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Letter: James W. Alston to H. H. Brimley, Nov. 1, 1918

@ North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources


Letter written by James W. Alston to H. H. Brimley, November 1, 1918. James William Alston was a 1st Lieutenant in the 372nd Infantry during World War I. Alston was born in Wake County on January 16, 1876. In about 1907 he started working as a janitor and messenger for the then State Museum (later the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences), part of the N.C. Department of Agriculture. During the war Alston wrote several letters to H. H. Brimley, a curator and the first director of the State Museum. As an African American in a segregated United States Army, James Alston's letters often offer insight on racial issues during World War I. In this letter, Alston tells Brimley that he has still not gotten permission to rejoin his company. His shoulder has mostly healed but he still has some stiffness, and he writes briefly about his experiences fighting the Germans. He is currently staying in Vichy in one of best hotels in town and is the only African American officer among some one hundred white officers there. The white officers tell Alston that he is "a damn fool for wanting to get back to the front." He asks Brimley to send him the addresses of other soldiers so that he can visit them if he gets a chance.
Manuscript Letter4 Pages Letters (Correspondence)Image/Jpeg
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North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

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North Carolina Digital Heritage Center