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Humphrey M. Barbour World War I Scrapbooks
Almost all the items in the collection are tipped or bound in to a set of four cloth-covered scrapbook volumes of 29 cm., with the title "With the 42nd Division 1917-19" stamped on the spines. The volumes contain a total of 678 leaves; virtually all the rectos, and more than half the versos, bear content. Barbour took great care in the arrangement of his materials, to achieve a chronologically organized textual, documentary, and pictorial account of his military service, from his departure from New York (October 1917) to his return (April 1919). Nothing in the volumes indicates precisely when Barbour put the scrapbooks together; material evidence suggests a date prior to World War II. Included in the books is a memoir, whose 220-odd typescript leaves, organized into eleven chapters, are spread throughout the volumes. The memoir's prose is not obviously retrospective; much of it clearly derives from passages in letters written by Barbour to his mother, seemingly adopted without a great deal of editing. This is especially true of the earlier parts of the memoir, covering the period before the offensives of July-November 1918. Later parts of the memoir seem not at all epistolary, and may have been inspired by a journal. In any case, Barbour's prose is polished and engaging, with a frequent eye for telling detail.
Accompanying the memoir are illustrative materials of various kinds. There are a good many original photographic prints, presumably taken by Barbour or members of his unit and retained by him for eventual use in the scrapbooks. More common are halftone photographs clipped from periodicals and other publications. Some of these are referenced in the text of the memoir and others bear an obvious relation to it, but most lack captions (as do most of the photographic prints). There are also many photographic postcards, usually of towns or other locations through which Barbour passed. All told, there are more than 400 photographic images in the books. There are also a number of maps.
Equally important in carrying the narrative are more than 500 military documents and bits of ephemera saved by Barbour and integrated into the scrapbooks. Many of these documents are bound in to the scrapbooks as independent leaves, to make both sides accessible. There are divisional, regimental, battalion, and company orders; memoranda, reports, plans, and circulars (including many daily summaries of intelligence); fire orders and reports of fire; and drawings of sections of the front. A few are printed; most are typed or handwritten. There are also occasional pieces of printed ephemera, especially in vol. 4.