Scope and Contents
The 1919 diary begins with Hermannn in the vicinity of Coblenz, Germany, during World War I. In it, he describes his daily life, recreational activities, and work routine. The diary entries make special note of the many letters and cards he writes and receives, as well as his friendships with local families. Place names used in these entries include: Wallershein, St. Sabastian, Rhine River, Coblenz, Neunendorf, Ehrenbreitstein, Kaltenengers, Bubenheim, and Cologne.
Hermann's military service is as a clerk and his typical work activities include composing billeting lists, filling out qualification cards, creating roster lists, handling payroll and dispensation, and responding to professional criticism from his superiors. In addition to this he must also complete typical military exercises including short arms inspection, drills, louse inspection, records inspection, and as they ready to depart Europe packing the records ahead of departure and composing sailing lists.
Hermann makes special mention on the many recreational activities the men enjoy including listening to the regiment band, holiday parties, basketball, and baseball. He also reads the book, “God’s Country and the Woman.” There are many YMCA sponsored activities such as lectures and variety shows including circus performers, minstrel shows, and vaudeville. The YMCA also provides movies and Hermann attends “Manhattan Madness,” “Mutt and Jeff,” “Fatty Arbuckle,” “The Dawnmaker,” and a feature starring Mary Pickford. During this time Hermann tries and fails to successfully organize a Bible study class with the YMCA chaplain.
The WWI entries conclude in June with the men traveling west by train eventually arriving in Saint-Nazaire where they will sail for the United States. Place names mentioned include: Joul, Dijon, Nevers, Savenay, Angers, Sable, Gastines, Nantes, and Saint-Nazaire. He notes he “saw quite a few U.S. soldiers with French wives.” Also there was a spinal meningitis outbreak resulting in quarantine just days before they sail. The voyage itself was on the USS Artemis and takes twelve days to reach Hampton Roads. Hermann notes cheering and family reunions at Old Point Comfort before he departs Camp Stuart by train traveling through Richmond, Charlottesville, across the Blue Ridge to West Virginia, Cincinnati, and finally arriving at Chicago where he reports to Camp Grant. While at Camp Grant he is held up for several days due to a tonsil infection and missing paper work before he can go home to St. Paul.
The remainder of the 1919 diary describes Hermann’s readjustment to ordinary life in St. Paul including a few weeks’ vacation after discharge. He regularly attends movies including “The Outlaw,” and two Mary Pickford features, “Daddy Long Legs” and “The Hoodlum.” He hears President Woodrow Wilson deliver a speech on the League of Nations and Versailles Treaty. He also maintains active correspondence with his friends in Germany. His church activities are dominated by construction work as his congregation prepares to move to a new building.
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From the Collection: 0.25 Linear Feet
From the Collection: English