Thursday, April 16, 2015

Santa Clara County Library raises books for GIs, 1942.

San Jose Mercury News, January 4th 1942.
I found this clipping on the Santa Clara County Library website. Private Sagaser is holding a copy of B. M. Bower's Big Book of Western Stories (Grosset & Dunlap, 1910). Westerns were very popular with GIs, but the Victory Book Campaign wanted new books.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles, 1940s

On the Los Angeles Public Library images site I found photos of Dawson's Book Shop, which was at 627 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles.

A portrait of staff and members of the Dawson family, including Glen, Muir and Ernest, in front of Dawson's Book Shop on the occasion of the store's 35th anniversary. 1940.

Book collector A. Edward Newton, center, speaks with Ernest Dawson in Dawson's Book Shop. 1940.

View of a parking lot located at Wilshire Blvd. and Grand Avenue. A few businesses, including Dawson's Book Shop and Mannings Coffee Cafe, are visible on Grand Avenue. A billboard asking for the re-election of Republican governor Earl Warren is seen above Dawson's. 1946.

Looking east towards the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue (center); seen are various businesses, including Dawson's Book Shop (left), office buildings, and billboards. 1948.
The all night bookstore table at Dawson's Book Shop, 1950.

Friday, November 14, 2014

When Books Went to War review

When Books Went to War is a WWII social history perfect for book lovers. During the war years book publishers, libraries, and the American public responded to this great conflict by donating millions of free books to US troops across the world. Early in the war the Victory Book Campaign collected millions  of books in nation-wide book drives. The Council on Books in Wartime, an association of publishers and booksellers, worked with the US government to produce millions of pocket-size paperback editions.

Molly Guptill Manning explains how good books saved GIs from homesickness and fought Nazi ideology at the same time. Hitler's regime sought to conquer minds through book burnings, the destruction of European libraries, and the disbursement of propaganda. American publishers and librarians promoted nonfiction books as a way to inform this country's citizen soldiers. Thought-provoking novels displayed the freedom found in democratic society. Indeed, the CBW was instrumental in combating censorship at home when Congress enacted a law limiting the kind of books sent to the troops.

Reading books lifted the spirits of war-weary soldiers and sailors. This was a relief to the individual men, and the increase in morale improved the fighting capabilities of American forces overall. Manning shares numerous letters written by GIs who were beyond thankful to receive their Armed Services Editions. In this excellent read Manning reveals books' importance to the war effort, while conveying the personal feelings of those involved: the passion of publishers and librarians and the psychology of men at war.

See Kirkus' book review.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WWII Army Special Services Librarians

"Want a good book?" Army Librarian section books for soldiers. Left to Right: Sgt. Seymore Grobzob, Virginia Hallowell, Elizabeth City (from Elizabeth City, NC), and Sgt. Caffey. US Army Forces, Western Pacific (AFWESPAC). Manilla, Philippines. August 19, 1946.
I asked the US National Archives if they had any photo of WWII GIs with books, and they sent me some shots of WWII Army Special Services Librarians in the Pacific. Sadly, there is little information to be found about the Special Services Librarians. They were part of the Women's Army Corps.

WWII Special Services Librarian patch. The 9 books represent the 9 branches of the Army. (found on eBay)
6000 New Books arrive from the States for Army Librarians. Left to right: Annie Laurie Etchison, Chief Librarian, AFWESPAC (from Cleveland, OH); Lt. Col. Justin Doyle, Director "A & R", AFWESPAC; Virginia Hallowel. August 19, 1946.
Left to right: Mr. Albaz (Manila) and Annie Laurie Etchison. August 19, 1946.

Further Reading: has a great post "We remember: Army special services librarians".

I discovered Books and Libraries in American Society during World War II by Patti Clayton Becker (Routledge). Unfortunately it is a rather expensive monograph, and it's a print-on-demand book (printed books are not kept in stock). I actually did order a copy, but over a month went by without receiving the book, so I canceled my order.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Books and Articles about Publishing in WWII

This month I was pleased to see some articles and books about publishing during WWII:

"Publishers Gave Away 122,951,031 Books During World War II" on The Atlantic, September 10, 2014. An in-depth piece on the Council on Books in Wartime.

"How 'Gatsby' Went From A Moldering Flop To A Great American Novel" on NPR's Fresh Air, September 8, 2014. Author Maureen Corrigan discusses how the Armed Services Edition of The Great Gatsby lead to it's post-war popularity (starts at minute 23). For more info you can read a similar article I wrote "WWII-Era Book Giveaway Boosted Popularity of The Great Gatsby".

American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street is being published by Princeton University Press in October. It's about all kinds of pulp paperbacks, but there is a chapter about the Armed Services Editions.

When Books Went to War : The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II is being published by Houghton Mifflin in December.  This new book focuses on the Council on Books in Wartime, but there is a discussion of the Victory Book Campaign too.

"Victory Book Campaign brought reading to World War II troops" in the Emmons County Record. The author interviewed me back in the spring, but I only just saw the article.

"Victory drive mustered thousands of books in 1942" in the Times Tribune. This piece focuses on book drive efforts local to Scranton, PA.

Monday, September 8, 2014

WWII Military Library Stamps 2

Stamp on the cover of Is Sex Necessary? by James Thurber, 1944.
The acronym NYPE appearing in the ship-shaped rubber stamp above stands for New York Port of Embarkation. New York City was one of the coastal cities where troops embarked to be shipped overseas. 

Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge, 1944.
From 1943 to 1945 the 52nd General Hospital treated wounded in the English Midlands. The medical staff was composed of graduates of Syracuse University College of Medicine. I found a photo of the hospital ward there on the US National Library of Medicine website. It looks like there is a stack of books on the table! New York Heritage also has a collection of photos of the hospital.

The Travels of Marco Polo, edited by Manual Komroff, 1944.
Ilag VII was a German internment camp built in Bavaria to imprison Allied civilians (mostly Americans and British) captured as German forces invaded Europe. The stamp above has the word gepr├╝ft which means "inspected and approved"—the Germans would not allow reading material that criticized their people or government in any way. This Marco Polo book was probably donated to the prison by the Red Cross.

Selected Short Stories, by O. Henry, 1944.
The publishers who provided books as Armed Services Editions were very anxious to keep these paperbacks outside of the US (for fear of flooding the market). Military hospitals were eventually allowed distribute ASEs, but they were supposed to be destroyed after the war. This copy of Selected Short Stories somehow survived its stay at the Fairfield-Suisun Air Field hospital (now Travis Air Force Base, California).

The Pearl Lagoon, by Charles Nordhoff, 1945.

Part of the duties of the Special Services Division of the US Army was to improve morale with books.

Great Smith, by Edison Marshall, 1943.
The War Prisoners Aid of the YMCA sent spiritual, educational, and recreational materials to prisoners of war in Europe. This book was stamped by the sender in Switzerland (the stamp was not put there by the receiving library).

My previous post WWII Military Library Book Stamps includes nine other stamped books.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Photos of WWII GIs Reading

I found couple nice photos of GIs reading in the National Archives collection. It looks like the guy above is reading a Pocket Book paperback. Here's the original caption: Enlisted men at the transmitter pool of the signal section of the US Seventh Army in Germany, relax by reading and playing cards in the enlisted men's quarters. January 3, 1946. (I cropped out the guys playing cards)

Original caption: These men of the 3rd Constabulary Regiment are shown as they make use of a few of theor off-duty moments in the mobile library which is being used at their station until the new library is ready for use. The 3rd Constabulary Regiment is located in Wetzlar, Germany, where they are in training for occupational duties. April 24, 1946.