Push to preserve Connecticut memories from World War I

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. An effort is underway to preserve pieces of history from those who served.

Wednesday was digitization day at the New Haven Museum and Connecticut State Library. Important pieces of history were scanned to make sure they are part of the archives.

History captured through a lens, 100 years out. These memories and moments are fading.

“This has been in a box in various attics and basements over the last 100 years as the family has moved from one place to another.”

John Reynolds’ grandfather and great-uncle served in World War I. These albums tell the story of their journey overseas.

“My grandfather served on a submarine chaser in the Atlantic and his brother, Huntington, served on a submarine when submarines were brand new,” Reynolds said.

On Wednesday, Reynolds hoped to have them digitized as part of the Connecticut State Library’s Remembering World War One Project. It is a push to learn as much as possible about the nearly 63,000 Connecticut residents who served in what is often called, “The Forgotten War.”

They’ve been running these events since late 2014 and so far, they’ve taken pictures of more than 1,000 images and profiled between 200 and 250 people who served in the war.

Christine Pittsley is the project’s director.

“A lot of these folks don’t know a lot about their loved ones. They have all these pictures or these letters, but they don’t really understand what they were doing,” she said.

People like Gail Curran — Her father, Albert Coleman, was a musician who served with the 102nd infantry out of New Haven.

“He was injured while he was overseas and he received this certificate. He served with honor in the World War and was wounded in action,” she said.

After the war, Coleman went on to graduate from Yale. His memories and experiences are now placed in a scrapbook put together by his daughters.

“My father had saved everything and when he passed away, he had a whole drawer full of this and we never really knew about it,” she said.

Thanks to the Connecticut State Library, should anything ever happen to the originals, his story will never be forgotten.

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