Rutgers in the First World War: “Voices of the Armistice” November 1–11, 2018


November 11, 2018 is Veterans Day and marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. To commemorate this centennial, What Exit?  will be featuring letters from Special Collections and University Archives’ Records of the Rutgers College War Service Bureau. This collection features letters from Rutgers students and alumni who served in the First World War, describing their experiences serving in the United States and overseas. Each day between November 1 and 11, Voices of the Armistice posts will share what these Rutgers students from 100 years ago had to say about the moment when peace was declared.

Joseph K. Folsom (class of 1913), was stationed in Georgia on November 11, 1918 and described a “kind of super-Halloween celebration” with a noisy parade and “general hilarity.” Harry Blue (class of 1918) was stationed in France. He described taking a swooping celebratory flight in which he “missed electrical wires by inches.”

page from letter describing sign comemmorating declaration of peace on November 11, 1918
Page from letter by Harry Blue (class of 1915) describing his experiences of the Armistice that ended the First World War.

The Rutgers War Service Bureau was formed in 1917 as a way to keep Rutgers men serving in the war in touch with Rutgers and each other. It was headed by Earl Reed Silvers (class of 1913), who was assistant to Rutgers president William Henry Steele Demarest. Thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, the letters are now available online.

Be sure to visit What Exit between November 1 and 11 for new stories and follow highlights on Special Collections and University Archives’ Facebook and Twitter.