War History Commission News Letter, January 1920
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War History Commission News Letter No. 5 State Capitol, Richmond, VA. January, 1920 Monthly Meeting of the War History Commission The meeting was held in the Senate Chamber on the evening of December 16th, 1919. Those present were: Mr. Arthur Kyle Davis, Chairman; Miss Julia Sully, Judge R. R. Prentis, Rt. Rev. D. J. O'Connell, Dr. Edward N. Calisch, the Hon. Harry St. George Tucker, and Dr. H. R. Mellwaine, section chairman; Col Henry W. Anderson associate member of the commission; Major M. M. Milton, Capt. E. C. Watson, Major John P. Leary, Mr. Gaston Lichtenstein, and Father J. A. Kellcher, contributing members; Mrs. Frantz Naylor, Norfolk, Va.; Mrs. Homer L. Ferguson, Newport News, Va.;Mrs. Bradley S. Johnson, Goochland county, Va.; Mr. J. Walton Hall, Hanover county; Mr. George E. Haw, Hanover county; Mr. S. B. Quillen, Russell county; Mr. W. A. Wygal, lee county, local members. The Hon. Rosewell Page came in later. Dr. H. R. McIlwaine acted as secretary. Reports were asked for by the chairman from the various members present, and these reports gave rise to considerable comment and discussion. Dr. E. N. Calisch, chairman of Section 11, Pre-War Conditions and Activities, reported that he has been absent from town for some times and had returned so recently as not to be able to find out exactly how many replies had been received at the office to the questionaires [questionnaires] sent out, but that he was under the impression that the work of collecting the necessary data was progressing favorably, especially since the sending out, as a model, of the paper received from Clifton Forge some time ago in reply to the questionnaire. He said that he had not been present at the third quarterly meeting of the commission on November 12th, being unavoidably detained, and that he had only just read the News Letter of the offer made by Mr. Alfred B. Williams, as reported by the chairmen at that meeting, to give six weeks of his time without remuneration to the work of this section; and he asked for an explanation saying that Mr. Williams had not communicated with him on the subject. The chairman state that Mr. Williams' offer had possibly been misunderstood, but that it had never been the intention of the chairman of the commission to encourage Mr. Williams to go ahead with his work until he had consulted with Dr. Calisch, the chairman of his section, and had his plan approved. The chairman announced that the Editorial Committee of the commission had had a meeting in the afternoon and made a tentative alotment [allotment] of space in the proposed three-volume to the several sections of the commission, except those having to do with active military service, and said that 60 pages had been provisionally allotted to the section on Pre-War Conditions and Activities. He asked Dr. Calisch replied that personally he thought it was, but before making definite answer would like to consult with his associates, Dr. H. L. Smith and Mr. Alfred B. Williams. When Section III, Virginia Churches in War Time, was called, neither the chairman nor any one of his associates was found to be present. Mrs. Frantz Naylor of Norfolk, however, reported that the clergymen in Norfolk had generally found considerable fault with the church questionnaire on the ground that it asked for so much detailed information that it discouraged attempts on the part of the ministers to do anything with it. The chairman explained that the questionnaire had been prepared only after much thought on the part of the section chairman and his associates, and that he had no authority to change it even if he wished to do so; that he did not, in fact, think that any change should be made; that the ministers of the State were not expected in every case to be able to answer absolutely all the question asked but that they should be urged merely to make and honest effort to answer as many of them as possible. He said, also, that at the request of Bishop Denny, it would be stated on copies of questionnaires sent out in the future that the answers ought not to be given on the questionnaire itself, but on another sheet. No representative of Section IV, Virginia Schools and Colleges in the War, was present, but the chairman announced that satisfactory explanation of absence had been sent. He also announced that the college questionnaire had been prepared and set out some time ago, and that the school questionnaire was being prepared by the Hon. Harris Hart, Supt. of Public Instruction, and that it would be ready shortly. Judge R. R. Prentis, chairman of Section V, Political Contributions of Virginia, reported that he had little, if anything, to report, additional to what he had reported at previous meetings; that the work of his section was under way, being done principally by Dr. Lindsay rogers. He said that he was present at the meeting rather to show his interest than to make a report. The chairman handed Judge Prentis a letter he had received from Dr. Rogers asking that an