The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.
Help Enlist America's Best!
This recruitment letter from the War Camp Community Recreation Fund asks William Hascal Brill to help the war effort by writing for or to his local newspapers "to develop the morale and fighting efficiency of our Army and Navy." The letter tells Brill that he will be appointed as a member of the Publicity Committee. Brill is asked to help make "the Spirit of the American Army" and "help to enlist America's Best," by creating a strong message of patriotic support for soldiers abroad and the war effort on the homefront. "The American boys must know that the finest ideals of civilization are in their hands," the letter reads," that the folks at home are fighting in their hearts." War Camp Community Recreation Fund wants to create a patriotic atmosphere at home to support a fighting spirit on the front lines, and also raise money for their recreation and morale efforts in war camps.
Though Brill is essentially being asked to write and publish propaganda for free, he did contribute his talents to the war effort in this way. Calls action like this letter inspired patriotism from Minnesotans and Americans across the country.
Washington, October 10, 1917.
Mr. William Hascal Brill,
2365 Carter Ave.
St. Paul Minn.
My dear Mr. Brill:
To help Win the War will you give some of your personal service during the next few weeks to this War Camp Community Recreation Fund - to develop the morale and fighting efficiency of our Army and Navy?
Unless I hear from you to the contrary I shall understand that you accept appointment as a member of our Publicity Committee. No meetings will be held. Each member will serve in his own place and way.
YOUR HELP seems indispensable for, within six or eight weeks, we must stir the mind and heart of all America to this vital, new conception that -
"The Spirit of the American Army is to be made in the new few months. Mere numbers do not make an army - millions of soldiers who lack the fighting spirit can retreat without struggle. The American boys must know that the finest ideals of civilization are in their hands; that the folks at home are fighting in their hearts."
[...] Make the uniform a passport to all that is wholesome and strengthening in the community life - a blood-bond of fraternity, democracy and mutual service. [...] Help potential contributors to understand this and to realize that all we can possibly do for our fighting men is far less than they are doing for us. [...]
John N. Willys
WAR CAMP COMMUNITY RECREATION FUND.