Memorial Day Closing

Special Collections & Archives will be closed on Monday, May 29, 2017, in observance of Memorial Day. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Memorial Day is a national holiday to commemorate the men and women who have died in military service for the United States.

The 322nd Field Artillery Regiment was formed on June 15, 1917, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana. The Regiment departed for Europe in June 1918 and remained overseas until April 1919. From September 1918 through the last day of the War on November 11, 1918, the 322nd participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Upon their return veterans of the unit formed the 322nd Field Artillery Association and held reunions every summer from 1920-1981. The following pages are from the souvenir program for the fourth annual reunion held on July 26, 1924, in Eagles Park, Dayton, Ohio.

1924 Reunion Program, Box 2, File 3 (MS-100)

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Out of the Box and On the Road: Early Manumission Record Part of New Exhibit at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

Special Collections and Archives is pleased to partner with the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio, by providing a rare item from its collections to be featured in their new exhibit, Freed Will: The Randolph Freedpeople From Slavery to Settlement. This exhibit, researched and created by recent WSU Public History graduate, Hadley Drodge, explores the origins and life of an early settlement of African Americans in the Piqua, Ohio, area.

Miami County, Clerk of Courts, Register of Blacks and Mulattos 1833-1847

The item to be loaned is a small bound volume from the Miami County Clerk of Courts that lists the names of the Randolph slaves, the subject of the new exhibit. In 1804, the Ohio General Assembly enacted the Ohio Black Codes to govern black and mulatto people living in the state. Under these Codes, free blacks and mulattos were required to register at their local court, proving they were free by providing emancipation papers or witnesses who could prove their “free” status and guarantee their good behavior with a monetary surety. You can see a name index of the Register by visiting our Emancipation Index for Miami County.

A member of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers, Special Collections and Archives at WSU holds local government records of eleven counties in west central Ohio and the complete listing can be found here.

Be sure to visit the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center to see this rare item and learn more about the Randolph slaves. The exhibit runs from May 20, 2017 through November 25, 2017.

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The World at War: One Hundred Years Ago This Week

One hundred years ago this week Naval recruit Palmer Bennett Coombs (1893-1959) was drilling at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Palmer enlisted in the Michigan State Naval Militia on April 6, 1917, the same day the United States formally declared war on Germany. He was sworn in that evening and received orders to report to Ann Arbor for training on April 11, 1917.

Unidentified Sailors possibly Palmer and friends

We are fortunate to know this because Palmer captured his personal thoughts and experiences in diaries from April 1917- January 1919. The diaries are held by SC&A as part of the Coombs-Learned Family Papers, 1819-1985 (MS-182) and available to view online through CORE Scholar.

Here are his transcribed diary entries for May 14-May 20, 1917, one hundred years ago this week. Coombs remained in Ann Arbor until May 23 when he and his fellow trainees boarded a train bound for the Naval Training Station Great Lakes in Chicago, Illinois.

Monday, May 14, 1917. Got up at 3:30 this morning and caught the 4 o’clock train going east. Manuel was with me as he had business in Detroit. Arrived in Ann Arbor at seven. Ate breakfast, came home and put on my old clothes. Reported for drill at 8:30 and spent the rest of the morning on Ferry Field. This afternoon we had practice in rifle sighting and then took an examination on Part one of the Blue Jacket’s Manual. After supper I fooled around the house and went to bed early.

Tuesday, May 15, 1917. Marched south of town and did some skirmish work over the hills all morning. This afternoon I took and passed both my sending and receiving tests in the wig-wag signaling. Had gym. work and more instruction in fencing. Tonight I cleaned out the room as I am the only one left in it. Harry has gone home.

Wednesday, May 16, 1917. Drilled on Ferry Field this morning. At eleven we went back to the Gym. and each man in the two divisions received $15 to cover room rent for six weeks. In the afternoon I had rifle sighting practice and wig-wag signaling. In the evening George and I did some ironing, got a “lime coc” and went to bed.

Thursday, May 17, 1917. Took a hike over south of the Boulevard and skirmished over the hills and captured the enemy, consisting of a herd of cows, which stampeded in its retreat. In the afternoon had instruction in advanced knots. In evening George and I tied knots, got a “lime coc” and went to bed.

Friday, May 18, 1917. Drilled all morning on Ferry Field. In Afternoon we went up by the boat house on the Huron River and semaphored across it. In evening I went up to hear the U. of M. Band concert and Senior Sing. Went to the Orpheum with Ralph and Jim Clarke. On the way home saw the Sophmores [sic] hazing a Freshman. Got some eats at the Busy Bee and then came home.

Saturday, May 19, 1917. Gave an exhibition drill before the Seventh Division on Ferry Field this morning, and they gave one for us. Were dismissed at seven bells as usual, but were not granted “shore leave” Sunday. Borrowed Ralph’s uniform for a parade tomorrow, and washed it after lunch. Went down to Ferry Field to see the Fresh-Soph. contest in Relay Race and Pushball6 . Fresh won first relay and the pushball. Sophs won second and third relays. Yesterday the Sophs won the light and middle weight tug of war. Fresh won heavyweight. Have a sore throat and my eyes are bothering me. Going to bed early tonight.

Sunday, May 20, 1917. Got up about 8:30 and had breakfast at the house. Fooled around awhile and then went to church with Mark Day. Shifted into uniform, went to noon mess and assembled at the gym at 1:30. Both of our divisions and Company I of the State Militia marched with the Knights Templar to the cemetery in observance of Ascension Day. Had lunch at the house and then just fooled around awhile and went to bed eary [sic].

Palmer Coombs’ Signature, 1918

Please continue to check back as we will be commemorating U.S. Involvement in World War I now through Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day), November 11, 2018.

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