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Arts & Culture

Connecticut In World War I: Memorabilia Digitized For Future Archive

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
A large photo of an U.S. Army infantry division stationed at Camp Devens in Massachusetts was digitized at the Connecticut State Library on October 28, 2018. It was taken 100 years ago and brought to the library by Russ Pelton.

The Connecticut State Library is marking the upcoming World War I centennial with an effort to preserve memorabilia from the war.

On Saturday, it held its last of 45 digitization days in the library’s massive attempt to digitally scan relevant materials from the families of those that served in the conflict.

The digital records will be collected into an online archive detailing Connecticut’s role in World War I.

“Their service was not documented anywhere, but it’s held in the memories of the families that now bring their items in to be digitized,” said project director Christine Pittsley. “A lot of these folks aren’t ready to donate this stuff, but they want to have them remembered.”

The very last item scanned by Pittsley’s team came from the great nephew of an army infantryman stationed at Camp Devens in Massachusetts named Frank L. Burton. It was a large group photo of Burton and his entire company.

“They were memorabilia: most soldiers came away with one of these pictures,” Pittsley said.

The photo was taken shortly after the allies signed an armistice with Germany that halted combat. Burton commanded the South Windsor American Legion after his service. He died in 1983.

The drive for the memorabilia began with the first digitization day in 2014 – 100 years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that ignited The Great War.

Pittsley hopes the archive chronicling Connecticut’s involvement in World War I will debut in the spring.

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