alotment [allotment] of $200.00 be made from the commission appropriation, to enable him to secure someone to make a thorough examination of the Congressional Record for the part played by Virginians in congress during the war. After reading the letter Judge Prentis said that he approved the request highly, and urged that expenditure be made. The chairman announced that the Personnel Committee had already, in the afternoon, anticipated the request of the chairman of the section and voted that the amount be furnished. Col. Anderson asked Judge Prentis if it was his idea that for the purpose of our War History, President Wilson should be considered as Virginian. Judge Prentis replied that he was not prepared to give a definite answer. Dr. McIlwaine asked if the services of such a man as Judge Barton Payne, chairman of the U. S. Shipping Board, who was born and educated in Virginia, and was in all his sympathies still a Virginian though he had lived away from the State for many years, would be considered by Judge Prentis and his associates in their chapter of the proposed history. Judge Prentis replied that he had been of the opinion, though it was not a final one, that only the services of those men living in Virginia at the time of the war, would come within the purview of his committee. Chairman Davis suggested that Judge Payne possibly, seeing that his services were not political but administrative, would be treated of in the section of Virginians of Distinguished service. Mrs. Naylor remarked that if he was born, as it had been stated, in Fauquier county, she was absolutely sure that Mrs. William C. Marshall, chairman of the local county branch, would see to it that he received somewhere in the history proper precognition. Three representatives of Section VI, Draft Law and Virginia Organizations, were present, namely, Major M. M. Milton, Major John P. Leary and Captain E. C. Walton, and they all reported that the pieces of work assigned them by the chairman of the section had been nearly completed. These encouraging reports would have delighted General Stern, the chairman of the section, who was absent for the first time from any meeting of the commission. When Major Milton, the first of the officers to be called on, modestly stated that he was not absolutely certain his presence at the meeting had been expected, the chairman explained that all meetings of the commission were open to all its members, and that, furthermore, every member had a right to vote on all questions which might arise. In order that this point might be explained fully, he had the secretary read the article in column 3 of page 1 of News letter No. 4, headed, "The Question of Voting." In Connection with the work of section VI, the chairman reported that through the efforts of Col. John A. Cutchins, a contributing member of the commission, the commission would receive a complete history of the 29th Division. The Hon. Harry St. George Tucker chairman of section VIII, Economic Conditions in War-Time, said that he thought that the work of his section was progressing satisfactorily, and that he and his associates were prepared to conform in the matter of space to the assignment made by the Editorial Committee. The chairman asked Mr. Tucker if it would be possible for him to represent the Virginia War History Commission at the meetings in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 29th and 30th of this month, of the National Association of State War History Organizations, which are to be held in conjunction with those of the American Historical Association. Mr. Tucker replied that he thought he could arrange to be present. Col. Henry W. Anderson, a associate of Section XII, the Red Cross in Virginia, reported that he had not been able to have a conference with Dr. McConnell, his section chairman, but that in one place or other the information to be used by his section was a matter of record and readily available. he did not think that a detailed questionnaire, accordingly, was necessary. He thought, too, that a limited space in the proposed war history was all that would be required for such a treatment of the topic as it demanded; the 65 pages tentatively assigned by the editorial committee would, he thought, be sufficient. Mrs. Naylor said that Mirs. Southgate Leigh, of Norfolk, had proposed a questionnaire for nurses, which questionnaire, with a letter from Mrs. Leigh, she read to the commission. Co.. Anderson said that he thought that good results would be accomplished by the use of this questionnaire. Accordingly, on motion, the questionnaire was adopted by the commission. Miss Julia Sully, chairman of Section XIII, War Work and Relief Organizations, reported that she wished to make certain changes in one or two of the questionnaires and in the work of her section. These changes were all approved by the commission. She said, also, that she did not think that the negro collaborators were accomplishing anything of importance, owing to the fact that they had no money to expend even for postage stamps. it was decided that after