Personnel Department Files, 1917-1919
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Brief Description: Personnel files of the ALA War Service Personnel Department, contains job inquiries, application form, references, and correspondence, includes hiring, openings, placement, salary notifications, and transfer.
Held at:
The American Library Association Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61802
Phone: 217 333 0798
Fax: 217 244 2868
Email: ala-archives [at]
Record Series Number: 89/1/79
Created by: War Services Committee
Volume: 1.0 Cubic Feet
Acquired: 04/26/1974.
More information is available at
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by last name
Biographical Note for War Services Committee :

In an April 1917 meeting between Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, and the Secretary of War, Putnam suggested that the ALA provide books for the American Army. The President of the ALA then decided that it should assist the war effort (1).  The Louisville Conference of June 22, 1917 accepted the recommendation of the Preliminary Committee that a War Committee be appointed to study the supply of reading matter to the troops; construction, equipping and maintenance of library buildings at military garrisons; and the possibility of raising funds for that purpose (2). This mandate to study the problem was broadened by the Executive Board on August 14, 1917 with the appointment of a War Services Committee authorized to raise and distribute funds to supply books to the troops (3).

To facilitate the Committee's mandate, the Executive Board named Herbert Putnam Director General of the War Services Committee and gave him broad authority to hire staff, design and equip buildings, contract for equipment, determine lists of books to be provided, and accept or reject gift reading matter (4).

The War Services Committee ended its operations after the War. By August 21, 1919 the Committee proposed that Army and Navy librarians take over the fund for distributing books to service men, and that the service to hospitals be continued only until the Public Health Service could assume responsibility (5).  On January 3, 1920 the Executive Board took over the work of the Committee, and at its July 15-16, 1920 Meeting, the Board transferred the Library War Services Fund to the ALA Treasury, and abolished the position of Director General of the Library War Services Committee (6).  The ALA continued to provide funds for books for ex-servicemen as late as 1923 (7).

During World War II there was an attempt to revive war services.  To prepare for the possibility of war, the Executive Board authorized the President to INT a Committee on Defense Activities on October 7, 1940.  This Committee was to report directly to the Executive Board (8). On December 20, 1941 the Executive Board changed the name of the Committee to the Committee on Libraries and the War.  The mission of the Committee to the Committee on Libraries and the War.  The mission of the Committee was to disseminate information to libraries on "civilian defense and civilian moral" (9).  Subsequently the Executive Board appointed a Committee on War Information and Education, but by June 21, 1942, this Committee was dropped because the government was doing the Committee's work and it was no longer useful (10).

Subject Index
War Service Personnel
War Service Recruitment
War Services Committee
World War I
Languages of Materials
English [eng]