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Alabama Centennial Blog

"From My Heart to My Sweetheart": The Wartime Love Letters of Romie & Rudolph Reid

February 14, 2018

By Haley E. Aaron, Manuscript Archivist, Alabama Dept. of Archives and History


War often divides families and separates loved ones. However, war can also bring couples together in unexpected ways. In July 1918, Birmingham native Romie Owen moved to Muscle Shoals, where she found a job working at the United States Nitrate Plant Number 2, one of the state’s largest war production facilities. Romie was working as a file clerk in the fall of 1918 when she met Rudolph Reid, a Mississippi native who worked in the office.

The couple spent almost all of their spare time together. Their dates were simple - eating at the mess hall, going to the movies, and spending times with friends - and their friendship soon blossomed into love. After Romie moved back to Birmingham in January 1919, Rudolph kept writing to her almost daily. After an extended courtship and engagement, they were married on February 8, 1920.

You can read all of Rudolph and Romie’s love letters in the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History's digital collection here.


From a Soldier Boy, September 1, 1917

September 1, 2017

One hundred years ago today, Dale County native Tullie Marcus Dean wrote a letter home to his family from Camp Mills in Long Island, N.Y. Four days earlier, Dean and his fellow National Guardsmen departed from Union Station in Montgomery for training in New York and then to the faraway battlefields of France. In the letter, Dean details what was likely his first trip northward from Alabama and the many sights and landmarks he encountered along the way. He served in Company G of the 167th Infantry Regiment, which would become part of the storied "Rainbow Division" during WWI.

This letter was published in the Southern Star newspaper in Ozark. It is one of many letters from Dale County WWI soldiers now on view in the Ozark-Dale County Public Library's WWI display. Special thanks to Berta Blackwell and Donna Snell of Ozark for sharing this terrific item with us.

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New WWI Exhibition Debuts at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

August 4, 2017

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On July 15, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) debuted a new exhibition at the MMFA in its Weil Graphic Arts Study Center entitled Sketching the Skies: Penrose Vass Stout, Alabama’s WWI Artist-Aviator. The exhibition is curated by ADAH Manuscripts Archivist Haley Aaron and will be on display through September 10, 2017. 

Q0000075977 smallBorn in Montgomery in 1887, Penrose Vass Stout completed engineering and architecture degrees at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1907 and 1909. He practiced architecture in Florida and New York until enlisting in March 1917. A member of the 1st Pursuit Group, 27th Aero Squadron, Stout was shot down near Charny during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for attacking a German artillery installation and battling five enemy pilots.

After the war, Stout returned to practicing architecture in New York and became well known for his designs of country homes, part of the wave of suburbanization north of New York City in the early twentieth century. He died in 1934 at age 47.

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Exhibited for the first time during the centennial of World War I, this collection features detailed sketches of military training, humorous aspects of camp life, the architecture of the French countryside, and Stout's view from the cockpit as he served as a pioneer aviator in the early years of air warfare.

In 2014, Nathaniel Stout donated his grandfather’s sketchbook and letters to the ADAH. This unparalleled collection provides an honest, deeply personal glimpse of the wartime experience through Stout’s unique artistic perspective. Most recently, in the summer of 2017, Stout donated his grandfather's wartime diary to the ADAH, enhancing an already rich collection with even more fascinating information and insight into the life and personality of Penrose Vass Stout. 

For more information about the exhibition, visit The Penrose Vass Stout collection is available to view online at

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Alabama Nurses in World War I 

May 10, 2017 

By Haley E. Aaron, adapted from Alabama Nurses in World War I, Alabama Heritage, Winter 2017

Nurses Audie Hill and Margaret Moffat in Red Cross uniforms standing outside the Red Cross headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, during World War I. From the Alabama Archives CollectionFor Alabama’s first generation of professional nurses, World War I provided not only an opportunity to serve their country, but also to define the future of their profession. For nurses who served at home and abroad, WWI served as a proving ground, giving them a chance to test their skills in a challenging environment. Alabama women served with distinction at base hospitals in France and Italy, serving capably as hospital administrators and developing new methods of treatment. 

Q0000099957Ida Carrie Seale during WWI. From the Alabama Archives Collection

Mid-career nurses who completed their training in the 1890s and early 1900s were well-prepared to meet the challenges they encountered at military hospitals in Europe. A few nurses, such as Julia Lide and Annie Early Wheeler, had previously served as nurses during the Spanish American War. Others, such as Ida Carrie Seale and Amelia Greenwald, completed specialized training and worked for years as public health nurses before volunteering for wartime service.


