1917-1919 Camp Bowie Library No. 2, Branch No. 2, Identification Card No. 818
In December 1917, the United States officially entered World War I with a declaration of war on Austria-Hungary. The Selective Service Act had passed in May 1917 in preparation for US involvement, and over 24 million men who had registered for the draft, were poised and ready for military training should they be called to service. To facilitate the training of new inductees, the US Department of War established thirty training camps throughout the US. The construction of Camp Bowie, a 2,186-acre facility outside of Fort Worth, began on July 18, 1917.
On November 11, 1918, the signing of the Armistice de Compiègne brought the end of World War I and victory to the US and its allies. Camp Bowie became a demobilization center and officially closed on August 15, 1919.
Camp Bowie reopened in 1940 and continues to be used as an active military training center.
American Library Association’s Library War Service
In 1917, at the behest of Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress, and Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, the American Library Association established the Library War Service to provide books and services to American World War I soldiers stationed at home and abroad, as well as, military hospitals and prisoners of war.
Through public monetary and book donations, the ALA established at least 43 camp libraries and distributed approximately 10 million books and magazines, including braille books to soldiers that lost their sight in battle. The ALA also hired over 234 trained librarians to staff the camp and military hospital libraries through the grants from the Carnegie Corporation. In addition, “crafts teachers” were hired to teach convalescing soldiers skills such as mechanical drawing.
The camp library buildings were designed by architect E. L. Tillman and were equipped to hold approximately 10,000 volumes, and came with a small vehicle for library related tasks such as transportation of books. Some camp libraries were equipped with fireplaces to provide ambiance and “a touch of home and civilization.”
The Library War Service remained active through 1919, after which the library services became military-managed.