consultation with Father Hannigan, Miss Sully should report to the chairman of the commission the amount of money which she thought should be allotted. Continuing, Miss Sully said that she had been much encouraged recently by a visit to the headquarters of the Norfolk Branch of the War History Commission, where she found a great deal of effective work being done. She asked whether fraternal organizations would be considered as coming within the scope of her work, and being answered in the affirmative by the chairman, requested that an additional associate, a man, should be assigned her. This request was allowed by the commission. She thought that 65 pages would be sufficient space to be allotted her section in the three-volume history. Dr. H. R. McIlwaine, chairman of Section XIV, War-Letters, Diaries and Incidents, reported that he was being encouraged by the receipt of occasional letters and by hearing of diaries and letters which were being collected by the local members; also that two ladies were engaged in clipping the collection of newspapers provided the commission by the Rev. John G. Scott, and that he hoped the work would be completed by the first of March. The Right Reverend Dennis J. O'Connell, chairman of Section XV, Post War Conditions and Activities, said that his committee would be able to report in due time their work as accomplished, and the he thought the space assigned his section--65 pages in the three volume history, about correct. Replying to a question, he said that he considered the activities of the American legion to come within the scope of the work of his section. Three of the local members present, namely Mrs. Naylor, Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Johnson, made interesting, reports as to the progress of the work in their localities. The chairman stated that Dr. Eckenrose had asked that Dr. J. G. Randall, Professor of History at Richmond College, and Mr. Morgan P. Robinson, State Archivist, be names as his associates, and Dr. Susan M. Lough, professor of History in Westhampton college, be names a contributing member. It was resolved that Dr. Susan M. Lough be elected a contributing member of the commission. Mr. Gaston Lichtensteing contributing member of the commission, reported that so far he had not been able to do any special work for the commission, but that he had been engaged for some time in doing cognate work, and work, the result of which might be used by the commission, namely, the collecting of the records of all the Jewish boys of Richmond and vicinity in the recent war, In this work he was associated with Mr. Herbert T. Ezekiel. The commission then adjourned.
Local Organizations Recently Completed Southampton County Members of Branch
G. L. H. Johnson, Chairman, Franklin, Va. Miss Fannie L. Webb, Franklin, Va., Secretary. Hon. H. B. McLemore, Courtland, Va., Treasurer. Topic 1--Virginians of Distinguished Service, James T. Gillette, Courtland, Va., Collaborator-Chairman Topic 2-- Pre-War Conditions and Activities, Paul Scarborough, Franklin, Va., Collaborator-Chairman Topic 3--Virginia Churches in Wartime, Rev. C. H. Rowland, Franklin, Va., Collaborator-Chairman Topic 4--Virginia Schools and Colleges in the War, G. L. H. Johnson, Franklin, Va., Collaborator-Chairman Topic 5--Men in Service, Capt. Franklin Edwards, Franklin, Va., Collaborator-Chairman Topic 6--Economic Conditions in War-Time, Hon. E. Frank Story, Franklin, Va., Collaborator-Chairman. (Continues on page 2, column 7.) What War History Contemplates
The vagueness which it must be confessed surrounded the work of the Virginia War History Commission ins gratifyingly clearing before the earnest desire of its members to proceed as rapidly as possible, consistent with the proper planning of such a vast undertaking. It was a decided step towards definite achievement when the War History Commission, at a special meeting, held November 18, 1919, decided that three volumes of approximately 600 pages octave be set tentatively as the published report of the commission with such further extensions as may be deemed expedient by a vote of a majority of the active and associate members of the commission. Another step followed fast-- a definite suggestion from the chairman as to the content of the three volumes, and adding a fourth volume of semi-military history subject to the approval of the commission at its annual meeting to be held in February. All this shows that the work has left the realm of generalities, and is taking on a concrete expression. If the contents suggested by the chairman after consultation with the editorial committee is approved by the commission, we shall have two volumes of military history and two volumes of semi-military history. Thus the arrangement will be as follows: Volume I, Military. The Story of the Draft, Sec. 6, 50 pages Virginia Camps and Cantonments, Sec. 7, 200 pages Navy and Transport in Chesapeake bay, Sec. 5, 50 pages Virginia Soldiers and Sailors Overseas, Sec. 2, 200 pages Virginians or Distinguished Service, Sec. 1, 100 pages Total for Volume 1 600 pages