JuliaLideAlabama Nurse Julia Lide, ca. 1910. From the Alabama Archives Collection

Nurses serving at base hospitals in France often faced less than ideal conditions. Base hospitals were often set up in abandoned factory buildings and warehouses. When Talladega native Julia Lide arrived at the Third Division Hospital near Chateau-Thierry in the summer of 1918, she discovered that the building was “full of rubbish, dirt, and debris,” too dirty to house wounded patients. Lide and the other nurses quickly cleaned the building and prepared to care for the influx of wounded soldiers arriving from the nearby battlefront. In July 1918, Lide continued to care for patients as the hospital was bombarded by enemy fire. Although Lide survived the attacks on the base hospital, she fell ill shortly before she was scheduled to return to the United States. When she died on February 24, 1919, allies on two continents mourned her death.



Q0000095853Anne Mae Beddow (front row, 5th from the left) pictured with other St. Vincent's Hospital Nurses. From the Alabama Archives Collection. 

Conditions were somewhat better for a group of ten graduates of St. Vincent's Hospital who served at Base Hospital 102 in Italy. When they arrived in Italy, they were housed in a fully furnished villa that featured a ballroom and a stone terrace. Despite the beautiful setting, the realities of war were never far away. At the villa, nurses could hear guns firing in the distance and at Base Hospital 102, they treated Italian soldiers wounded during the Vittorio Veneto campaign. For a young nurses such as Anne Mae Beddow, wartime service in Italy inspired careers dedicated to service and innovation. After assisting with surgical procedures on the Italian front, Beddow returned to Alabama and became one of the state’s first nurse anesthetists. She was one of the first nurses in the nation to administer pentothal sodium, an intravenous anesthetic that was more effective than the drop masks and ether used during World War I. Pentothal sodium was used widely until the 1950s, when it was gradually replaced.

“Now, as never before, the trained nurse is coming into her own,” an article in the Chattahoochee Valley Times declared at the end of the war. Thanks to the dedicated service of Alabama nurses during World War I, the nursing profession gained increased credibility and significance.

BeddowAnne Mae Beddow during WWI. From the Alabama Archives Collection

 Q0000098551A page from Anne Mae Beddow's WWI scrapbook. From the Alabama Archives Collection









 ADAH D 295 20160804 3418 EditAnne Mae Beddow's Base Hospital 102 patch. From the Alabama Archives Collection






ADAH D 323 20160804 3452Anne Mae Beddow's St. Vincent's Hospital training pin. From the Alabama Archives Collection

















Montgomery Motor Corps Contributes to War Efforts

April 11, 2017

By Laura Newland Hill, Encyclopedia of Alabama

Q0000006841Staff of the Montgomery Motor Corps of the National League for Woman's Service. Alabama Department of Archives & History 

Left to right on the lower row: "Captain, Mrs. Fred S. [Florence] Ball; Adjutant, Miss Anna S. Ball; Lieut., Mrs. Gaston [Cecile] Greil; Lieut., Mrs. Leopold [Sophie W.] Strauss; Lieut., Mrs. W. H. [Kate] LeGrand; Lieut., Mrs. John A. [Kate M.] Flowers." Left to right on the top row: "Mrs. W. J. [Elizabeth] Hannah, local chairman; Serg., Mrs. Sidney [Selma] Winter, treasurer; Lieut., Mrs. Mose [Lillie W.] Scheur; Lieut., Mrs. Ellis [Nettie G.] Burnett; Lieut., Mrs. J. M. [Mittie] Nicrosi." (The identification accompanying the photograph identified the married women only by their husband's names. The women's first names were determined by consulting city directories from the period.)

The 1918 photo (above) of the women serving on the homefront in Montgomery is filled with an air of patriotism. The uniforms look sharp. The faces of the woman convey a serious demeanor. The photography studio background adds gravitas. The women in it are the officers of the Montgomery Motor Corps and they directed the activities of more than 100 local female volunteers who provided a variety of driving services to Camp Sheridan, the 4,000 acre U.S. Army post a few miles north of town. As was the norm at the time, the Motor Corps volunteers were identified with the convention of “Miss” or, if married, “Mrs.” plus a husband’s name. All but one are married.

