Kirksville, in all of her rural glory, is abundant with World War I materials. Just on Truman’s campus alone, I have access to over 500 World War I propaganda posters collected by E.M Violette, Violette’s personal papers from the Great War, and a large collection of World War I letters and their matching Adair Country draft records. Truman also houses the collection of Adair County records for World War I women volunteers and various tangible artifacts from the war. Several former professors at Truman complied county and university histories, of which I have unrestricted access too. (They are in the You may touch these without assistance section of the archives). All of this, of course, is in addition to Truman’s yearbook The Echo, the school paper The Index, and Kirksville’s Daily Express.
Amanda Langendoerfer, Head of Special Collections and Archives, also known as my new archivist best friend, is virtually invaluable. She knows practically everything about everything and has even waved my copy fees at the library. She should be knighted for her efforts already. In addition to Amanda, one of my favorite history professors and specialist of Missouri History Dr. Jeff Gall, the Dean of Library Collections and Museums Richard Coughlin, and Janet Romine Head of Public Services are forming quite the dream team on Truman’s campus.
Fortunately (or unfortunately in terms of time constraints), Kirksville is home to the first Osteopathic Medical School in the world, founded by A.T. Still in 1892. My initial meeting with the A.T. Still archivist Debra Loguda-Summers revealed that D.O.’s were not considered real doctors during World War I and were not allowed to serve as physicians in the fields of Europe. However, they were allowed to serve in other medical positions like ambulance drivers. The Museum of Osteopathic Medicine and the International Center for Osteopathic History collections are smaller and slightly more disorganized (some of the items are still on the card system), but the staff is incredibly eager to share and assist me in my quest for materials. I have access to an ambulance driver’s diary, and countless other invaluable resources. And the nice part: a lot of it is available online, so I will have access to digitized versions for my site. Plus, because it is a medical school that emphasizes human anatomy, the online collection comes with a message: “WARNING: This site contains images which may be disturbing to younger viewers. Viewer Discretion is advised.” A sure sign of a plentiful collection, if I have ever seen one. I have access to the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, also founded in Kirksville, and an incredible letter from Teddy Roosevelt to Dr. Charles S. Green.
And a final, exciting note: Missouri is conducting a massive digitization process called “Over There: Missouri in the Great War”. I was worried at first that I would step on their toes, but they are more excited to help than to hinder. I have a project at my disposal that has been collecting data for months about Missouri in World War I. They just ask that I keep them posted with anything interesting I find!*
*Also, each archivists that I have visited with always quips excitedly that Perhaps you will find the missing box of ____. There always seems to be a great mysterious missing pocket of information in archives. Who knows, perhaps I will get lucky and dig up some long lost letters from World War I. Here’s hoping.