BERLIN - Somewhere in France in 1918, Frank Rivers, a Yankee Division soldier from New Haven took shelter in a cae afer a long march.
He noticed a newspaper sticking out of a crevasse and almost reached for it but decided to sleep instead, out of sheer exhaustion.
A few days later, his company found out there was an explosion in the cave, which had been booby-trapped by the Germans.
Rivers, who recounted this story to his grandson many years later, reckoned some other poor soldier, who wasn’t quite as tired, tried to read that newspaper and found himself facing an eternal slumber.
It is stories like these, along with the photos, letters, documents and souvenirs that help bring the story of World War I back to life.
In an effort to help preserve these memories and this significant part of our history, Berlin-Peck Memorial Library will be partnering with the Connecticut State Library to hold a WWI Digitization Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 234 Kensington Road.
Area residents and their family, friends, and neighbors are being asked to find their war-related items and stories that might be tucked away in drawers or trunks so they can be included in this important archive.
Connecticut State Library’s Remembering World War One Digitization Days, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, give Connecticut residents, like Frank Rivers’ grandson, an opportunity to have their WWI photos, letters, keepsakes and stories preserved for future generations.
During these events State Library staff record the stories and digitize the photos, letters, medals, keepsakes or objects saved by the men and women who served over here and over there. Their stories and digital images are then made freely available online and will be preserved in the Connecticut Digital Archive so that their efforts and sacrifices are never forgotten.
The Remembering World War One project has been holding WWI Digitization Days at libraries, museums and community centers around the state since 2014. The project, begun as a way of commemorating the World War I centennial, is the largest of its kind in the United States and has told the stories of more than 300 men and women from across the globe. The stories, photos, letters and keepsakes can be from anywhere in the world, as long as the person bringing them to an event is a Connecticut resident.
“These events are an important way of documenting a piece of history that may otherwise never be known,” says Project Manager Christine Pittsley from the Connecticut State Library. “People don’t think the story of how their father enlisted just after arriving from Italy because he wanted to serve his new homeland, or that photo of their grandmother in her Red Cross uniform is important. But they are incredibly important. Every single photo, letter and story serve as a reminder of what these men and women endured and accomplished. Each thread helps to weave the narrative of who we were during the war and how we became the nation we are today.”
For more information about this event please contact Carrie Tyszka at 860-828-7126 or email@example.com or Christine Pittsley at 860-757-6517 or CTinWW1@ct.gov. To learn more about the Remembering World War One project or other upcoming events please visit ctinworldwar1.org/digitization-days.