In the process of looking for their names, I learned that several were rearing young children at the time. A few of them were Alabama-born daughters of German immigrants. Others were from families that had been in the country for several generations; two of them would serve as regents of the Peter Forney chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Montgomery. One was the daughter of a successful Jewish retailer in Atlanta. Another was the daughter of a well-known Methodist circuit rider. One had a twin brother who was drafted into the U.S. Army in late June of 1918. Their last names were ones that Montgomery residents saw on professional office doors, storefronts in town, and in local advertising for lumber, insurance, and dry goods. Given the purpose and requirements of the Motor Corps, it can be assumed that all the women knew how to drive and, in all likelihood, were using their personal vehicles in service to the country.

2017 04 11 112322WW1 poster using artwork drawn by Charles Dana Gibson and presented to the National League for Woman’s Service by the Federal Food Administration. Library of Congress

“As we close the second year’s work of the National League for Woman’s Service, we realize with gratitude the privilege of service which has been given to the League and through the League to several hundred thousand women throughout the United States.” Maude Wetmore, National Chairman, NLWS

The Motor Corps was one of eight divisions of the National League for Woman’s Service (NLWS). The league was established on January 27, 1917 to “organize and train the great woman power of the country for specific and economic service; to be prepared to meet existing needs; to be ready for emergency service; and to supplement the work of Governmental Departments and Committees—Federal, State, and City—and other official and unofficial bodies.”

At least 78 Motor Corps units were established across the country. The one in Montgomery was activated on April 25, 1918. The NLWS’s 1918 annual report recorded that the Montgomery Corps had 84 active, 21 reserve, and 38 auxiliary members. Florence Richardson Ball served as its captain. The unit had seven lieutenants, 16 sergeants, and 12 corporals. The Montgomery Motor Corps was divided into six groups, each under the command of a lieutenant, which were assigned to cover activities for a specific day of the week. The seventh lieutenant worked specifically with the Red Cross and had a driver on call at all times. (The NWLS Motor Corps was the official motor division of the Red Cross nationally until it developed its own in June 1918.)

According to a 1920 history of the organization, more women applied to join the Motor Corps than any other division “because of its originality, its daring and, as many imagined, its romance.” It also noted that the “requirements, discipline, and the hard unromantic work” expected of the volunteers “curtailed the active membership.” The NLWS adopted national standards for qualifying as a Motor Corps driver. Once a volunteer received her certificate she was qualified to serve in any of the units across the nation. Corps membership was restricted to women between the ages of 21 and 45 (or 18 to 50 for reserves). One could become a “full-fledged” driver after passing examinations in mechanics, driving, first aid, and signaling. Participants were expected to “live up to her pledge of definite hours of service and be on call for emergencies” and “keep herself and her car neat and of military appearance.” There was also a requirement for “a vaccination certificate and several injections of prescribed serums.”

 Q0000005547Convalescent soldiers from Camp Sheridan "enjoying a touch of home life" at the Montgomery Motor Corps's official roadhouse. Alabama Department of Archives and History 

“In order that southern hospitality might find expression without any ill effects to the sick boys, a prominent Montgomery woman offered her home as an official roadhouse…On each trip the boys were carried to this home where they enjoyed a half hour or so of real home life.” Account of activities in Alabama in the National League for Woman’s Service 1918 annual report. 

Providing assistance to Camp Sheridan was the primary focus of the Montgomery Motor Corp’s work. “The first work of the Corps and the most appreciated is recreational rides for convalescent soldiers at the Base Hospital on Tuesday and Thursday of each week.” Over the course of six months, at least 2,300 soldiers participated in this opportunity. Additionally, the Motor Corps volunteers transported approximately 80 teachers a day, starting at 6:30 a.m., who were teaching illiterate soldiers at Camp Sheridan to read and write. (A few of the drivers also served as teachers.) Assistance to the local Red Cross also utilized significant resources. Seventeen drivers were specifically designated for its service, which included 60-mile trips to nearby town to deliver supplies.

The Motor Corps did not curtail its activities when the influenza epidemic reached Camp Sheridan. “…each train coming into Montgomery brought anxious relatives of influenza stricken soldiers. The city taxi service was temporarily suspended and the distance to the Base Hospital was great. The Motor Corps came to the rescue and for a week every train was met and transportation to and from camp was furnished…Many trips to camp were made late at night through rain and mud…” The Motor Corps also provided transportation for women who volunteered to assist sick soldiers, and had the sad task of furnishing cars for the military funeral of a “trained nurse” killed by the flu.

