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Alabama Centennial Blog

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 rememberingthegreatwar.org 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 www.digital.archives.alabama.gov 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.


Osmond Kelly Ingram, An Alabama WWI Hero

October 19, 2016

By Graham Neeley, Curator, Alabama Department of Archives and History

“Pratt City Gunner Thrills Heart of Country By Tragic Death in War Zone.” Birmingham News, October 18, 1917

Ingram OsmondK1 edited

Thirty-year old Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond Kelly Ingram was the first U.S. Navy enlisted man killed during World War I. On October 15, 1917, the Alabama native was killed while attempting to release the USS Cassin’s depth charges before being hit by a German torpedo. For his heroic actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. His body was never recovered.

Born on August 4, 1887 in Oneonta (Blount County), Ingram was one of four boys born to Naomi (Bettie) and Robert Ingram, a Methodist Episcopal preacher and Confederate army veteran. Before Robert’s death in 1897, the family moved to Pratt City in Jefferson County. On November 24, 1903, at the age of sixteen, and with his mother’s consent, Ingram enlisted in the U.S. Navy. When his enlistment ended in August 1908, Ingram moved back to Pratt City and became a fire fighter. In August 1913 Ingram reenlisted and was stationed aboard the USS Cassin, the ship he remained on following America’s entry into the war. 

During the war, the U.S. Navy’s two most important roles were to halt German U-boat operations and to link up with American convoys to provide safe transport to ports in France and England. The Cassin was stationed off the coast of Ireland. While on patrol on October 15, 1917, the Cassin came in contact with German submarine U-61. Noticing that the U-boat had fired a torpedo that was headed for the Cassin’s depth charges, and realizing the potential damage and causalities it would inflict, Ingram made a last-ditch effort to release the depth charges prior to the torpedo’s impact. Although he was not able to release the entire load, Ingram’s courageous deed and sacrifice prevented the ship from being completely destroyed and saved many of his mates’ lives. On January 11, 1919, Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, informed Ingram’s mother that a new ship was to be named after her late son, the USS Osmond Ingram (DD 255). Ingram became the first enlisted man in the U.S. Navy to have ship named in his honor. The ship was docked in Pearl Harbor the day of the Japanese attack.

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USS Cassin (DD-43) moored alongside another U.S. Navy destroyer, at Queenstown, Ireland, circa 1918. She is painted in "Dazzle" type camouflage. Wikimedia Commons

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Painting by Charles B. Falls, depicting the gallant but futile effort of Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond K. Ingram, USN, to release the depth charges just before she was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-61 on 15 October 1917. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. U.S. Naval History Center.

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The stern of the USS Cassin after she was torpedoed by German submarine U-61 on 15 October 1917. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC.

Mont AdvIn 1920, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels wrote to his mother notifying her of the decision to award Ingram the Medal of Honor posthumously:

“For extraordinary heroism in the presence of the enemy on the occasion of the torpedoing of the Cassin, on 15 October 1917. While the Cassin was searching for the submarine, Ingram sighted the torpedo coming, and realizing that it might strike the ship aft in the vicinity of the depth charges, ran aft with the intention of releasing the depth charges before the torpedo could reach the Cassin. The torpedo struck the ship before he could accomplish his purpose and Ingram was killed by the explosion. The depth charges exploded immediately afterward. His life was sacrificed in an attempt to save the ship and his shipmates, as the damage to the ship would have been much less if he had been able to release the depth charges.”

In 1932, Birmingham’s West End Park was renamed Kelly Ingram Park and a boulder-like memorial was placed on the park grounds. The park served as an important site for protests in 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement. Ingram is listed on the Wall of the Missing at the American Battle Monuments Commission Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, England.
























Meeting of the Alabama WWI Centennial Committee

October 6, 2016 

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On Tuesday, October 4, the Alabama WWI Centennial Committee held its second meeting at the American Village in Montevallo. Members reported on a variety of commemorative programs that are in the planning stages. U.S. Centennial Commission member Monique Seefried shared plans for the refurbishment of Pershing Park to be the new national WWI memorial in Washington D.C. The meeting also included an overview of the new Alabama website, including this blog and other features. Members were encouraged to promote awareness of the Alabama World War I Monuments and Memorials Project, which seeks community involvement in locating and documenting the state's WWI monuments.

DSC 1416The Committee congratulated Honorary Chairman Rod Frazer on the release of the French translation of his book Send the Alabamians, titled Les boys d'Alabama: La Rainbow Division et la Premiere Guerre mondiale. Purchase a copy here.

A special thanks to Tom Walker and his staff at the American Village for their hospitality. 




Alabama's Own: Camp McClellan

September 21, 2016

In 1917 the U.S. War Department built thirty-two division-size training camps across the country. These facilities trained and equipped American soldiers before they departed for the battlefields of France. In Alabama, Camp McClellan near Anniston and Camp Sheridan in Montgomery played pivotal roles in our state’s wartime efforts on the home front.

