Contributed by Matthew Peek
The State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection is excited to announce the publication online of the first half of its original wartime holdings of North Carolina military installation camp newsletters and newspapers from World War II. As part of a two-year digitization project begun in 2018 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II, the State Archives has been digitizing its unique, and in some cases, complete runs of newsletter issues published by official military officials and various base units during the war.
Most of these newsletters were collected between 1942 and 1947 and have been available for research by the public at the State Archives since 1947. However, the State Archives saw a need to place all of the newsletters online in order to increase statewide, national, and international use of the invaluable information contained within.
Many of these newsletters were informally published by the various units while they were stationed at bases such as Fort Bragg for a year or two during the war. They had varying sections and topics discussed, with much of the information and news bent towards the humorous side to make the service individuals laugh. Individuals in the units with artistic skills contributed original artwork and cartoons for the newsletters, many featuring soldiers in funny situations, lessons regarding service life, or having to do with women (often with sexual innuendo included).
One of the most important things about the newsletters — especially those published by camp or base officials — are that they contain names of individuals in military units (including training units), civilian workers in various departments on base (such as mail clerks at the Charlotte Quartermaster Depot), female civilian and military personnel working at the installations, and news of casualties from those in the war formerly stationed at those bases.
These newsletters also contain information regarding military entertainment, parades, and sports games that were put on off and on base for civilians in the North Carolina communities surrounding the military installations. They contain some of the rarest information about life in North Carolina communities during WWII (apart from regular newspapers). The newsletters provide some of the most detailed information on the arrival of female military reservists at North Carolina military installations between 1943 and 1944, including the integration of Women’s Reservists at Camp Lejeune.
Although some of these newsletters’ issues have existed in various local libraries and universities around the state, the newsletter issues contained by the State Archives’ Military Collection are some of the most complete runs for newsletters from major bases such as Camp Lejeune, Camp Davis, Morris Field, and Elizabeth City Naval Air Station. Also included are a large number of Army press releases from Camp Butner between 1942 and January 1944.
As of November 15, 2019, the first half of these newsletters have been digitized and placed online through the digital WWII collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections (NCDC), a joint effort of the State Archives of North Carolina and State Library of North Carolina.
The remaining newsletters, including the majority of the Camp Lejeune newsletters, will be placed online by the end of December 2019. All of the original newsletters can be viewed in-person at the State Archives’ public Search Room in the North Carolina Military Camps Publications collection (WWII 5) in the WWII Papers of the Military Collection. A draft of the collection’s finding aid is currently available online on the landing page for World War II Papers.