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Humphrey M. Barbour World War I Scrapbooks

Identifier: MSN/MN 0506

Scope and Contents

Almost all the items in the collection are tipped or bound in to a set of four cloth-covered scrapbook volumes of 29 cm., with the title "With the 42nd Division 1917-19" stamped on the spines. The volumes contain a total of 678 leaves; virtually all the rectos, and more than half the versos, bear content. Barbour took great care in the arrangement of his materials, to achieve a chronologically organized textual, documentary, and pictorial account of his military service, from his departure from New York (October 1917) to his return (April 1919). Nothing in the volumes indicates precisely when Barbour put the scrapbooks together; material evidence suggests a date prior to World War II. Included in the books is a memoir, whose 220-odd typescript leaves, organized into eleven chapters, are spread throughout the volumes. The memoir's prose is not obviously retrospective; much of it clearly derives from passages in letters written by Barbour to his mother, seemingly adopted without a great deal of editing. This is especially true of the earlier parts of the memoir, covering the period before the offensives of July-November 1918. Later parts of the memoir seem not at all epistolary, and may have been inspired by a journal. In any case, Barbour's prose is polished and engaging, with a frequent eye for telling detail.

Accompanying the memoir are illustrative materials of various kinds. There are a good many original photographic prints, presumably taken by Barbour or members of his unit and retained by him for eventual use in the scrapbooks. More common are halftone photographs clipped from periodicals and other publications. Some of these are referenced in the text of the memoir and others bear an obvious relation to it, but most lack captions (as do most of the photographic prints). There are also many photographic postcards, usually of towns or other locations through which Barbour passed. All told, there are more than 400 photographic images in the books. There are also a number of maps.

Equally important in carrying the narrative are more than 500 military documents and bits of ephemera saved by Barbour and integrated into the scrapbooks. Many of these documents are bound in to the scrapbooks as independent leaves, to make both sides accessible. There are divisional, regimental, battalion, and company orders; memoranda, reports, plans, and circulars (including many daily summaries of intelligence); fire orders and reports of fire; and drawings of sections of the front. A few are printed; most are typed or handwritten. There are also occasional pieces of printed ephemera, especially in vol. 4.


  • Creation: 1917-1919


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Humphrey Mahan Barbour was born on 13 December 1894 in Rockport, New York, the son of the Baptist minister Heman Humphrey Barbour, Jr., and Gertrude Annie Mahan. As a child he lived mostly in Columbus, Ohio and (after his father's death in 1905) Bloomington, Indiana; he attended college at Indiana University, Bloomington, graduating in 1915. With the nation mobilizing for World War I, Barbour left his job as a bookkeeper in the bursar's office at Bloomington to enlist in the Army (5 August 1917). Already an officer in the Indiana National Guard, he was made 1st lieutenant when his guard unit was federalized as the 150th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 42nd (Rainbow) Division of the A.E.F. The regiment deployed horse-drawn 155 mm. howitzers, of French manufacture. After periods of training in both the U.S. and France the division arrived at the front in February 1918, holding the Baccarat sector in Lorraine. Here it remained until June, when it was withdrawn and sent to Champagne; under the French General Gouroud it helped blunt the last great German offensive of the war (15-16 July 1918). On 1 July Barbour had been promoted to captain, and command of the 150th Field Artillery's Battery B. From July to November the Rainbow Division was involved in more or less continuous fighting: the Allied counterattack in Champagne (2nd Battle of the Marne), July-August 1918; the reduction of the St-Mihiel salient, September 1918; and the great Meuse-Argonne campaign, September-November 1918. After the armistice the division served in the Army of Occupation that remained in Germany through the winter and spring of 1918-19; it was ultimately billeted at Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the Rhineland. In March Barbour was promoted to major, commanding 1st Battalion. He returned to the United States aboard the converted German liner Leviathan, docking in New York on 25 April 1919. After the war Barbour married and lived in Burlington, Iowa and subsequently in Chicago, where he worked as an accountant. He died on 23 January 1983 in Chicago.


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Language of Materials




A four-volume illustrated memoir, in scrapbook form, of the World War I military service of Humphrey M. Barbour, an artillery officer in the American Army's 42nd (Rainbow) Division. In addition to a 220-page typescript memoir the volumes contain close to 1000 photographic prints, postcards, published halftones, maps, manuscript military records, and drawings relating to Barbour's service, 1917 to 1919.


Scrapbooks are arranged by volume, followed by folders containing the loose enclosures found in each scrapbook.

Humphrey M. Barbour World War I Scrapbooks
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556