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Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division, 1916-2013

By Karl McCreary, Mike Dicianna, and Elizabeth Nielsen

Collection Overview

Title: Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division, 1916-2013

Predominant Dates: 1916-1919

ID: MSS Spruce

Primary Creator: Williams, Gerald W.

Extent: 2.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division consists of 7 series: 1. Photographs, 1916-1996; 2. Publications, 1917-1984; 3. Oral History Transcripts, 1979; 4. Publications and Presentations by Williams,  1984-1999; 5. Reference Materials, 1918-2013; 6. Research Notes, 1983; and 7. Ephemera, 1917-1980.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]

Abstract

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division is made up of photographs, publications, newspaper clippings, research notes, and transcripts of oral histories documenting the Army Spruce Production Division. These materials were acquired by U.S. Forest Service historian Gerald W. Williams in support of his research and writings on the Spruce Division. Materials from this collection are available online in the Gerald W. Williams Digital Collection.

Scope and Content Notes

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division consists of materials acquired by U.S. Forest Service historian Gerald Williams that document activities managed by the Division as well as its administration. The photographs and publications that make up about half of this collection reflect the logging. milling, and transport of spruce lumber in Oregon and Washington coordinated by the division. Associated activities include images of logging camps, the construction of railroad infrastructure, and division members visiting nearby towns. Transcripts of interviews with Division members illustrate the daily life of the logging camps and the harvesting of the spruce trees. Notes and reference materials amassed by Gerald Williams over the course of researching the Division and its head, General Brice Disque, include photocopies of newspaper articles, magazines, book chapters, and archival collection material. A conference paper resulting from this research is also part of the collection. Images relating to the Spruce Production Division can also found online at Oregon Digital. Publications about the Division are available online at ScholarsArchive@OSU.

Biographical / Historical Notes

The U.S. Army established the Spruce Production Division (SPD) on November 17, 1917, seven months after the country entered World War I. Charged with the mission of dramatically increasing the harvest and milling of Sitka spruce for aircraft construction, the SPD coordinated the employment of troops to work in logging camps and sawmills alongside their "civilian" counterparts. By the summer of 1918, the Army decided to administer the production of aircraft lumber more directly and transformed the SPD into a government corporation which managed all aspects of the harvest and distribution of the milled spruce.

Headed by General Brice P. Disque, the SPD succeeded in its goal of boosting production of spruce lumber for the war. Between November 1917 and October 1918, spruce production jumped from 2,887,623 to 22,145,823 board feet monthly. By the end of the war, total production of aircraft lumber had reached 139 million board feet. For Oregon and Washington, the SPD left a huge impact upon the landscape with its construction of 60 temporary camps, roads, bridges, and 130 miles of rail track. Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, the SPD operated camps and mills in and near a number of communities, including Newport, Toledo, Seaside, Coquille, in Oregon, and Port Angeles, Washington.

The Army dissolved the SPD on November 12, 1918, one day after the armistice was signed between Germany and the allies ending World War I.

An important element in the history of the SPD was the formation of the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen (LLLL). Conceived by General Brice as a response to strikes and work stoppages in the timber industry fomented by the radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the LLLL was developed as a union for those employed for the SPD, encompassing both troops and private mill workers. Administered by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, the LLLL required a loyalty oath for membership and regarded dissent among workers as wartime acts of treason. This strategy proved effective in lessening the influence of the IWW in the timber industry. Unlike the SPD, the LLLL continued to operate after the war, finally disbanding in 1938. At its height, the LLLL boasted 125,000 members and holds the distinction of being the first labor union formed by the U.S. government.

Gerald W. Williams worked for the U.S. Forest Service from 1979 until his retirement in 2005. From 1979 to 1983, he was a sociologist with the Umpqua and Willamette National Forests in Oregon; in 1993-1998 he served as the sociologist for the Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Portland; and from 1998 until his retirement in 2005 he was the national historian for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. He has published more than 75 books, chapters, book reviews, articles, and conference papers exploring a variety of historical topics such as the Native American use of fire to manage environments, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division during World War I.



Author: Mike Dicianna and Karl McCreary

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 781 photographs; 7 boxes, including 2 oversize boxes, and 1 map folder

Statement on Access: This collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: Originally described as part of the Gerald W. Williams Collection, these materials were separated from the Williams Collection in 2016 to form this new collection.

Related Materials:

The core of Gerald Williams' research materials are maintained as the Gerald W. Williams Papers (MSS Williams). Other materials that were collected by Williams have been described as separate collections: Gerald W. Williams Collection on Forestry and Northwest History Publications (MSS WilliamsPubs); Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Civilian Conservation Corps (MSS CCC); Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection (FV 320); Gerald W. Williams Collection on Smokey Bear (MSS Smokey); Gerald W. Williams Prints Collection (MSS WilliamsPrints); Jason S. Elder Forest Service Diary (MSS Elder); Gerald W. Williams Lantern Slide Collection (P 319); C.C. Hall Photographs Album (P 301); J. F. Ford Photographs (P 308); Forest Service Equipment Development Center Photographs Album (P 311); Mount Hood Area Excursion Photograph Album (P 310); Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums (P 303); and Frank Patterson Photographic Postcards (P 312).