Volume II, Military History or Virginia Organizations, Sec. 6, 200 pages War-Letters, Diaries and Incidents, Sec. 14, 400 pages Total for Volume II 600 pages Volume III, Semi-Military Pre-War Conditions and Activities, Sec. 2, 50 Pages Virginia Churches in War-Time, Sec. 3, 125 pages Virginia Schools and Colleges in War-Time, Sec. 4, 125 pages Political Contributions of Virginia, Sec. 5, 50 pages The Red Cross in Virginia, Sec. 12, 50 pages War-Work and Relief Organizations, Sec. 13, 100 pages Financial Contributions of Virginia, Sec. 8, 50 pages Post-War Conditions and Activities, Sec. 15, 50 pages Total for Volume III, 600 pages Volume IV, Semi Military. Economic History of Virginia in War-Time, Sec. 8, 300 pages History of Virginia Communities in War-Time, Sec. 9, 300 pages Total for Volume IV 600 pages Whatever changes may be made at the coming meeting of the commission, they will hardly alter in the opinion of the present writer, to any great extent the scope of thought embraced in the scheme above. The history is by no means a narrative of the war, which would imply the combination of factors in many of which Virginia had share, for is it not the essence of the work. But Virginia furnished many good troops to the war, and she was the scene of many activities, both national and domestic, that influenced the results of the war. The history gives an account of these troops and of these activities and the effect of the wark [work] is essentially statistical, cumulative and descriptive. Back of these books will be the vast amount of source material, which it is to be hoped will some day find adequate public expression. Looking forward to future results, I trust that the present organization will crystalize [crystallize] in a permanent historical commission for Virginia. The war of the Revolution, the War of 1812, the War with Mexico and the Confederate War have never received the careful attention which they deserve, and an organization like the present war commission, backed by adequate supplies from the Legislature, by adjusting itself to these wars would accomplish a great result. It is only in this way a really adequate picture of Virginia's part in the affairs of the world can be given. It is too vast and too great for private enterprise. LYON G. TYLER. REPORT OF MEETING FOR CONSULTATION HELD BY MEMBERS OF THE WAR HISTORY COMMISSION ON THE AFTERNOON OF JANUARY 6,1920. This meeting was held pursuant to request of the chairman of the commission sent out on December 24, 1919 its object was the hearing of reports from section chairmen as to their views in reference to the adequacy of the space assigned them in three volumes of the war history definitely decided upon and in a suggested fourth volume to contain the Economic History of Virginia in War-Time and the History of Virginia Communities in War-Time. In addition, suggestions were to be received which members cared to make on any subject coming within the province of the commission. Especially was it hoped that there might be some discussion of the plan of the "war history drive" which is to be carried through after the monthly meeting of the commission, to be held on January 20, So far as this discussion was concerned, however, it was not practicable to enter into it, the other matters presented taking up the whole time devoted to the meeting. The meeting was held in the office of the War History Commission, and it began at three o'clock in the afternoon. Those present were: Mr. Arthur Kyle Davis, Chairman, Mr. C. R. Keiley, Dr. H. R. McIlwaine, Genl. Jo. Lane Stern, Mr. Rosewell Page, Dr. H. J. Eckenrode, Judge R. R. Prentis, Dr. Lyon G. Tyler, and Miss Julia Sully. The chairman called for reports and suggestions from the members present in the order of the topics to be handled by them as they shall appear in the volumes of the war history, and this order, though not accurately adhered to in the meeting, is followed in this report, which it should be remarked is a bare skeleton. (For outline of the proposed four volumes see preceding column.) General Stern reported that Major John P. Leary, a contributing member of the commission, had practically completed his account of the operation of the draft law in Virginia, and that probably the fifty pages assigned this topic in the history would be sufficient. Dr. Eckenrode reported that he thought two hundred papers assigned Virginia Camps and Cantonments in volume one of the history sufficient for a fair treatment of that topic in proportion to the space assigned the other topics. The subject of the Navy and Transport in the Chesapeake Bay, which is in lieu of the originally proposed to be treated by Dr. Lyon G. Tyler, Chesapeake Bay Area in War Times, was discussed at some length. Mr. Keiley made the interesting statement that during the war stationed at Norfolk, who had charge of transportation of supplies and men, and that doubtless the report of this officer could be secured, though he did not know exactly where it could be found, - whether in the archives of the American or the English government. While