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War Library Campaign

Library of Congress poster

In the Summer of 1917 the War Department asked the American Library Association to head up efforts to provide libraries to army training camps.  The first step was to raise funds and the first nation-wide campaign kicked off in September. The poster above came from Massachusetts, but similar ones appeared all over the country. The goal was one million dollars.

On the local level, the campaign was headed by Mrs. Ada Bernhardt, the librarian at Morrisson-Reeves Library.  The state organization set a goal of $1,250 for the Richmond area, and Mrs. Bernhardt visited civic , fraternal and religious organizations as well as the considerable number of ladies clubs to solicit the funds.  The newspapers covered her efforts, too, reporting when large sums came in, like the $160 received from the Richmond Federation of Clubs.  St. Andrew and St. Mary Churches joined to collect more than $400.

On October 16 Mrs. Bernhardt sent a check for $1000 to the state organization and stated she was confident that $1250 would be achieved.  That very evening the Coliseum hosted a lecture by a Canadian Lt. H. R. Peat, who told the audience about life in the trenches, and the proceeds, which amounted to $100, were given to the fund.

It wasn’t recorded when the goal was completely met, but Mrs. Bernhardt later gave talks about the success of the campaign.  Morrisson-Reeves Library then became a collection point for book donations — 90 of them by November 1 — to be sent to Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

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