Throughout the centenary of World War I, the National Air and Space Museum Archives has featured stories from its many collections:
- The Grave of Quentin Roosevelt
- Armistice and Peace: Victory Letters from WWI
- World War I Through the Eyes of Paul Stockton
- The Theodore E. Boyd WWI Collection
- An Aviation Pioneer's Life in Documents
Even though we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Armistice on November 11, 2018, the effects of World War I can be felt to this day. In the Archives, there are still so many stories left to tell. Many of our World War I collections are now digitized (some in their entirety) and you can continue to explore these stories on your own.
With help from the Smithsonian Transcription Center, Arthur Raymond Brooks’ World War I diary is now fully transcribed.
An ace credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft, on July 31, 1918, Brooks retells the story of his first on July 29. “And I got one of these red tailed devils after all, even though it hasn't been officially confirmed to day [sic].” The diary skips from September 14, 1918, to a night at the opera in March 1919, so unfortunately, this particular document does not have Brooks’ thoughts on Armistice.
The Stupe brothers were born in Coburg, Germany. Albert, who was said to have been a pilot, was killed in action on July 31, 1917. Willy spent some of his military service as a paymaster and is said to have served in a motorcycle unit. In 1921, Willy immigrated to the United States.
We can only assume it was Willy who created the scrapbook in our collection, tracing the brothers’ history from their early years through the war. One of the last pages of the scrapbook is dated November 30, 1918, depicting the staff of Bomber Squadron 3 at their discharge. Stupe provides his thoughts on the war—in German.
Glenn Edward Heveran, Sr. became a corporal in the 14th Balloon Photo Section, First Army, and was sent to France in August of 1918. When he returned home in 1919, he prepared a scrapbook.
One of the images is a photograph of Bethelainville, France, taken on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. The peaceful picture of a village about 15 kilometers west of Verdun belies the heavy fighting in the region and serves as a contrast to the image of emplaced, fixed mortars below.
Unfortunately, James Rogers McConnell did not live to see Armistice, much less the United States’ entrance into World War I in April 1917. After war broke out in Europe, McConnell arrived in France to enlist with the American Ambulance Corps. McConnell withdrew from the Ambulance Corps and entered the aviation training program, becoming one of the first members of the Lafayette Escadrille. McConnell first flight was on May 13, 1916, in which he flew a Nieuport biplane. McConnell was shot down and killed on March 19, 1917 above the Somme Battlefields.
The 8th Aviation Instruction Center, located in Foggia, Italy, provided flight training to American cadets during 1917-1918. Most of the Center's graduates transferred to the Western Front to fly with the American Expeditionary Forces. However, about 75 remained in Italy under the command of Captain Fiorello LaGuardia, and were attached to Italian bomber squadrons, marking the first combat bomber operations by members of the US Army Air Service. The Archives holds an album containing snapshots tracking an unknown cadet's journey from New York City to the 8th Aviation Instruction Center in Foggia, Italy.
In addition to these digitized collections, you can find a selection of photographs in the Smithsonian's online catalogs. For our many other World War I collections, you may need to schedule an appointment to visit the National Air and Space Museum Archives to view in person.