Last week I wrote a quick post concerning Veteran’s Day resources and received a comment from Rich Landers who has created a very unique site titled Soldier’s Mail. The site is based on the letters, photographs and artifacts of his great uncle, Sam Avery of the US Army.
Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery during the Great War (World War I). Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse.
This blog is an adventure long in the making for me in honor of my own family hero. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Today I found myself staring at my watch counting down the minutes to 1100 hrs.
Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Stop by and come march along . . .
The site is amazing in that it provides a social history of World War One through eyes of one who was there. You are able to read letters home, view photo albums, listen to contemporary music and learn more about the soldier’s slang of the time. You can also find an extensive bibliography.
Start your journey at the beginning of Sam’s story by going to the July 12, 1916 entry.
I especially like the way that I can read the letters in order on the actual day they were written. Soldier’s Mail is a bit like the John Quincy Adams Twitter feed or the Two Years Before the Mast blog. All three provide contextual clues for a bigger historical picture by focusing on individuals. (As I’ve dug into Soldier’s Mail, I’ve ran across similar sites of a British and German soldier. Nice overlap of similar topics and events.)
At the basic level, you could use this with students to provide a sense of the period. Go a step further and have students anaylze the primary documents using worksheets from the Library of Congress or the National Archives. You might have kids break down Sam’s letters and align them to events / documents in the grander scheme so they see a pattern of larger events affecting individuals.
It’s just hard to beat a great collection of primary sources like this!
Rich, a former HS history teacher, has kindly volunteered to act as a resource for anyone wanting more information on Sam’s letters and other resources.
I am very happy to be a resource for anyone regarding details on Sam and his times. I have worked with a number of secondary-level educators who have utilized Soldier’s Mail as a dynamic primary resource when studying the early 20th Century and the First World War in American History.
I respond to all comments posted on the site and I can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Stay tuned for the book!)