Reflecting on the Anniversary of the WWI Armistice

The International and Area Studies Library has spent the past several months posting news articles, videos, and other resources related to the WWI armistice, which celebrates its 100-year anniversary on Sunday, November 11. The research about WWI is by no means exhaustive, but much information has been gathered over the last 100 years that can shed light on this period of time. Here are some of our favorite UIUC resources we’ve found relating to the end of WWI and the armistice.

World War I in the University Archives: The University and WWI:

This library guide details UIUC Archives holdings related to WWI, including information about the University’s Student Army Training Corps (SATC) and students who served. Materials can be searched for in the Archives Database.


A Guide to Researching WWI in the Library:

This library guide provides information about and links for searching library print collections, newspaper databases, and other digital collections for WWI research.

Red Cross Work on Mutilés, At Paris (1918):

In 2015, SourceLab published a digital edition of a film showing the work of Anna Coleman Ladd, an American sculptor who made facial prosthetics for World War I veterans. SourceLab is a group of UIUC faculty and students who create digital editions of historical materials. Learn more here.

1918: The year without a Homecoming

This post describes how WWI and the rampant spread of Influenza affected the UIUC campus in 1918. This story includes several photographs and documents from the University Archives.

This list highlights just a few of the great resources at UIUC for the study of WWI! For more information about researching WWI, contact the Global Studies Librarian, Lynne Rudasill, rudasill@illinois.edu,or visit the Center for Global Studies. 

 

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How Far Should the Library Promote Peaceful and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development?

Image from: www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

By Steve Witt, Head of the International and Area Studies Library; Director of the Center for Global Studies

Last week’s Glocal Notes post featured the coming centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War by telling the story of the destruction and construction of the KU Leuven Library. The Leuven library speaks to the efforts of the library profession to collectively donate books towards efforts to replace what was so tragically lost during the war. Books and libraries played other roles in the war, and librarians served both on the battlefield and in prominent roles aimed at getting collections of books to soldiers.

This begs the question of what librarians were doing to promote the cause for peace before the “Great War”? The UN International Day of Peace on September 21st provides an opportunity to reflect on efforts of librarians and bibliographers to promote peace and work towards ideals that promoted what the UN Declaration of Human Rights now calls the “inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race” – an idea that to this day remains elusive to both implement socially and instill in the consciousness of people.

In the early 20th century, librarians and bibliographers worked cooperatively to develop international professional networks and practices to both further the profession of librarianship and contribute to human progress. In Belgium, Henri La Fontaine (winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Peace) and collaborator Paul Otlet strove to organize the world’s knowledge as a means to bring about peace. To this end, Otlet created the Universal Decimal Classification System (UDC) and worked to organize all knowledge globally. La Fontaine and Otlet were trying to change the tides towards peace through what they described as “facts” and “institutions.”  La Fontaine asserted that:

“we must oppose facts which are in contradiction with [peace], but especially create institutions which will be the denial of the pretended anarchy existing between the peoples” (1911, p. 1).

The “facts” that La Fontaine sought to share were to bring people “in contact and induce them to enter in relation the ones with the others, notwithstanding the difference of their languages, opinions and races. The facts are the improvements realized by the conscious and unconscious contributions of men of sciences and technics (sic) pertaining to the most various peoples” (p.1). For organization, they worked to create a system by which the “scattered” small groups of specialized organizations could:

“become conscious of the immanent force which is at their disposal. This force we call internationalism: it is the strongest cause of peace” (p. 2).

Image from: www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

Librarians in the US were working towards similar ends, though often focused on using the public library as a vehicle for social change. Many urban public libraries were active in promoting peace studies and literature through their collections and engaging in what many contemporary librarians may consider Radical Cataloging. For example, in 1908, the Brooklyn Public Library published a 57-page list of books on peace and internationalism, and libraries in Denver, Boston, and Buffalo soon followed suit (Bowerman, 1915). By 1911, George F. Bowerman, Director of the Public Library of the District of Columbia, proposed the use of public, college, and school libraries to further international peace through the collection of books on peace and global affairs (Scott, 1911). The International Association of International Conciliation went so far as to insert cards promoting books and periodicals on the peace movement into the catalogs of American Libraries.

In 1912, the New York Library Club held a meeting on the topic of “The Relations of Libraries to the Peace Movement” (Quieted Germany, 1912, p. 9). Paul Brockett, of the Smithsonian Institution Library, “told of some ways in which librarians and teachers might co-operate to encourage the spread and accessibility of peace literature” (p. 9). The question of the profession’s role in advocating peace continued after the war began in Europe. At the 1915 American Library Association Annual Conference in Berkeley, California, George Bowerman gave a paper titled How Far Should the Library Aid the Peace Movement and Similar Propoganda? Bowerman asked his colleagues what they could do to bring about “peace that shall last” and whether there were “special considerations that may properly affect our attitude towards the peace movement” (Bowerman, 1915, p. 129).

Moving forward 100 years, we still confront many of these same challenges and questions that revolve around peace, justice, and role of our institutions in bringing these ideals into a reality for all humans. As we observe the UN’s International Day of Peace, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on the profession’s history of working towards a sustainable peace and consider ways in which we contribute to the UN’s goal for “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”

References:

Bowerman, G. (1915). How far should the library aid the peace movement and similar propaganda? Bulletin of the American Library Association, 9(4), 129-133.

La Fontaine, H. (1911). Salus Mundi Suprima Lex. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. New York and Washington Offices. (n.d.). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. New York and Washington Offices Records, 1910-1954., Volume 35(4078585). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Archives, Columbia University Libraries.

Quieted Germany. (1912). New York Times, p. 9.