Newspaper headline: Anniston Evening Star, May 18, 1917 

2016 09 21 143021The U.S. War Department established Camp McClellan on July 18, 1917 as a rapid-mobilization base and permanent National Guard facility. It was named in honor of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U.S. Army. Located in Calhoun County, Camp McClellan encompassed over 16,000 acres near the Choccolocco Mountains. It provided an ideal troop training environment and a direct rail connection to the Port of Mobile. By year's end, more than 27,000 troops were training there.  

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Panoramic view of the 113th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. February 26, 1918. (Library of Congress)

The men of the newly-created 29th “Blue-Gray” Division arrived in late August 1917 while construction was still underway. The division was comprised of National Guard units from Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Delaware. At McClellan, the troops were taught trench warfare and trained to combat a new weapon, poisonous gas. Rifle and field artillery ranges, trenches, and dugouts were constructed to simulate active combat. The 29th Division departed in June 1918 and served valiantly in France. Other units trained at McClellan during the war, including Maryland’s 1st Separate Negro Company, the 6th Division, and various other support units.

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Nurses of the base hospital at Camp McClellan (Alabama Department of Archives & History

Following World War I, the U.S. Army designated Camp McClellan as permanent training center, and renamed it Fort McClellan in 1929. The facility continued to train troops during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The base closed in 1999, but part of it is still in use by the Alabama National Guard as a training site today.

Source: Encyclopedia of Alabama

The following images are pages from a Camp McClellan Souvenir Book that was recently donated to Alabama Department of Archives and History by Derek Brown, Birmingham, AL. The entire souvenir book can be viewed in the Archives' digital collection.










Identifying Alabama's World War I Monuments, Memorials & Historic Sites

September 7, 2016


Did you know that the University of North Alabama has an amphitheater dedicated to students who served in World War I? What about the Rainbow Viaduct in Birmingham that is dedicated to the men of the 167th Infantry Regiment? Have you noticed the Doughboy statue in downtown Eufaula? Not long after the end of World War I, Americans and Alabamians began erecting monuments and dedicating sites in their communities to those who served and sacrificed in the Great War. Throughout our state you can find a wide array of monuments, memorials, and historic sites honoring the people and places that played a vital role in WWI. Unfortunately, some of these sites and memorials have become obscured by time. 

An initiative of the Alabama World War I Committee is to identify all of the WWI memorials and war-related sites found throughout Alabama. The Monuments, Memorials, & Historic Sites section of this website is an exciting new resource that will be one of many lasting contributions made to our state during the Centennial period. In this section, you will find an easy-to-navigate interactive map that provides GPS coordinates, images, and other detailed information on Alabama’s WWI monuments, memorials, and historic sites.

However, the list is not complete and we need YOUR help! Do you know of a monument, memorial, or historic marker in your community that is not included on the site? Do you have images or information about existing locations that will enhance the site? Have you found inaccuracies in our current content? Help us make the site a rich resource that can be used by scholars and the public for years to come.

Want to help? Contact Graham Neeley at [email protected] or(334) 353-4629.

Included on the site currently are World War I-specific memorials, multi-war memorials dedicated to local veterans, historic sites that served important roles during the war, and historical markers.


An Alabamian in the Harlem Hellfighters

August 24, 2016

During World War I, Lt. Gorman R. Jones of Sheffield, Alabama, served as a white officer in the 369th “Harlem Hellfighters” Infantry Regiment, an African American unit created in New York. In May 1918, Jones was onboard the transport ship RMS Moldavia. In the middle of the night, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat near the entrance to the English Channel. The survivors, including Jones, were left with only their life preservers toGormanJones keep them afloat in the chilly water as they waited for rescue.

Finally, the survivors were picked up by a British destroyer and taken to Dover. While there, Jones was hosted by an elderly couple. He left the life preserver that had saved his life with them and asked that they mail it to him should he survive the war.

ADAH 150 20140923 9940 EditLt. Jones went on to see combat in France. He was captured by the Germans and subsequently rescued by his own men. He received a shrapnel wound during the ordeal. When a surgeon informed Jones that he would need to be evacuated from the front and taken to recover in a hospital, Jones said, “You go to hell. I’m going to stay with the outfit. They’re fighting men.”

Jones did survive the war and returned home to Alabama. Mont Adv 002Eleven years later  with the help of London Post No. 1 American Legion, the life preserver that saved him from certain death was returned to him. In 1979, Jones' family donated the item to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, where it is currently on display.



Alabama WWI Commission Logo


Georgia Ann Hudson
[email protected]
(334) 353-3312


  • 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

"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo

The Lilly Endowment