Q0000006840Montgomery Motor Corps members with bouquets of flowers in front of the capitol. Lieutenant Kate LeGrand is in the driver's seat, and Lieutenant Sophie W. Strauss is seated behind her. Alabama Department of Archives and History

“Quantities of flowers, the gift of a local florist have been sent to the Base Hospital and distributed to the boys by the Floral Committee of the Corps. During the epidemic of influenza, when the camp was quarantined, the Corps collected flowers in their various neighborhoods which, with thousands of roses donated by generous florists, were taken out to the hospital.” Account of activities in Alabama in the National League for Woman’s Service 1918 annual report.

Other transportation activities were numerous. They included providing rides to the camp for relatives of sick soldiers who were unable to pay for other transportation; helping the Y.M.C.A. bring in singers for Sunday Services; transporting volunteers who distributed “books, dainties to eat, and flowers contributed by local florists;” carrying visiting football and baseball teams to the camp’s ball field; transporting the camp’s military band into town for events; chauffeuring Divisional Headquarters officials; and providing rides for Alabama boys who had returned from overseas wounded. On top of all of this, they provided transportation to the U.S. Department of Public Health’s malaria treatment and prevention efforts in the area and its assistance to families with sick babies. The Montgomery Motor Corps also regularly participated in parades, bond drives, and patriotic events within the 30-mile radius of the state’s capital.

Q0000006839Montgomery Motor Corps Sergeants Selma Winter and Minnie Anderson driving Division Headquarters officers at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama Department of Archives and History 

“To the Captain of the Motor Corps. Dear Madam:— I beg to express the deep appreciation of the entire hospital staff of the splendid work your corps is doing for the convalescent soldiers of this hospital. It is very deeply appreciated by the entire medical staff as well as by the convalescent patients themselves. Yours very respectfully, LEIGH A. FULLER, Colonel Medical Corps.”



For God, For Country, For Home: The National League for Woman's Service; Bessie R. James, The Knicerbocker Press, 1920.

Report of the Alabama Council of Defense: Covering Its Activities from May 17, 1917 to December 31, 1918.

National League for Woman's Service Annual Report For the Year 1918, Including a Summary for the Year 1917.



Alabama's Response(s) to U.S. Entry into World War I 

April 6, 2017 

The Albany Decatur Daily Fri Apr 6 1917 cropThe Albany-Decatur Daily, April 6, 1917

At the beginning of the war in 1914, most Americans supported the idea of staying out of the conflict, though U.S. businesses and manufacturers continued commerce with warring countries, providing munitions, food, and loans, primarily to the Allied side. In an August 1914 speech, President Woodrow Wilson issued a declaration of neutrality, saying, “The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men’s souls. We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.” Wilson was reelected in 1916 on his “He Kept Us Out of War” slogan. 

By 1917, Germany’s decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare and the interception of the Zimmermann Telegram angered and worried many Americans. On April 2nd, President Wilson addressed Congress asking that war be declared against Germany. In his speech, Wilson said “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Four days later on April 6, 1917, Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of a war declaration. Among Alabama’s delegation, only two – Representatives John Burnett and Edward Almon – voted against U.S. entry into the war.

For some though, the idea of entering a war in Europe was frightening and not in the best interest of the country. On April 8, 1917, Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in a letter to a friend in Montgomery, “I was grieving over the fearful world tragedy that fills all thinking minds and good hearts with woe.” In May 1917, a “Petition Against Sending Our Young Men to War in Europe” signed by 112 citizens was sent to Senator John H. Bankhead in Washington, D.C. The signers advocated "absolute neutrality" regarding the war in Europe, and suggested that it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to call for troops or enact conscription legislation.

Q0000048549Letter from Helen Keller to Mrs. Burton in Montgomery, April 8, 1917. Alabama Dept. of Archives & Historypetition resized"Petition Against Sending Our Young Men to Europe," May 10, 1917. Alabama Dept. of Archives and History 

Overall, Alabamians fully participated in mobilizing and fighting America's first "total war" of the twentieth century. Military mobilization engaged Alabama almost immediately after the U.S. declaration of war. In addition to providing 5,000 National Guardsmen and 7,000 other volunteers, Alabama contributed approximately 74,000 white and black draftees, called "selectmen," to the army. More than 2,500 Alabamians were killed fighting in the fields of France. Alabamians from all walks of life pitched in to help the war effort at home. Many joined voluntary organizations such as the Red Cross and the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense. Local communities, professors from Alabama State Normal School for Negroes, and women's clubs in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa organized canning factories to preserve Victory Garden produce and keep food affordable in their cities.

Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama 

IMG 3651Montgomery Advertiser, April 6, 1917. Alabama Dept. of Archives and History 

IMG 3647Carbon Hill Journal, April 6, 1917. Alabama Department of Archives and History 

IMG 3654Montgomery Advertiser, April 7, 1917. Alabama Department of Archives and History 

IMG 3645The Winston Herald, April 6, 1917. Alabama Department of Archives and History 

Q0000078172Mobile Tribune, April 2, 1917. Alabama Department of Archives and History 



Alabama Humanities Foundation Hosts WWI Professional Development Program for Educators

By T.C. McLemore, Programs Director, Alabama Humanities Foundation

April 3, 2017

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On Wednesday, March 29, the Alabama Humanities Foundation convened a teacher workshop to mark the centennial of the United States’ declaration of war in 1917. 26 teachers, archivists, and university scholars from around Alabama gathered at the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at Pebble Hill at Auburn University for a full day of presentations, discussions, and resource sharing dedicated to Alabama’s role in World War I.

After a welcome and introduction from AHF’s programs director T.C. McLemore and Draughon Center director Mark Wilson, Martin Olliff, editor of The Great War in the Heart of Dixie: Alabama During World War I, director of the Wiregrass Archives, and associate professor of history at Troy University—Dothan, laid the foundation for the day by introducing the war’s lasting effects on Alabama through infrastructure, urbanization, and the failure of the promises of racial equality to be enjoyed by African American soldiers returning from war.

Ruth Truss, professor of History and chair of the department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maiben3 resizedMontevallo, built upon Olliff’s presentation in her discussion of Alabama’s military contributions, including the remarkable efforts of the 167th (Alabama) Infantry Regiment, a National Guard unit of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division, in holding the front line for an unbroken 110 days on Croix Rouge Farm—northeast of Paris.

Jeff Jakeman, retired professor of history at Auburn University and current president of the Alabama Historical Association, talked on the impression of the war on public memory and contrasted Alabamians’ rejection of corporate remembrance—instead opting for local memorials—with the collective mourning and memorializing found throughout Europe.

After a preview of the Draughon Center’s traveling exhibit, Remembering the Great War: Alabama and World War One, Kirk Curnutt, professor and chair of the English department at Troy University, discussed early 20th century romanticism associated with war and the shift that followed WWI and its public exposure of the brutality of total war. Kirk identified this disenchantment throughout the later works of popular writers such as Hemmingway, Dos Passos, and Fitzgerald.

Wes Garmon, curriculum specialist with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and Merredith Sears, chair of history at Handley High School, wrapped up the workshop with tools teachers could immediately use. Wes shared troves of resources including a guide to digital archives and primary source exercises to build student historical competency. Merredith shared her students’ exploration of local history and their research of Randolph County residents who served during the war.

One 9th grade teacher from Auburn Junior High remarked of the full day, “I appreciated how knowledgeable the professors were and I thought it was a great use of the time to focus on content. I felt that all the topics we covered were useful to our curriculum as 9th grade teachers; I especially liked the cross-curricular aspect of studying WWI Literature and thought students would benefit from understanding the trend of literature before and after WWI. I found the local history aspect and ties to Alabama both interesting and useful – it will make WWI more engaging and meaningful to my students and it was information I hadn’t learned before in WWI classes in college. I was definitely appreciative of all the resources that the State Department of Archives & History showed us – the databases of WWI primary sources and the Gold Star database are especially useful to teachers like me who want to incorporate more primary sources into our curriculum.”

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Alabama Senate Approves Resolution Marking the Centennial of American Entry to World War I, Service and Sacrifice by Alabamians

March 15, 2017

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Members of the Alabama WWI Centennial Committee preview a new traveling exhibit in the State Capitol


March 7 was a banner day for the Alabama WWI Centennial Committee and its efforts to commemorate World War I in our state. Following an informative and productive meeting at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, committee members visited the State Capitol for a preview of a new traveling exhibit called Remembering the Great War: Alabama and World War I. The exhibit was created by staff of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Archives, and industrial design students from Auburn University’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design. It will be on display at the Capitol through next week before it begins traveling to towns and cities across Alabama. Visit for more information about the exhibit and where it is headed next.

DSC 0065Following the exhibit tour, the group took another short walk to the Alabama State House. Committee members watched from the gallery as Senator Phil Williams introduced two special resolutions on the floor. The first marked the beginning of the American Centennial period and honored Alabama’s response to wartime. The second honored the extraordinary service of Honorary Chairman Nimrod (Rod) Frazer to the state through the creation of the Croix Rouge Farm memorial, his book Send the Alabamians, and two additional WWI monuments to be installed in Montgomery this year. "I am proud to be an Alabamian and to have served my state and my country," said Frazer. "It is an honor to remember the soldiers from our state who fought in the Great War, volunteers and draftees ready to place their body in harm’s way for the cause of justice and liberty."

