In August of 1919 the Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa, sent out letters requesting information from alumni of the college. These letters were sent out from one of the college’s registrars, Charles S. Cory. There is an image of Cory that depicts him sitting at a desk. There are papers and a pair of glasses sitting on the desk, it looks as though this photo was taken during a break between his work. It is clear that there is quite the amount of work on his plate as there are many papers laid out on his desk. The man himself looks almost uncomfortable in the photo. It feels as though he does not know how to pose for it. Perhaps this demonstrates that he is a man of solitude, mainly focused on his inward needs than outward appearances. This photo is just a quick snapshot before he returns to the true work at hand.
The content of the letters was the request of military records from alumni that served during World War I, or at the time “The Great War”. The records that were requested included a photo of the alumni while serving, general information about their time serving, and an outline of their time while serving.
There were many alumni that sent their information, but there were some that could not provide much. E.C. Ferguson responded to the letter sent to him on the bottom of it. This seems like an odd way to respond to a letter, as most people would just write a new letter and send it back. Perhaps Ferguson, did not want to take the time to get a new sheet of paper to write on, and just wrote an immediate response as to not forget to write one. In his response, Ferguson states that he does not have much information to give to the college as he was not in a roll that would require such information. He also was unable to send a photo as well. One could wonder if Ferguson feels embarrassed about not being deployed during the war.
The written response from E.C. Ferguson : Dear Sir, I was only a member of the S.O.T.C at your school and as I do not have any pictures just now, and do not feel able to have anything, but thanking you hearty for your kindness, yours sincerely , E.C. Ferguson.
Out of the many military records that were sent to the college’s registrar, there is a photograph that is pretty eye catching. The photo depicts a young man in a naval uniform, sitting on a chair. He is sitting sideways on the chair and staring straight into the camera. The man is Herbert L. Pesch. Pesch served in the navy and was only promoted to Seaman Second Class by the time he sent in his records. He was stationed in Buffalo, New York. He then was moved to a ship between New York and France. During his time serving, Pesch saw many sites and had many experiences that he retells in his records. None of the items seem to hint at the war. He talks about how he saw Niagra Falls, the heavy storms that distressed ships on the coast of France, and visiting important places in New York City. One could wonder how much Pesch experienced the war itself. There are many men who fought in World War I that came back with many physical and mental scars. Was Pesch truly unscathed? Perhaps he opted to not tell of the horrors that he witnessed, or maybe he was lucky and never witnessed the horrors of war at all.
Above is Herbert's military records.
Herbert recalls events of his time serving in the navy, from visiting New York, to saving distressed ships in France.
Artifacts provided by The University of Northern Iowa Archives