Other collections in the OSU Special Collections and Archives that document aspects of the Army Spruce Production Division include the records of the College of Forestry (RG 139) and the OSU Memorabilia Collection.

Archival collections relating to General Brice P. Disque can be found at the University of Oregon (Brice P. Disque Photographs) and the University of Washington (Brice P. Disque Papers).

Preferred Citation: Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division (MSS Spruce) Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis Oregon.

Finding Aid Revision History: The original version of this finding aid created in 2016 has been updated in 2019 to incorporate additions to the collection.

Creators

Williams, Gerald W.

People, Places, and Topics

Disque, Brice P., 1879-1960.
Logging--Northwest, Pacific.
Lumbering--Oregon.
Lumbering--Washington (State)
Natural Resources
United States. War Department. Spruce Production Division
World War, 1914-1918.

Forms of Material

Oral histories (literary works)
Panoramic photographs.
Photographic postcards.
Photographic prints.


Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Photographs, 1916-1996
Series 1 is made up of photographic images documenting Army Spruce Production Division (SPD) activities in Oregon and Washington. In addition to portrait and group shots of various SPD members and companies, these images include views of logging camps, mills, the felling of spruce, rail line and road building projects, and SPD members in towns for parades and other events. Among the locales represented in these images include the Oregon towns of Toledo, Newport, Seaside, and Vancouver, Washington. Images dating from 1980 to 1996 are slide reproductions of original photographs and printed graphics. The photographs number 400 prints, 61 negatives, and 320 slides. Digitized images relating to the Spruce Production Division can be found online at the Oregon Digital site.
Box-Folder 1.1: Aircraft of the World War One Era, 1982-1996
Box-Folder 1.2: Brigadier General Brice Disque, 1980-1996
Disque served as Commanding General of the Spruce Production Division.
Box-Folder 1.3: Division Members in Parades and other Town Events, 1918
Town depicted in these images include Seaside (Or.), Bandon (Or.), Newport (Or.), Raymond (Wa.), and Salem (Or.).
Box-Folder 1.4: General, 1917-1996
Box-Folder 1.5: Images from the Book: Pictorial Review of World's War Activities: Spruce Production Division Oregon and Washington, Circa 1920
Box-Folder 1.6: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Related Images, 1990
Box-Folder 1.7: Logging Activity and Forest Views, 1917-1996
Box-Folder 1.8: Logging Camps for the U.S. Army Spruce Production Division, 1917-1996
Box-Folder 1.9: Milling Operations; Transport and Shipping, 1917-1996
Box-Folder 1.10: Portrait and Group Shots of Division Members, 1916-1996
Box-Folder 5.1: Portrait and Group Shots of Division Members, 1918
Map-Folder 1: Portrait and Group Shots of Division Members, 1917-1918
Panoramic prints.
Box-Folder 1.11: Rail Line Construction, 1918-1996
Work depicted in the images is primarily in the Newport area, with a few views of projects in Clatsop County.
Box-Folder 1.12: Toledo Mill Train Accident, 1918-1989
Box-Folder 1.13: U.S. Army Forestry Engineers' Companies, 1917-1918
Box-Folder 1.14: Vancouver (Wa.) Barracks and Mill, 1918-1996
Box-Folder 1.15: World War I Propaganda Images, 1984-1991
Series 2: Publications, 1917-1984
Series 2 is made up of magazines, a congressional report, and other publications documenting Army Spruce Production Division activities and history. Digitized publications documenting the Spruce Production Division can be found online at ScholarsArchive@OSU.
Box-Folder 2.1: The Four L Bulletin, 1923-1924
Magazine published by the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.
Box-Folder 5.2: Memory Book of the 137th Spruce Squadron, 1918
Published by Monarch Mills, Portland.
Box-Folder 2.2: Military History Magazine, 1984
Contains an article about the Lafayette Escadrille air squadron in World War I France.
Box-Folder 2.3: Monthly Bulletin: Spruce Production Division-U.S. Army, 1918
Magazine published by the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen (LLLL).
Box-Folder 2.4: Monthly Bulletin: Spruce Production Division-U.S. Army, 1918-1919
Box-Folder 2.5: Pictorial Review of World's War Activities: Spruce Production Division, 1918
A.M. Prentiss
Box-Folder 5.3: Spruce: Devoted To The Interests of the Men Doing War Work in the Spruce Camps, 1919
Published by the Siems Carey H.S. Kerbaugh Corporation.
Box-Folder 2.6: War Expenditures: Hearings Before Subcommittee No. 1 (Aviation), 1919
Select Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, House of Representatives 66th Congress. Not in folder.
