Brave Till the End

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: May 17, 2017

Posted by Amanda McCollom, Digital Library Intern, Villanova University, Spring 2017

Captain Francis Bolton Elwell’s World War I scrapbook offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the American men who fought along the Western Front in France. Elwell was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1886, graduated from Yale University in 1906 and was in business in Philadelphia before he enlisted. Newspaper clippings and official army memos tell the story of Elwell’s selection for the second officer’s training camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia in August 1917, his time at Camp Jackson and Camp Sevier in South Carolina and his deployment to France with Company G of the 323rd Infantry in July 1918. Elwell served through the end of the war and received orders to return home in June 1919.

Within the first few pages, a loose newspaper article reveals that Elwell was cited for bravery in action, for an act that occurred a mere half hour before the armistice ending the war went into effect on November 11, 1918. The article reads, “Captain Elwell, while his company was being held in the trenches, left cover and passing through artillery fire of exceptional violence, brought back a severely wounded soldier,” ([Page 3], Insert 5, front, open).


Other highlights include ephemera of both military and civilian nature. Items such as inventory lists, a program for the Liberty Track Meet at Camp Sevier, hand drawn diagrams of the battlefield, plans for counterattacks and instructions for disinfecting mustard gassed areas provide details about military life and practices during the First World War. Elwell’s trips to Paris and Soissons provide a cultural account of his experiences and the plethora of cinema, opera and orchestra tickets, theater programs, hotel receipts and restaurant bills show he took full advantage of his time off. A bulletin from the American Y.M.C.A titled “Seeing Paris” shares the options for walking, car and boat tours, out of town trips to places such as Versailles, and cultural outings to museums that were organized for the soldiers and officers ([Page 90], Document 1, 5).





The Scrapbook is divided into two parts: the first containing over 400 images of the scrapbook pages and the second containing nearly 300 images of the loose paper materials found at the back of the scrapbook. While Elwell’s papers from the training camps and the war are generally kept separate, there are many inconsistencies in the chronology; document dates may jump from July 1918 to January 1918 and then back to July. It is also difficult to tell the original order of many of the loose materials and there are blank pages throughout, where one can imagine some of the supplemental material was once placed. Each scrapbook presents its own challenges for digitization and the goal is to present all the possible views of the pages that have overlapping layers. It took almost 3 months to scan and create the metadata for this scrapbook, but the result is a unique digital item and a furthered understanding of the experiences of World War I.

The U.S.S. Florida and a U.S. Marine’s Great War Scrapbook

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: May 24, 2016
"Grady H. W. Lockhart, U.S. Marines WWI"

“Grady H. W. Lockhart, U.S. Marines WWI”













Recently digitized, the scrapbook of Grady H. W. Lockhart, a U.S. Marine in the Great War, presents a different view that many imagine about service during the Great War. Far from the smoke of battle, Grady served as a sea-marine – assigned to an important battleship, the U.S.S. Florida; U.S. Marines still form detachments assigned to most larger United States Naval vessels.

U.S.S. Florida (BB-30)

U.S.S. Florida (BB-30)











The Florida was assigned to the Atlantic fleet and cruised up and down the coast, taking Grady along.  While in port at several of the major cities of the Eastern seaboard on shore leave, Grady explored his surroundings.

New York City

New York City

















The Florida provided a covering and invasion force during the United States occupation of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914, and between visits to domestic ports, support for the occupation forces in Cuba. Lockhart was part of a highly elite unit: 14 personal from the Florida were awarded the Medal of Honor for service during the Battle of Veracruz.


Cuba Bay

Cuba Bay










Marine Guard, U.S.S. Florida, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 20, 1916

Marine Guard, U.S.S. Florida, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 20, 1916










Upon United States entry in the war, the Florida (BB-30) was assigned to the 6th Battle Squadron of British Grand Fleet steaming out of ports in Scotland.  Based near the Firth of Forth, Scotland, gave Lockhart plenty of opportunities for shore leave to explore the city – in Glasgow and Edinburgh – and the Scottish countryside, and to mingle with British soldiers and sailors.

Group with Colours, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Group with Colours, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders



















Depictions of everyday fleet life are numerous; Grady collected some humorous views of life on sea duty, as can be seen in his photograph of the largest and smallest dog mascots of the Atlantic fleet!