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“We are grateful to the Senate for recognizing this important anniversary and for encouraging commemoration activities in their communities throughout the centennial period,” said Committee co-chair Steve Murray.

U.S. WWI Centennial Commissioner Monique Seefried, who was present on the Senate floor, remarked, "I want to congratulate the Alabama WWI Centennial Committee for the work it is doing to educate its citizens about the service of its men and women who served in the War, in battle or on the home front and to commemorate those who gave their life for liberty and peace."


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 L-R Senator Phil Williams, Honorary Chairman Rod Frazer, Co-Chairman Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, U.S. Commissioner Monique Seefried, Committee member Larry Norred, and Co-Chairman Steve Murray on the Alabama Senate floor. 



Alabama's WWI Poster Collection Now Available Online

February 22, 2017I Want You

During World War I, many renowned artists volunteered their skills on the homefront, creating compelling and beautiful posters promoting the war effort. From patriotic images of Uncle Sam to stirring calls to arms, food rationing and the purchase of liberty bonds, these posters help us better understand the dedication of Americans in support of the war during very uncertain times.

The Alabama Department of Archives and History houses one of the most extensive and well-preserved WWI poster collections in the nation. The collection is rich with iconic, celebrated works but also contains an assortment of relatively obscure posters which have not been reproduced widely, if at all. During and immediately after the war, Archives’ founding director Thomas McAdory Owen actively collected posters and other war-related materials. Additional posters joined the collection shortly after the completion of the Archives building in 1940.

Not Just Hats Off For the FlagIn January 2017, the Archives made approximately 100 World War I posters available online in its digital archives. These colorful, striking graphics and their fascinating patriotic symbolism can now be appreciated by anyone with an internet connection. Copies of the posters can also be downloaded at no charge from the site. The Archives plans to begin making other posters from its collection (including those from other wars and events) available online in the future.

To view and search the posters, visit and scroll down to “Alabama Posters Collection.”

 For Every Fighter a Woman Worker





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Letters Home: Christmas Greetings from an Alabamian in World War I 

December 21, 2016Q0000075978

Alabamian Penrose Stout left a richly illustrated history of his service as a World War I aviator through his sketchbook and his letters home. Born in Montgomery in 1887, Stout enlisted in March 1917. 

A member of the 1st Pursuit Group, 27th Aero Squadron, Stout was shot down near Charny during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for attacking a German artillery installation and battling five enemy pilots.

After the war, Stout became a noted architect in New York and well known for his designs of country homes, part of the wave of suburbanization north of New York City in the early twentieth century. He died in 1934 at age 47.

While stationed in France during the Christmases of 1917 and 1918, he sent letters home to his mother with holiday greetings, warm wishes, and even his list for Santa. Stout’s keen sense of humor is evidenced in several of his writings. These letters along with many others and Stout’s sketchbook are now part of the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s permanent collection.

November 1917
A letter from Stout to his mother, Zemmie Stout Lawton, in Hartsville, South Carolina

Q0000075644Q0000075645“My precious Mother….One week from today will be the 1st of December and you and Tookins are already busy on your Xmas presents and it seems less than three weeks ago that I told you goodbye after your visit to Princeton. And while we are on the subject of Xmas, I don’t need a thing and the mail deliveries are so blamed uncertain that I hope you won’t attempt to send me anything. Of course if you knit me a pair of wristlets and a pair of 10 ½ or 11 grey socks with a couple of yellow stripes around the top, and put in some candy and a few cigs, the chance would be almost worthwhile.”