Box-Folder 2.7: Wing-Beams, 1918
Published by the Clatsop District of the U.S. Army Spruce Production Division.
Series 3: Oral History Transcripts, 1979
Series 3 consists of transcripts from oral history interviews conducted in 1979 by the Olympic National Forest with 10 who served in the Spruce Production Division. The interviewees are: William W. Bell, Henry Fields, George Gibson, Leonard Groth, Betty Hamilton, Lloyd Lamb, John Macken, Vernon Peterson, Clyde Talbot, and Fritz Werges.
Box-Folder 5.4: Oral History Transcripts, 1979
Series 4: Publications and Presentations by Williams, 1984-1999
Series 4 consists predominantly of the manuscript of a presentation on the Spruce Production Division given by Gail E.H. Evans and Gerald W. Williams at a 1984 conference on military influences in Washington history and subsequent revisions of the manuscript.  An article by Williams published in Forest History Today is also included.
Box-Folder 3.1: The Spruce Production Division in World War I, 1984
Includes "Over Here, Over Here: The Army's Spruce Production Division During `The War to End All Wars`" delivered by Gerald W. Williams and Gail Evans at the 1984 conference "Military Influences on Washington History"  and the conference program, correspondence, and handouts.
Box-Folder 6.1: Over Here, Over Here: U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division in World War I, 1984
Bound manuscript of paper (slightly revised) that was presented at the Washington State Military History Conference by Gail E. H. Evans and Gerald W. Williams.  Binding and printing by the Olympic National Park and the Willamette National Forest.
Box-Folder 6.2: Over Here, Over Here: The Army's Spruce Production Division during "the War to end all Wars", 1998
Revised version of paper originally presented in 1984.
Box-Folder 6.3: The Spruce Production Division, 1999
Article by Williams published in Forest History Today
Series 5: Reference Materials, 1918-2013
Series 5 consists of reference materials collected by Gerald Williams in the course of researching the Army Spruce Production Division. Mostly made up of articles from various published sources and book chapters, these materials also include photocopied correspondence, reports, and articles from archival collections.
Box-Folder 3.2: Archival Collection Material Relating To Brigadier General Brice Disque, 1917-1938
Box-Folder 5.5: Archival Collection Material Relating To Brigadier General Brice Disque, 1917-1919
Box-Folder 3.3: Archival Collection Materials Relating To the Merrill and Ring Logging Company, 1917-1931
Box-Folder 3.4: Letters From Spruce Division Veterans, 1978
Letters received by the Quinault Ranger District of the Olympic National Forest (Wa.) in response to a call for information from those involved in the Spruce Production Division.
Box-Folder 5.6: Map of Spruce Division Camp Locations, 1918
Photocopied sections of the map "Post Route Map of the State of Oregon Showing Post Offices with the Intermediate Distances on Mail Routes."
Box-Folder 3.5: U.S. Forest Service Publications, 1917-1978
Box-Folder 4.1: Various Articles and Book Chapters, 1917-1919
Box-Folder 4.2: Various Articles and Book Chapters, 1917-1983
Box-Folder 4.3: Various Articles and Book Chapters, 1917-1983
Box-Folder 4.4: Various Articles and Book Chapters, 1918-1983
Box-Folder 5.7: Various Articles and Book Chapters, 1917-1918
Box-Folder 6.4: "One Hell of a Complicated Proposition: How the Lumberjacks of the AEF Helped Win the First World War", 2013
Manuscript of paper by Byron E. Pearson presented at American Society for Environmental History.
Series 6: Research Notes, 1983
Series 6 is made up of notes compiled by Gerald Williams in the course of researching the Army Spruce Production Division. The handwritten notes refer to information drawn from a variety of published sources and archival collections. Photocopies of many of these sources can be found among the reference materials in Series 5.
Box-Folder 4.5: Research Notes, 1983
Series 7: Ephemera, 1917-1980
Series 7 contains paper-based ephemera that includes service documentation from Spruce Production Division members, a flyer, photocopies of magazine advertisements referencing the Division, sheet music for the song "Hear The Bugle Call", and a poster.
Box-Folder 4.6: Ephemera, 1917-1980
Box-Folder 5.8: Ephemera, 1918
Box-Folder 7.1: Poster, 1918
"Spruce for the Air; Fir for the Sea; the Strength of Your Blows and the Loyalty of Your Hearts Will Win this War"; Spruce Production Division, U.S. Signal Corps; Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.  Poster by Adrian Brewer.  This poster is available online in the Gerald W. Williams Digital Collection.

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