Why We Are at War with Germany."