One day UPS delivered a box to the Kingsport Archives. Inside that box was a dress form.
That dress form allowed us to unpack this uniform from the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee Collection, KCMC 247, and we couldn’t be happier.The Kingsport Chapter of the American Red Cross was organized on July 11, 1917. The collection was donated to the Archives in 2007. A semi-permanent exhibit is currently on display in the basement lobby of the Archives inside the Kingsport Public Library and everyone is invited to come and view the items during all library hours.
The collection contains over twenty-five uniform elements as well as various patches, pins, nurses caps, hats, and arms bands. In addition to these historic garments, the collection includes a dozen boxes of records, newsletters, and scrapbooks dating back as early as 1946!
Dedicating one entire case to this remarkable collection gives the archives a chance to rotate the items and feature a different uniform with accompanying photographs, correspondence, and memorabilia on a regular basis. It is so exciting.
The dress form has also given us the motivation to photograph and document each garment and expand the finding aid, which will increase accessibility for researchers.
Here is what a few of these photographs look like:
Here is a peak at the other items in the current exhibit:
Researchers accessing the collection can learn about all of the Red Cross’ efforts to raise funds for the war effort and disaster relief. Scrapbooks documenting water safety classes, student and volunteer training, and outreach efforts such as Wives Who Wait and Serving Military Families (SMF) are very informative. The Kingsport records specifically detail the growth and extent of this valuable community resource’s good works in our region.
I am including some images from the collection that feature some of the uniforms the Archives of the City of Kingsport houses. Besides the uniforms, the photographs document powerful, strong, lovely, independent women doing great things.
A person can easily get lost in these scrapbooks and the Archives would like to announce that it just received a further donation of eight more scrapbooks!
Unfortunately, for the second time in four years, the City of Kingsport has removed the finding aids for nearly 1,000 archival collections from the library’s website (a casualty of its webpage re-design), so I cannot connect this post to the collection’s webpage. Sometimes when your program is in the basement, you are the last concern and on the bottom of the budget. Sadly, it also means that all of my past links to Archives of the City of Kingsport collections are either temporarily or permanently broken. It is unknown, yet, when or if the online findings aids and image gallery will ever be restored.
In the mean time, you can plan a visit to see the exhibit, or you can look at the materials with the assistance of the archivist, in person.
Links used as resources for this post:
A Guide to American Red Cross Uniforms by Shirley Powers, Official Volunteer Historian for the ARC
American Red Cross Advertising during World War I, Advertising Education Foundation
A Brief History of the American Red Cross, RedCross.org
The Records of the National American Red Cross, 1881-2008; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Catalog
The Story of Processing the ARC Records, NARA’s The Text Message Blog