The Biggest and Smallest Dogs of the Atlantic Fleet

The Biggest and Smallest Dogs of the Atlantic Fleet










The U.S.S. Florida was also part of the force that escorted the German High Seas Fleet into the Firth of Forth;  German sailors later scuttle the ships to deprive the British of a potent force of war.

Later the Florida joined the convoy that escorted President Woodrow Wilson to France for the Paris Peace Conference.


U.S.S. Florida in high seas

U.S.S. Florida in high seas











Photographic Album of Beatrice Mae Correia, 1917-1918

  • Author: Michael Foight
  • Published: May 21, 2015

Posted for Marjorie L. Haines, Spring Digital Library Intern, Villanova University:

Beatrice Mae Correia’s WWI scrapbook, now a feature of Villanova University’s Special Collections, displays graphic and often disturbing images from the Great War. Many war-themed scrapbooks tend to portray personal or familial involvement, such as the scrapbook of Einer Smestad, WWI US Infantryman, or Captain James Archbald’s scrapbook of the Mexican Revolution Border War. Correia’s collection, on the other hand, exhibits the gruesome death and destruction of WWI. A number of the photographs appear to be acquired from retail sources, as duplicates are found in other WWI special collections. Photography of war corpses developed into a popular practice, particularly during the American Civil War, and Correia represents the consumer market for this distinctive product.

Photos of war corpses wash away the clean, sanitary picture of war and bring to light the ghastly consequences. Yet today’s surplus publication of gore and death, as seen in movies, YouTube, and other media sources, seems to dampen the sobering effect. Reality and imagination tend to merge, predominantly with the former morphing into the latter. The people viewed in this scrapbook existed. They were someone’s child, sibling, parent, friend, and confidant. They had dreams and aspirations. Where would you draw the line of respect and remembrance in regards to these immortalizations of others’ suffering and death?

Deadmans hill

“Deadman’s hill. Verdun 1916.”

The first page of Correia’s scrapbook contains an image of Deadman’s Hill commonly found on the face of postcards. This photo depicts dead Germans at Morte-Homme – Deadman’s Hill – in France after the Battle of Verdun. In 1916 the Germans sacrificed a significant amount of men and arms in an attack that was intended to acquire a swift and decisive victory; this anticipated success was to come at a time when Germany needed to reaffirm her superiority in the face of internal dissention and external skepticism. The resulting German ‘defeat’ led to Verdun’s nickname as “The Slaughter-House of Germany.” (The Battle of Verdun (1914-1918), p. 29, 1919, Michelin & Cie: Clermont-Ferrand, France) The photo acutely conveys the horror of the aftermath, notably with a bare leg bone protruding from a disfigured boot in a fashion worthy of Hollywood carnage scenes.

Refugees Fleeing

“Refugees Fleeing Before German Adfance Near Chateau Thirry”

It is estimated that WWI generated a minimum of 10 million refugees, almost a fifth of which were internally displaced French persons. (Refugees, 2014, Gatrell, Peter, International Encyclopedia of the First World War) Imagine your own life as a WWI refugee. Fleeing meant leaving your home with the understanding that it will likely be uninhabitable when – if – you return. You could only take what you could carry. You would lose contact with almost everyone you know. Your livelihood would depend on the goodwill of strangers, who may eventually tire of the influx of refugees. You may try to stay near your home, hoping to return soon, only to be pushed farther and farther away along with additional refugees.

Mine Explosion

“Mine Explosion. Chevoncourt.”

This image, on record in two other locations (WorldWar, Durham Museum), likely shows the German mine explosion in French-occupied Chauvoncourt, France on November 18, 1914. (The New York Times Current History: The European War, Volume 2, p. 1011, 1917, New York Times Company) Where would you prefer to be in the Great War: on the surface with poisonous gas, bullets, and explosives, or below the ground with poisonous gas, potential tunnel collapse, and explosives?

After the marne

“After the Marne fighting 1914. 1916.”

Countless skulls, long bones, and ribs, all piled together in an indistinguishable mix. Is it easier to objectify these corpses, as they no longer resemble a single, complete human form, with no human identifiers such as clothing? Does it matter if these are allies or enemy? This grisly pile of human bones represents only a sampling of the death accumulated, on both sides, during the Great War.


Last Modified: May 21, 2015