the meeting was in progress, however, he wrote to a gentleman - who will be able to give the desired information. It was pointed out that the information contained in this report would be of great value in the preparation of the chapter on the topic of the Navy and Transport in the Chesapeake Bay. It was also pointed out by the chairman that the report soon to be made by Dr. Newton D. Mereness, director of research of the National Association of State War History Organizations, of his survey of material in the national archives in Washington would be most helpful in this connection, since with this report in hand it would be easy to determine what papers in Washington should be copies for use in the preparation of this special character. Dr. Tyler was disposed to think that possibly the topic might be adequately treated in the space assigned, though he did not care to commit himself before fuller investigation of the subject. When the question of the space assigned the topic, Virginians of Distinguished Service come up for consideration, Mr. Rosewell Page asked what was the understanding as to the method according to which his brother Dr. Thomas Nelson Page, who is to write the chapter on that topic, is to secure the material which he is to put into shape. This led to a discussion of the further question, raised many times at other meetings of the commission or of its committees, as to what should be considered "distinguished service." The chairman at this point read from a letter he had received from Dr. McIlwaine some time previously in response to a request that Dr. McIlwaine give him his views on what should be included in a handbook of instructions or suggestions to be published by the commission for the guidance of all its members, the following paragraph: "The more I think of the difficulty of making up this roll of distinguished Virginians, the most [more] I am inclined to the view that possibly it will be the wise thing to include in it only those who saw actually military or naval service and who won some decoration. The civilians of more or less distinction could be treated in notes scattered throughout the volumes, which notes, in order not to take away too great a part of Dr. Page's job from him should be written by that gentleman. He would also, of course, write the chapter containing accounts of the exploits of the men in service who were decorated."
The suggestions made in the paragraph quoted were discussed by practically all the members present, the preponderant opinion seeming to be that civilians as well as those in military or naval service should be included in the list. This view was strongly advocated by the chairman of the commission. Finally the chairman appointed a committee consisting of Dr. McIlwaine, Mr. Keiley, Mr. Page, General Stern, and Dr. Tyler to discuss the matter further and to bring in a report to be voted on by the commission as a body at the monthly meeting to be held on January 20.
General Stern reported that "the two hundred pages anoted the History of Virginia Organizations might be satisfactory, though he was not absolutely sure. The suggestion was made that if more space proved to be needed possibly this might be secured from the amount allotted War Letters, Diaries and Incidents, the only other topic which, according to the outline drawn up by the editorial committee, was to be treated in volume 2 of the history along with the History of Virginia Organizations. Dr. McIlwaine reported that the amount of space assigned the topic to be treated by him and his associates (War Letters, Diaries and Incidents,) was satisfactory. Judge Prentis said that he would have to correspond with his associate, Dr. Lindsay Rogers, before agreeing that the fifty pages assigned for the treatment of the topic Political Contributions of Virginia was sufficient. When it was brought out that in the treatment of this topic would be considered the contributions made by Virginians in the Congress of the United States, and in the various executive or administrative agencies of the Federal government, all the enactments of the General Assembly of Virginia having to do with the winning of the war, the work of the usual executive departments of the State government in so far as this had an influence on the conduct of the war, and the special agencies created by legislation in the State, notably the Virginia Council of Defense, it seemed to be the consensus of opinion that one hundred pages, instead of fifty, should be allotted the topic. It was pointed out that this number of pages could be secured by taking twenty-five pages from each of the topics Virginia Churches in War Time and Virginia Schools and Colleges in War Time. Miss Sully reported that if twenty-five pages were to be given to the special account of negro activities, which had been assigned her section, - and she thought that the work of the negroes certainly entitled them to that amount of special space - a fair treatment of the work of the many organizations contributing to the winning of the war in addition to the especially