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World War I collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S1535

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a variety of items from World War I ranging from 1917 to 1919 and includes typewritten copies of letters sent to Oscar and Rosa Watkins of Indianapolis, Indiana from their son Osric while he served with the 94th Aero Squadron in France; two letters sent to Miss Ida Anderson of the Indianapolis News from Marie M. Burke, a nurse from Vincennes, Indiana who was serving with the Roosevelt Base Hospital Unit No. 15 in France; a letter and the 1918 semi-annual payroll documents for the 2nd Regiment company band of the Indiana National Guard sent by A. W. Wenger of Warsaw, Indiana to Capt. Walter S. Greenough of the Adjutant General's Office in Indianapolis; a Dubois County medal for patriotic service; Marion County Legion lieutenant and captain badges and lieutenant arm bands; patriotic pins; and Liberty and Victory Loan documents, window signs, and Victory Liberty Loan award medals. The collection also includes two small prints of "Uncle Sam" recruitment posters from World War II: "I Want You for the U.S. Army, Enlist Now" and "Defend Your Country, Enlist Now in the United States Army" (copyright 1940).


  • 1917-1919, 1940


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical Note

The June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by a Serb nationalist was the catalyst that started World War I on July 28th of that year. Initially a local European conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, it soon transformed into a global war that involved 32 nations. For three years, the United States maintained a neutral stance, but following continued hostile actions by Germany against America, President Woodrow Wilson went before Congress on April 2, 1917 and asked for a declaration of war. To fund the war, the government relied on a combination of new taxes and borrowing from the general population. The borrowing program was called the "Liberty Loan" and funds were raised through the sale of Liberty Bonds. The bonds were purchased by the public and the government agreed to repay the money with interest within a specified number of years. There were four Liberty Loan drives during the war and the fifth, the Victory Loan drive, took place in 1919 following the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The workers of the final loan campaign received medals cast from captured German cannons and were awarded by the "U.S. Treasury Department for Patriotic Service in Behalf of the Liberty Loans."


Federal Reserve History. "Liberty Bonds." Accessed July 10, 2018.

Kostyal, K. M. "100 Years Ago, the United Staes Enters World War I." National Geographic History Magazine (March/April 2017). Accessed July 11, 2018.

"Local Workers to Get Medals." Indianapolis Star (IN), April 18, 1919.

"World War I." Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2017): 1. Accessed July 11, 2018. EBSCOhost.

Yockelson, Mithcell. "They Answered the Call: Military Service in the United States Army During World War I, 1917-1919." National Archives Prologue Magazine (Fall 1998).


0.02 Cubic Feet (2 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as donations from Mrs. Oscar Watkins in 1930/03, Julia Walk on 1939/03/17, Helen Beatty on 1941/07/04, the Historical Commission, and others. American Red Cross pins donated by Marcie Page on 2022/12/09.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2018/07/11 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2018/07/11 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid updated 2022/12/15 by Lauren Patton.
World War I collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.