Camp Bowie Army Base, Brownwood, Texas

1917-1919 Camp Bowie Library No. 2, Branch No. 2, Identification Card No. 818

Camp Bowie Camp Library No. 2, Branch No. 1, Identification Card (back blank)

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.

“Camp Bowie Library Will Open Friday.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 24, 1918, Page 9
Camp Library, Camp Bowie, Texas, c. 1917-1920. Copyright: American Library Association.

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.  

Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Galveston, Texas

Pre-1949 Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Library Card No. 1273 issued to Walter Lacey

Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Library Card (front)
Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Library Card (back)
Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Library Card (sleeve)

Rosenberg Library, Colored Branch, Galveston, Texas

Engraving above side entry to the Old Central Cultural Center (author unknown) (no know copyright restrictions)

The “Colored Branch” of the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas, was the first public library in Texas for African Americans.  It is believed that it was also the first public library for African Americans in the entire southern region of the United States. The main branch of the Rosenberg Library, established in 1904 from a trust bequeathed by Henry Rosenberg, was located at 2310 Sealy Street, but due to Jim Crow laws and forced segregation, African American residents were prohibited from using the new library.  Shortly before the opening of the new Rosenberg Library, the Board of Directors resolved to open a “colored” branch “so that the white and colored citizens of Galveston may separately derive advantages from the bequest of Henry Rosenberg for the establishment and maintenance of a Free Public Library for the use of the people of Galveston.”  Subsequently, a new “colored branch” opened in 1905.  It was located in an annex building of Central High School, the first public school for African Americans, located at 1304 27th Street.  The segregated branch opened with over 4,000 volumes and 210 library members.  In 1965, the Galveston School District integrated and the students at Central High School slowly merged with Ball High School.  Central High School closed it’s doors in 1968 and in 1976 became the Old Central Cultural Center.  The words “Colored Branch of Rosenberg Library” are still above the stone doorway leading into the annex.

Henry Rosenberg

Portrait of Henry Rosenberg courtesy of the Rosenberg Library.  No known copyright restrictions.  Used in accordance with the 17 USC 107, Fair Use Doctrine.

Henry Rosenberg born in Switzerland in 1824, arrived in Galveston, Texas in February 1843 and worked as a clerk in a dry-goods store.  He eventually purchased the business and turned it into the leading dry-goods store in Texas by 1859.  Subsequently, he branched into financing and investing in the banking, real estate and transportation industries.  He died in Galveston in 1889 and bequeathed part of his fortune to the city of Galveston.

Walter Lacey 

Lt. Walter Jay Lacy (1915-1998) was a 1932 graduate of Central High School in Galveston, and joined the Galveston Police Department in 1939. After enlisting in the US Marine Corps and serving a tour during WWII, he resumed his duties for the Galveston Police Department and served the community of Galveston as a detective for 40 years and a civil employee for another 15 years. Lt. Lacy, a highly decorated officer, was recognized by the Texas House of Representatives for his services to the Galveston Police Department, received The Outstanding Officer and Detective Division Award from the 50’s Club of Galveston, and an award from the Texas Peace Officers Association for outstanding services in 1997.