prominent seven that combined to carry on the great United War Work campaign in the fall of 1918 could hardly be attained in the remaining seventy-five pages of the one hundred allotted her section. In this view she was upheld by most of those present, but it was not definitely settled that a greater amount of space could be allotted. In order to secure more tangible results from the work of the negro collaborators, the suggestion was made by Mr. Keiley that he take up with E. C. Erwin, secretary of the organization in Richmond. This suggestion was heartily approved. The meeting adjourned at half past five o'clock. TO THE LOCAL COLLABORATORS IN THE WORK OF SECTION XIV, WAR LETTERS, DIARIES AND INCIDENTS. Ladies and Gentlemen: This letter is addressed to a body which I hope is numerous, and which should have representatives in every city and county in the State of Virginia. All of you know, I have no doubt, the object for the accomplishment of which the Governor of Virginia has appointed a war history commission, and you know the pain of organization. You know that there is, or should be, in each city and each county of Virginia a local branch of the Virginia War History Commission, and that this local branch has, or should have, sections corresponding to the sections of the central commission. In the allotment of space made by the editorial committe [committee] to the several topics which are to be treated in the proposed history of Virginia's part in the War, Section XIV has been assigned a greater number of pages than any other section. This is, of course, natural and proper, for much the greater part of he the space allotted will be sued up in printing excerpts from the letters and diaries themselves. Mr. Rosewell Page, Mrs. Lewis H. Macaen and I have agreed tentatively on a plan of treatment of the topic assigned us, and this plan calls for the writing of an account of the experiences and opinions of our Virginia men from the time the they entered the service. We wish to set before the world exactly what our men thought they did and what they thought in reference to all the new experiences which were theirs. In order that this may be done in a manner even approaching adequacy, the collection of letters and diaries must be very large. And it is not merely the well written letter that is desired. A letter of that kind is, indeed, frequently not so valuable as one which may lack all the signs of instruction to be had from books. The spelling doesn't matter and the grammar doesn't matter. What does matter is the sincerity of the writer, and the committee would like to have an opportunity of judging of this sincerity. In fact, the committee would like, if it were possible, to have a copy of every letter written home by every Virginian that entered the service. Failing of this, they hope to get copies of a vast number. The home people to whom these letters were written are not going to give these letters up, or copies of them, except after much explanation and in many cases persuasion. A sufficient number of local collaborators will therefore have to be appointed for the work of this section in each county and city to make possible a house-to-house campaign. When these letters are collected in the Virginia State Library, they will all have to be gone over carefully, and to a certain extent indexed, before the work of selecting the excerpts and preparing the story can begin. It will be realized, therefore, that the preliminary work out to be entered on as soon as possible. While it is not to be supposed that this chapter of the war history can be completed as promptly as some of the others, still its completion should not be unreasonably delayed. I call on my local collaborators, accordingly, to come to my aid at once. I urge that you begin the collection of these letters and diaries without delay, and that you send them as collected to the office of the War History Commission, Room 9, State Capitol, Richmond, whence they will be transferred to the State Library. Of course, I assume that copies of these letters will be made, according to the plan of the commission, for preservation in the local depositories. Very sincerely, H. R. McILWAINE, Chairman of the Section on War Letters, Diaries, and Incidents. NOTICES The monthly meeting of the Virginia War History Commission will be held at 8:30 o'clock on the evening of January 20th, in the Senate Chamber, State Capitol. All members are invited to be present at this important meeting. The chairman of each of the fifteen sections of the Virginia War History is requested to send to the office for publication in the News Letter any outlines, plans or reports of work that may be of interest. REPORT OF DISTRICT MEETINGS Since the Nevember-December [November-December] issue of the News Letter was published, meetings at which great interest was shown have been held at a number of points, at which meetings the commission was represented by Mr. W. K. H. Shafto. AT SUFFOLK. On December the 17th, the commissions of the city of Suffolk and Nan- (Continued on page 2, column 7)