War Book Drive

Source: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

You Help Build It!

Source: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

I’ve been fascinated with these pictures ever since I saw them on Retronaut a few weeks ago. Both were taken during a book drive at The New York Public Library in 1919 for troops serving overseas during WWI. Poking around a bit I came across a terrific article from last July posted to one of the NYPL’s blogs, by Valerie Wingfield of the NYPL’s Manuscripts and Archives Division, about the Victory Book Campaign during World War II, which included a little bit of information about the World War I book drive recorded in these photos:

During World War I, the Library also participated in a book drive known as the War Library Book Drive. A report from that period reported that the NYPL, the central collection point, looked as though the books within the Library had burst through the hugh Fifth Avenue doors, and overflowed down the curb. The 9th Regiment and the members of the Signal Corps stood nearby. John Foster Carr headed the local drive. William Butt Gamble of the Science and Technology Division of the New York Public Library handed out short pieces of string and would cry out “Tie this round your finger! Remember to bring a book.”

That’s a Big Pile o’ Books