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Letter: James W. Alston to H. H. Brimley, Oct. 6, 1918

@ North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources


Letter written by James W. Alston to H. H. Brimley, October 6, 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 writes about being in a hospital after being shot in the shoulder by a machine gun. He mentions reading in a French version of the New York Herald that Germany wants peace and describes his experiences on the front lines during drive into Switzerland. He write that "my company ran two days ahead of our rolling kitchen and the men had to subsist on about 1/2 iron rations..." and that he hopes to rejoin his company in a month. He closes by asking Brimley to tell Jim "to keep praying and we will keep fighting."
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