Colorado in World War I Collection
During World War I, the Colorado Council of Defense in conjunction with the University of Colorado and the Colorado Patriotic League set up a project to record the contributions of the citizens and the communities of Colorado towards the war effort. A large part of the effort entailed clipping articles from Colorado newspapers at the time. These articles were concerned with individual servicemen and women as well as communities of Colorado. A concerted effort was also made to obtain detailed war records of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces during the war. An appeal was made through the state newspapers for this information, but with limited response. A second attempt was made in which war record blanks were printed and distributed to individual service men and women and their families to be completed and returned. This process met with better results. These records along with the newspaper articles formed the basis for this project.
Completion of this project was due, in great part, to the effort of Professor James Field Willard. Dr. Willard was the head of the History Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Willard had long campaigned for the compilation and preservation of the states’ historical records. Dr. Willard’s background in English Constitutional history apprised him of the importance of primary sources to the writing of history. In 1913 and 1914, Willard had surveyed public and private archival institutions in Colorado and the western states to determine the level of cooperation between these offices and to raise issues of concern on matters of historic document preservation and collection development.
Dr. Willard’s first project was the effort to document Colorado’s effort in the First World War. The project was funded by the State Council of Defense and the Colorado Patriotic League, which helped to give Professor Willard the initial authority that he needed to begin the project. The project also received wide support from Colorado’s newspaper editors as archival documentation blended with wartime patriotism. Dr. Willard had joined his search for historical manuscripts with the occurrence of a momentous historic event (World War I), and statewide enthusiasm to document their own contributions to the war effort in order to complete this historical project.
The Colorado in World War I Collection is divided into several categories: Project Papers, General War Records, University Of Colorado War Records, Newspaper Clippings, Personal Clippings, Publications, and Papers. Included are letters between Dr. Willard and individuals from towns and cities throughout Colorado regarding the War Record Blank Project. The War Record Blanks are completed forms that contain the vital statistics of men and women who served during World War I. General War Records contain information on all men and women from Colorado. University Of Colorado War Records include files on men and women who had graduated or were attending CU before their service in the military. Many war records in the collection have a photograph of the individual service member attached with their war record. Included with the war records are consolidated lists of the war records as well as records of University of Colorado students’ withdrawal for military and agricultural service. Newspaper Clippings hold articles clipped from Colorado newspapers with relevance to the war. The articles are grouped into categories of counties and cities. These categories are filed alphabetically. Personal Clippings deal with Coloradans contributions in the war. The clippings are organized by the surname of the individual. Publications include display materials, leaflets, news bulletins, reports, correspondence, Liberty Loan advertisements and other materials dealing with the war effort. Papers contain correspondence and documents pertaining to organizations involved in the war effort such as the Council of Defense and Red Cross. The Colorado in World War I Collection became the first collection of the University of Colorado History Department’s “Historical Collection”, which later became the “Western Historical Collection” and the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.
For additional sources in the Archives related to the Colorado in World War I Collection see the James Field Willard Papers; the President’s Office Papers, I-9-5, I-21 and I-22 for correspondence between the CU President and the War Department during World War I; the Vice President for Student Affairs, boxes 57-60 concerning Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.): and the Camp Funston Smss. Researchers must request permission for access into such University of Colorado System Administration records as the President’s Office Papers and the Vice President for Student Affairs. Contact the Archives for access.