December 1917
Christmas card from Stout, stationed in France, to his mother

“There is no one for whom I wish more happiness on Christmas than my mother. So the best of it all for you and Cousin Joe and the household for Christmas, New Years and all the days that follow. I shall be thinking of the dearest person in all the world and wishing I could be with her and that person is you










 October 5, 1918
Letter written by Stout when he was hospitalized, recovering from injuries in France, to his mother

“…this is what I am writing Santa Claus for:Q0000075882

  • 1 hard propholoactive [sic] toothbrush
  • 1 box delicately scented glycerin soap
  • 6 film rolls for vest pocket Kodak
  • 1 pkg. bouillon cubes
  • 1 small pkg. good tea
  • 1 billy goat and red wagon

Goodnight, precious  -Penrose"


 December 24, 1918

Christmas telegram from Stout while stationed in Hyeres, France to his mother

“Love for XmasQ0000075934 -Penrose”










Alabama WWI Centennial Committee Featured in The Alabama Municipal Journal 

December 1, 2016

2016 12 01 100838The Alabama WWI Centennial Committee was featured in the November/December issue of The Alabama Municipal Journal published by the Alabama League of Municipalities. The three-page article written by Georgia Ann Conner Hudson of the Alabama Department of Archives and History details the establishment of the committee and its ongoing projects and plans to commemorate the centennial of WWI in Alabama over the next two years. A sidebar to the article written by committee member Gary Fuller, mayor of Opelika, calls on local communities and governments to begin planning for their own observances of this historic anniversary.

2016 12 01 105729With a total circulation of approximately 4,500, The Alabama Municipal Journal is mailed to all elected officials and top administrative and legal personnel of member cities and towns throughout the state along with members of the State Legislature and the Alabama Congressional Delegation. The Centennial Committee is most appreciative of the League of Municipalities providing this opportunity to reach Alabama's community leaders. We hope that this article will encourage them to begin thinking about how their local citizens can commemorate the service and sacrifice of so many Alabamians nearly a century ago.

Plans for a Community Commemoration Guide published by the Centennial Committee are currently underway. We hope to make this available to the public in early 2017.




A Wartime Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016 

As the 2016 holiday season begins this week, these items from the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s collection give us a glimpse of what Alabama soldiers serving in World War I experienced at Thanksgiving nearly a century ago. Click the links to view the documents in the Archives' digital collection. 



Q0000082165This Thanksgiving menu was served aboard the R.M.S. Aurania in 1917 to members of the 167th Infantry Regiment “Rainbow” Division en route to France. It is from the papers of Alabamian Lt. Col. Walter E. Bare, who traveled aboard the Aurania. The back is signed by Bare and other American officers who made the journey to France. While most of the menu is in French, their Thanksgiving dinner concluded with traditional pumpkin pie.  






Another Thanksgiving dinner program from the Archives' collection was for the men in Company B of the 26th Machine Gun Battalion, who were stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery during the war. It is dated November 28, 1918, the first Thanksgiving following Armistice Day several weeks earlier. The program lists the men serving in the company, provides a brief and entertaining company history, and includes the menu served at dinner. The troops enjoyed Thanksgiving dishes including oyster stew, traditional turkey, sage dressing, giblet gravy, minced pie, root beer, and other sweets and savories.



This letter, dated December 22, 1917, was written by Alabamian Penrose Vass Stout while stationed in France to his sister, Rebecca Stout, in Hartsville, South Carolina. In the letter, Stout reports that he had "a real good American dinner" for Thanksgiving ("turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the rest"). He tells his sister "of all the things to be thankful for, I found you at the head of the list." 

StoutDuring World War I Stout was  a pilot, eventually serving as a  lieutenant in the 27th Aero Squadron, First Pursuit  Group. The letter goes on to give detailed descriptions of camp  life, flight training, and the soldiers preparations to celebrate Christmas.


Taylor Field: Alabama's 1st Military Flying Facility

November 2, 2016

By Dr. Robert B. Kane, Director of History, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama

Images courtesy of the Directorate of History, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL 

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A Taylor Field Curtis JN-4 Jenny, taken from another Taylor Field aircraft, during a flight training mission

On April 2, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on Germany. To train pilots for combat in France, the Air Service established 32 training installations in the United States. One of these was Taylor Field, the first military flying facility in Alabama. The War Department leased 800 acres of land, 11 miles east-southeast of Montgomery for $4,000 a year with an option to buy for $32,000.

Taylor Field opened on November 16, 1917 and was named for Captain Ralph L. Taylor of Stamford, Connecticut. Taylor was commissioned a captain in the Nebraska National Guard Air Service on May 3, 1917, and sent to Mineola Field (later Roosevelt Field), New York, on May 23, 1917, as an aviation instructor. He was killed in an accident on August 2, 1917.

Construction of the airfield’s facilities for a primary flight school began on December 11, 1917. By April 16, 1918, the 128th, 129th, 131st, and 193rd Aero Squadrons had arrived at the field to begin training up to 300 students through an eight-week flight training course, using about 200 Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" and De Havilland DH-4 "Gypsy Month" trainers. To service these aircraft, the War Department established Aircraft and Engine Repair Depot #3 inMontgomery on the site of the former Wright Brothers flying school. Besides the flight school, facilities at the airfield included the post headquarters, 16 hangars, repair shops, warehouses, barracks, and a hospital.