Scott, J. B. (1911, November 6). Letter from J. B. Scott to N. Butler. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. New York and Washington Offices. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. New York and Washington Offices Records, 1910-1954., Volume 78(4078585). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Archives, Columbia University Libraries.

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World War I Centenary: The Destruction of the KU Leuven Library

The 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I is coming up in November, so to honor the centenary, the International and Area Studies Library is sharing resources and coverage of the war throughout the semester.

On my first official day as a graduate assistant at the International and Area Studies Library, I stared at the computer, my browser full of open tabs as I looked for more information on the German destruction of the Catholic University of Leuven Library. I remembered hearing a story about the August 25, 1914, fire when I went on a spring break class trip to Belgium during my freshman year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mariah Schaefer in front of the KU Leuven Library

This is me in front of the KU Leuven Library.

My group, consisting of freshman students in the College of Media James Scholar program; an academic advisor; her mom; and Lisa Romero, the Communications Librarian at the University of Illinois Library, took a tour of the KU Leuven campus. Our guide, whose name I don’t remember, told us about how the Germans violently burned the city of Leuven, destroying many buildings, including the KU Leuven Library.

As we stopped in front of the library, he told us the rest of the story. Following the destruction of the library, academics around the world mobilized to help the KU Leuven Library. A librarian at the University of Manchester collected more than 55,000 donated books in ten years.

Fernanda Schaefer in front of the KU Leuven LIbrary

My twin sister, Fernanda Schaefer, points to the name of the University of Illinois carved on the KU Leuven Library building.

In the United States, the National Committee of the United States for the Restoration of the University of Louvain and the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which Herbert Hoover chaired, started raising money to construct a new library building. Many American academic and cultural institutions, including the University of Illinois and the New York Public Library, contributed to the fund.

Because of the money raised, KU Leuven began the construction of the new building in 1921. The library was completed in 1928. To show appreciation for the generosity of the American institutions, KU Leuven carved the names of the donors on the front of the new library building. The University of Illinois is in a prominent spot on the wall.

Note: Unfortunately, the KU Leuven Library was destroyed once again on May 16, 1940. After World War II, the building was reconstructed to look like the 1928 version and became fully operational only in 1951.   

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Reviving a Revolution: Exploring Newspapers at the Slavic Research Lab

Zohra Saulat with her poster at BOBCATSSS 2018

By Zohra Saulat

When I decided to pursue librarianship, I did not imagine that it would take me across the world. Just a few short weeks ago I had the opportunity to present one of my projects in Riga, Latvia for the 2018 BOBCATSSS symposium. Not only was this my first ever library conference, but this was the first time I traveled to Europe. The experience itself was exciting, but I was also thrilled to share my project, which had its start on campus at the International and Area Studies Library.

The exhibit about the Russian Revolution was on display in the main library for the month of September 2017.

 

 

This past summer, I assisted with IAS’ Slavic Summer Research Laboratory (SRL). Since 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Revolution, one of my duties to was to help create a banner that would accompany a library exhibit commemorating the historical event. The library exhibit featured memoirs and artifacts from the library’s Slavic collection as well as from the University Archives. My specific task was to survey how historical English language newspapers around the world were reporting on the events of the Russian Revolution. I used both microfilm copies as well as digitized newspapers.

 

Screenshot of a Daily Illini article about a Russian chemist

Using the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections, I started local and looked to see if the Daily Illini was reporting on the Revolution in 1917. I was pleased to find a few articles that featured the Russian Revolution. One was of Illinois faculty member Dr. Simon Litman giving a series of lectures. Another was of a student, who was also a refugee from Russia, as well as a library worker, who also gave a talk on the events of the revolution. Another was a brief feature on a female Russian chemist who was continuing her studies on campus since all universities in Russia were closed at the time of the Revolution.

I further expanded my search to American newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune as well as international newspapers Sunday Times of London, Times of India, and the North China Herald.  It was especially interesting to see how oppressed groups were reporting on this particular Revolution. In all the newspapers I examined,I realized that there seemed to be a lot of information circulating regarding the Russian Revolution. There was indeed a lot of buzz as well as philosophical musings, but I noticed there was also a trend of rectifying supposed misinformation. Take the highlighted Daily Illini newspaper articles as examples. The events on campus were designed to refute certain information and present what the revolution was supposedly really like. This makes sense; In a time of war and political upheaval especially, not only is there information overload, but also misinformation.

Screenshot of a Daily Illini article about Dr. Simon Litman

Newspapers provide a fascinating historical insight. In 2018, whether a news article or a tweet (presidential or personal), a lot of information is found and preserved online. But 100 years ago, newspapers were the go-to for current information. If you are interested, be sure to check out the library guide on using newspapers as primary sources, also listed at the end of this post.

As someone who studied history in undergrad, I naturally enjoyed the nature of this project. But my favorite aspect was seeing its progression: that is,  the process from start to finish, and the collaboration with a variety of experts and specialized departments to put together an exhibit for public consumption. These resources –  whether digitized online or preserved as physical copies – are waiting to see the light of day once again. Libraries contain such valuable information. Often it takes the conscious efforts of a team of librarians and archivists to revive a revolution. I may be a little biased, but libraries truly are remarkable.

Zohra presenting her poster on-stage at BOBCATSSS 2018

Resources:

http://guides.library.illinois.edu/periodicalshttp://guides.library.illinois.edu/periodicals
https://www.library.illinois.edu/hpnl/newspapers/
http://idnc.library.illinois.edu/cgi-bin/illinois?a=cl&cl=CL2&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——–
http://guides.library.illinois.edu/OrientationtoSRL
http://reeec.illinois.edu/programming-and-events/summer-research-laboratory/srl-application/
https://bobcatsss2018.lu.lv/
https://19172017.weebly.com/

Zohra Saulat
Graduate Assistant | Undergraduate Library
MSLIS Candidate | School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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