Archives News – July 2014

It’s hard to believe it has been a year since our “Great Reading Room Renovation of 2013″ (try saying that 5 times fast!), but it has! We were pretty busy last summer with moving things around, and this summer we’re still busy, just in a different way!

On July 18, we celebrated our 5th Annual Living Legends of the Dayton Daily News Archive event. A huge crowd came out to listen to Dale Huffman, and we had a great evening listening to his stories up here on the fourth floor of Dunbar Library.

Dale Huffman telling stories during his presentation "From the Heart," July 18, 2014

Dale Huffman telling stories during his presentation “From the Heart,” July 18, 2014

This year’s Living Legends lecture also celebrated the grand opening of the Dayton Daily News Archive to researchers, as well as the donation of Dale Huffman’s papers to Special Collections & Archives.  In fact, Mr. Huffman visited us here in the Archives on July 9th to get the “lay of the land” prior to his presentation and also to see where his personal papers will be housed.

Dale Huffman, seated right, with Special Collections & Archives staff, July 9, 2014.

Dale Huffman, seated right, with Special Collections & Archives staff, July 9, 2014.

On July 21, we hosted a group of Dayton Public Schools freshmen from the Summer Bridge Dayton program. Dr. Herbert Martin was kind enough to come and give his interpretive performance of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry for the students. (He was just as great as we remember! Dr. Martin gave another presentation here in February 2012.)

Dr. Herbert Martin performs for Summer Bridge Dayton students, July 21, 2014

Dr. Herbert Martin performs for Summer Bridge Dayton students, July 21, 2014

Following Dr. Martin’s presentation, students also toured Special Collections & Archives, including original materials from our aviation, local history, and Wright Brothers Collections.

On July 28, we hosted one of Ohio History Connection’s “History to Go” vans. Several dozen children from the WSU STEMM camps attended and participated in various hands-on history activities. One of the classes even came back on July 31 and had a picture taken with the Orville & Wilbur life-size cut-outs in our reading room!

Dawne Dewey leads children in a History to Go activity, July 28, 2014

Dawne Dewey leads children in a History to Go activity, July 28, 2014

Also this month, we gave tours for a local chapter of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, as well as the Altrusa Club of Dayton (whose records we have: view MS-391 PDF finding aid).

League of WWI Aviation Historians tour, July 2014

League of WWI Aviation Historians tour, July 2014

Altrusa Club of Dayton tour, July 2014

Altrusa Club of Dayton tour, July 2014

In addition to many outreach activities, we’ve got collections news as well: You can see our latest list of new and updated collections from July here on the blog.

In digital projects news:

Just a few more weeks of summer now. We shall see what they hold!

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“Going home not as strong”

In this August 7, 1864 letter, William Patterson reports to his mother that he is getting better each day, but is still not well enough to join his regiment in Chattanooga.  The 1st OVI has been relieved of duty at the front and is awaiting mustering out.  He notes that in accordance with General Orders from the War Department, the regiment will not be mustered out as a group, but as companies in the order that they were mustered in.  His company will be the last to go which will be about October 7.

William also writes about a letter he received from his brother, Stephen, proposing an investment opportunity for his loose money.  William basically says he doesn’t know what he is going to do when he gets home.

The last portion of the letter is interesting in his comment about the 1st OVI - “They are going home not as strong as when they marched away from Dayton.  Many a poor fellow has bit the dust in the last three years, but there is one consolidation, we have made as many of them go the same journey.”

Transcript of William Patterson Letter, August 7, 1864.

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91st Observation Squadron WWI Photos now online

We are pleased to announce that the entirety of the 91st Observation Squadron, American Expeditionary Force, Photographs (MS_293) is now available online in CORE Scholar. This collection is just one of several World War I collections we hope to share online in the next few years, during the war’s centennial.

91st Squadron with banner (photo # ms293_01_01)

91st Squadron with banner (photo # ms293_01_01)

The collection includes 39 photographs dating between April 1918 and March 1919. This photos depict the airmen and operations of the Squadron during the end of World War I and the months following, including: airplanes and airfields, the men who served in the squadron, the squadron’s banner design, and aerial observation views of French and German cities and sites including Coblenz, Trier, Dierdorf, Bendorf, Sinzig, Blagny, and Carignan.

Aerial view of Sinzig Castle looking North (photo # ms293_01_33)

Aerial view of Sinzig Castle looking North (photo # ms293_01_33)

The following history comes from the collection’s online finding aid (PDF):

During World War I, the 91st Observation Squadron of the American Expeditionary Force operated reconnaissance missions 15 to 25 miles beyond enemy lines.  They informed A.E.F. Headquarters of movements on roads and airdromes and in railroad yards, which they observed from above 15,000 feet; they also reported on supply and ammunition dumps.

The 91st Squadron arrived in Liverpool, England with the 90th and 88th Squadrons in November 1917 and traveled to Hill 402 to construct an airfield next to the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters in Chaumont, France.  The squadron then traveled to Amanty, France where a school for pilots was operated.  However, flight training was delayed by the lack of adequate airplanes; well into 1918, only worn-out Dorand, Sopwith and SPAD aircraft were available for use.  Sixteen Salmson airplanes arrived by May of 1918, enabling the Squadron, with mediocre gunnery training, to begin operations.

The Squadron’s first mission into enemy territory occurred on June 3rd from their base of operations at Gondreville, France near Amanty.  The two-person crews of pilot and observer were subject to enemy aircraft attacks and anti-aircraft guns.  There was a high rate of death, disappearance and injury, particularly for observers in the last months of the war.  By the end of World War I, six pilots and three observers in the 91st Observation Squadron had become prisoners of war and three pilots and eight observers had been killed.  Twenty-one enemy aircraft had been eliminated.

From February 14 to September 15, 1918, Major John N. Reynolds led the Squadron.  In September 1918 Major Reynolds became Commanding Officer of the newly-created Army Observation Group, which consisted of the 91st, 24th and 9th Observation Squadrons.  Leadership of the 91st Squadron transferred to Lieutenant Everett R. Cook, who served as Commanding Officer until the Armistice.

On June 28, 1919 the 91st Observation Squadron was demobilized from active duty in Europe; it was remobilized on June 30 for duty in the United States.

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