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Aerial view of Taylor Field showing the school facilities, center, and some of the 16 large hangers, lower part of photo

Flight training began May 2, 1918. Major E. M. Hoffman was the first post commander. 2nd Lt. Charles N. Monteith succeeded him on July 9, 1918, and 2nd Lt. Kenneth G. Fraser, in turn, succeeded Lt Monteith on October 2, 1918. By the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the Taylor Field flight school had graduated 139 cadets and flown a little over 20,619 hours. Some of the graduates saw combat France during the war. With the war over, the War Department closed the airfield in April 1919.

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Ground view of the 16 large hangers, left, at Taylor Field

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A wrecked Curtis JN-4 Jenny from Taylor Field

By the start of World War II in December 1941, the hangers and many of the other structures at Taylor Field had been torn down. In 1942, as the number of flight cadets increased at the basic flight school at Gunter Field, just north of Montgomery, the US Army Air Force (AAF) reopened the airfield as Gunter Auxiliary Airfield #5 to reduce growing air traffic congestion at Gunter Field.

With the end of the war, the AAF closed the field in July 1946, and the War Department sold portions of the installation to private owners and tore down the remaining structures although aerial photos show the remnants of the installation swimming pool. A 1993 historical marker on the south side of Ray Thorington Road near Foxchase Drive marks the site.

In 2005, private developers established the Avalon subdivision along the northwest border of the airfield's former location, approximately 200 yards east of this marker and across the former southwest-to-northeast runway. A dirt road to the east of Avalon runs along the same path as the former main entrance to the hangars and a few homes were built along the east side of it in the 1950s. Lancelot Drive in Avalon crosses over the old main airfield road near where the dirt road terminates.

Alabama WWI Commission Logo


Amy Williamson 
(334) 353-4689 


  • Steve Murray, Director, Alabama Department of Archives and History
  • Maj. Gen. Sheryl E. Gordon, Adjutant General, Alabama National Guard

Honorary Chairman

  • Nimrod T. Frazer, Montgomery 

U.S. Commission Liaison

  • Monique Seefried, Atlanta

Committee Members

  • Greg Akers, Montgomery

  • Leah Rawls Atkins, Birmingham

  • Jim Baggett, Birmingham

  • Mike Bailey, Gulf Shores

  • Donna Baker, Tuscaloosa

  • Randy Bartlett, Auburn

  • Ken Bedsole, Abbeville

  • David Black, Florence

  • Berta Blackwell, Ozark 

  • Young Boozer, Montgomery

  • Borden Burr, Birmingham

  • Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cleveland, Montgomery 

  • Patrice Donnelly, Birmingham

  • Lydia R. Ellington-Joffray, Tuscaloosa

  • Stuart Foss, Birmingham

  • Gary Fuller, Opelika

  • Gen. Walter Givhan, Troy

  • Col. Joe Greene, Montgomery

  • Jan Gunter, Opelika

  • Laura Newland Hill, Auburn

  • Jeff Jakeman, Auburn

  • Gerald Johnson, Butler County

  • Tina Jones, Livingston

  • Mary Jones-Fitts, Faunsdale

  • Mortimer Jordan, Tuscaloosa

  • Jay Lamar, Montgomery

  • Ashley D. Ledbetter, Montgomery

  • Sebastian Lukasik, Montgomery

  • Clark Lundell, Auburn

  • Jo Screws McGowin, Montgomery

  • Shea McClean, Mobile

  • T.C. McLemore, Birmingham

  • Joel Mize, Tuscumbia

  • Darryn Moten, Montgomery

  • Graham Neeley, Montgomery

  • Glenn Nivens, Harpersville

  • Lt. Col. Larry Norred, Bessemer

  • Marty Olliff, Dothan

  • Michael Panhorst, Montgomery

  • Melvina Phillips, New Hope

  • Rob Riser, Livingston

  • John A. Screws, Birmingham

  • Betsy Simmons, Birmingham

  • Steve Trout, Mobile

  • Ruth Truss, Montevallo

  • David Tuck, Rockford

  • Ted Urquhart, Mary Esther, FL

  • Tom Walker, Montevallo

  • Johnny Waller, Montgomery

  • Mike Watson, Montgomery

  • Phil Williams, Gadsden

  • Mark Wilson, Auburn

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