In honor of the centennial of World War I, the Spencer Research Library Blog is going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday the library will post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to fifteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.
Author: Becky Schulte
Becky Schulte has been the University Archivist at the University of Kansas since 2003. She previously held the position of Head of Reader Services at KU's Spencer Research Library and served as the Assistant Curator of the Kansas Collection, the University's regional history library. In addition to the position of University Archivist she is also Curator of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements at Spencer Library and has worked with the collection since 1985. Schulte graduated from KU in 1976 with a degree in Humanities and received an MA in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin--Madison in 1982.
In December 1917, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Graduate Magazine began publishing letters from Jayhawks serving in various capacities overseas. The letters became a regular part of the publication in 1918 and 1919. While some of the letters were from former students to faculty at KU or to The Graduate Magazine itself, most were sent to their families and later shared with the Alumni Association’s publication – giving those back home a glimpse into the lives of brave Jayhawks overseas.
Women at the University of Kansas contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways during World War I. Here’s a look at just some of the ways that KU women found to support the war effort, as illustrated by the collections in University Archives!
For example, the physical education and English departments made their mark on the war effort through several organized projects. Students in various knitting and sewing classes made sheets and bed socks for hospitals and sweaters for the troops. Knitting classes were later disbanded temporarily to allow time and space for female students to make surgical dressings for military hospitals.
In July 2014, JoJo Palko, University Archives intern, wrote a post on the beginnings of the “war to end all wars”. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. That tragic moment put into motion the dominoes that would fall one month later, resulting in a war that would last four years and forever change the course of history. The war would forever change the University of Kansas as well. This post provides information about the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) and about KU graduate, Dr. William T. Fitzsimmons, the first American army officer killed in World War I.