Wisconsin Libraries and World War I
When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914 the United States was officially neutral. However, it proved impossible for the United States to maintain its neutrality and on April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a declaration of war against Germany. The American Library Association saw an opportunity to provide library service to the men in the armed forces, and in June of 1917 it established a War Service Committee. During and after WWI the ALA Library War Service
provided millions of books and magazines to soldiers, sailors, marines, and merchant mariners in the U.S. and in Europe. Wisconsin libraries actively cooperated with the American Library Association in its efforts to provide books for soldiers and sailors during World War I. This included participation in nationwide fundraising efforts. Matthew S. Dudgeon
, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, took a leave of absence to serve in the Library War Service. He was in charge of all camp libraries in the U. S., and later served in France. A Wisconsin Library War Council was established to help raise funds “To Buy Good Books for the Soldiers” (see receipt above). The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center sponsors library history related exhibits in libraries. One of those exhibits
was about the role libraries played in World War I.