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World War I

What We Own

World War I commenced in Europe in 1914. In the years that followed the United States was increasingly involved, and officially entered the conflict in April 1917. Hostilities ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's collections related to World War I extend beyond the state of Wisconsin's contribution. The Society Archives holds letters, photos and personal papers, as well as official military records of participants. The Society Library maintains general histories, regimental histories, personal narratives, journal articles, newspaper accounts, and government documents related to the War. 

In the Archives

By WWI, the military was strictly under Federal jurisdiction and most official military records are in Federal repositories. However, due to special "bonuses" for which every Wisconsin resident who served as soldier, sailor, marine, or nurse was eligible, the state Adjutant General's office compiled brief service records on all Wisconsin service personnel.

Manuscript and government records collections provide extensive information on home front movements and attitudes. These include collections of World War I soldier letters and diaries, unpublished unit histories, and other military documentation.

Efforts to build support for the war effort by patriotic organizations such as the Wisconsin Loyalty Legion and League to Enforce Peace, and through efforts such as Liberty Bond campaigns are well documented. Other collections evidence strong anti-German sentiments and persecution of aliens, radicals, and those who opposed the war.

In the Library

The Library houses general histories about virtually every aspect of the World War I including battles, major figures, military units, armaments, diplomacy, and home front life. In addition, Library collections include personal narratives, memoirs, biographies, unit histories, and military atlases.

Two major collections are particularly noteworthy for researching World War I:

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card, 1917-1918.

The Library owns reels of Wisconsin draft cards in two sets. One contains general registrations and the other includes prisoners, Indians, insane, in hospitals, and late registrants. The names are arranged by county of registration, which may not be the county of residence. Within each county, the names are in alphabetical order. Both sets can be found in the Library Microforms Room.

World War I camp newspapers

The Library owns a variety of these newspapers which give a good view of activities at camps throughout the United States. These are found in the Library Microforms Room.


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