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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Letter From Home: 1917

Letter From Home: 1917

"1917. Camp Meade, Maryland. Winter views." At ease in the barracks with news from the folks. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Some things never change

My son is in basic training as I type and he told me how much letters mean to him. Email is banned, so old fashioned letters must suffice.

Dear Son,

I am writing to let you know that while you are in the military, I turned your room into a guest room after a good cleaning.

I gave the little boy down the street that old box of baseball cards under your bed. He said something about Honus Wagner in his collection.

Was that the man who invented baseball or the uniforms?

Your Mother.

I've actually worn that uniform!

Some years ago, for a Memorial Day Celebration, I was allowed to wear an old WWI era uniform, taken straight out of an Army museum; uncomfortable, itchy, but WARM. The boots obviously were ill fitting, and I had to be very gentle because the leather was very old and a bit brittle, but the rest fit perfectly. The gas mask was missing from its holder, though.

Others were wearing an authentic 120 year old Civil War uniform (Northern, of course), a uniform from WWII (sharpest looking of the bunch), a Korean War combat uniform, a Vietnam era uniform, and the then brand new Army BDU (mid 1980s). The museum director never let us out of his sight, obviously, but we did make a very impressive color guard for the Memorial Day speech by the AROTC Commanding General's presentation. I carried the Army flag, particularly appropriate.

Shiny new mess kits

Dave, thanks for publishing this. I've been researching my grandfather's service at Camp Jackson, SC during 1917 before he was shipped to France. I wondered what a typical barracks of the time looked like. I have his blackened, field-stained mess kit just like the nice clean ones seen on the shelves. These fellows have yet to be changed by the horrors of war.

Ah! Letters from home. Looks like a happy day.

After a week of marching, crawling beneath barbed wire, cleaning guns, and using a toothbrush to clean the latrines I bet it's nice to kick back and read letters from home.

I wonder how many actually got to France? And I wonder if any of these men survived the Spanish Flu later?

Real one-of-a-kind letters.

Some may not remember the olden days when people took pen in hand to write, only for the addressee, letters of personal interest indicating they cared about you enough to take some time and keep in touch. We see smiles of men who are thinking of and remembering the voices of those who have written to them. We see concern on a face or two of those who may have received worrisome news. But they knew somebody cared enough to encourage them and they also knew how to read and write, both of which are quickly becoming lost skills. Of course without TV, things like newspapers, magazines, games and hobbies were necessary for recreation. Each face in this photo tells a story. Thanks for this very thoughtful picture.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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