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World War I Records

World War I Records

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:World War, 1914-1918
Title:World War I Records
Quantity:15.75 linear feet (23 boxes, 7 oversize folders)
Abstract:The World War I Records include correspondence, circulars, orders, regulations, and individual registration records created during the war by the Selective Service System and by the Liberty Loan Committees.
Identification:MM 22

Series List

SERIES I. Selective Service Records, Local Board, Salem, MASERIES II. Liberty Loan Committee of Salem Records
SERIES III. General World War I Papers
SERIES IV. Battery C, 301st Field Artillery Records

Scope and Content Note

The World War I Records include correspondence, circulars, orders, regulations, and individual registration records created during the war by the Selective Service System and by the Liberty Loan Committees. This collection has been arranged into four series.

Series I. Selective Service Records, Local Board, Salem, MA include correspondence, circulars, lists of registrants and individual registrant cards, along with printed rules and regulations used by members of the local board during the draft and registration procedures. Subseries A. Correspondence, Circulars and Orders include correspondence between local board members in Salem and the Massachusetts state headquarters, along with circulars and orders detailing updated procedures or policy changes. Subseries B. Registrants include individual registration cards for those men enrolled for service through the Salem local board. These records are arranged alphabetically and contain vital statistics about each registrant, in either card or paper format. The records occur in three different sizes: 3x5in. index cards, 5x7in. cards, and letter size paper. Subseries C. Regulations include versions of Selective Service System rules and regulations regarding procedures for registration, medical examination and dismissal, family allowances, and legal issues facing members of the military and naval forces. Subseries D. Financial Records includes bills and receipts generated by the Local Board in Salem.

Series II. Liberty Loan Committee of Salem Records include correspondence, loan literature and advertising created and disseminated by the Liberty Loan Committee of Salem to encourage the sales of the four Liberty Loans and the Victory Liberty Loan. Newspaper clippings from the Salem Evening News record the loan committee's efforts and document additional advertising campaigns. The material found in Box 14, Folders 1-4 was used by Marblehead Creative Arts for an exhibit in January 1970.

Series III. General World War I Papers include printed regulations for the United States Army, correspondence, and two scrapbooks of war and political cartoons from 1915-1918. The newspaper clippings in the scrapbooks were cut from the Boston Evening Transcript. Photocopies of the clippings are available for review while the originals are restricted.

Series IV. Battery C, 301st Field Artillery Records includes a battery flag, map and pamphlets created by members of Battery C of the 301st Field Artillery regiment while serving in World War I. The map is a humorous account of the regiment's movements throughout the war and the accompanying pamphlet provides further insight into the regiment's war time experience.

Historical Sketch

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, affectively ending the policy of non-intervention that the county had maintained since the start of the war in 1914. The Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917 established the Selective Service System, its purpose being to administer a draft of all eligible male citizens and all men who had declared their intention to become citizens, between the ages of 21 to 30. Local civilian boards were established to administer the registration and to run the draft reports to state headquarters under the general supervision of the Office of the Provost Marshal General (OPMG), War Department. On September 12, 1918, age requirements for the draft were amended to include men between the ages of 18 to 45. Within months of the draft, 700,000 men were raised for service in the United States military. The army and navy mobilization calls were canceled by the Secretary of War on November 11 and 13, 1918 respectively with the end of the war. Local boards were ordered to close no later than December 10, 1918 and all state headquarters were closed by May 21, 1919. The OPMG was terminated on July 15, 1919.

To support the allied cause in World War I, the United States began selling a Liberty bond, known as a Liberty Loan. Beginning on April 24, 1917, the Emergency Loan Act authorized the first issue of the Liberty Loan. Liberty Loan committees were organized in all sections of the country to canvas the populous for financial support. The campaigns often relied on patriotism to inspire the American public to buy the bonds. The Second Liberty Loan was authorized on October 1, 1917; the Third Liberty Loan on April 5, 1918; and the Fourth Liberty Loan was authorized on September 28, 1918. A fifth bond issued, known as the Victory Liberty Loan, was released on April 21, 1919. Through the selling of Liberty bonds, the Treasury Department raised over 21 billion dollars for the war effort.

Battery C of the 301st Field Artillery was mobilized at Camp Devens, later known as Fort Devens, in Ayer, Massachusetts in 1917. The regiment embarked for England in July 1918 before leaving for France in August of the same year. The regiment returned to the United States in January 1919 and was officially mustered out of service on January 18, 1919, in Camp Devens.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Liberty bond
Soldiers--United States--Salem (Mass.)--1914-1918
United States--Military history
United States--Selective Service System
World War, 1914-1918


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Box 15, folder 4 is restricted due to fragility. Some of the oversized newspaper clippings, posters, and signs may be too large or fragile to photocopy. Copying is at the discretion of library staff.

Administrative Information


Request for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

World War I Records, MM 22, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was acquired through various sources. The World War I posters were donated from various sources. Webber Lot donated some of the National War Garden Commission and U. S. Food Administration posters on June 9, 1919. Mr. H. C. Farwell donated the Campaign for World Economic Cooperation poster on June 1938. One of the American Library Association posters was a gift from Harold Smith Walker in 1946. The U. S. Marines and U. S. Navy posters were a gift from Mrs. Ethel Grant Cary on May 10, 1949. James C. Trumbull donated the 301st Field Artillery, Battery C material on December 9, 1971. The general World War I regulations were a gift from Mrs. George G. Loring on December 16, 1975. Miss Mary R. Cate donated the Liberty Loan material used in the Marblehead Creative Arts exhibit (accession #8251). Additional material was found in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Halley Grogan, June 2012.

Related Material

Salem Public Safety Committee Records, 1917-1919, MM 26

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