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David Rosenblum World War I letters

Ms. Coll. 1262

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Creator:
Rosenblum, David, 1893-1951
Title:
David Rosenblum World War I letters
Date [inclusive]:
1918-1919
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 1262
Extent:
0.2 linear feet (1 box)
Language:
English
Abstract:
David Rosenblum (1893-1957) served in the Third Corps of the United States Army during World War I from March 26, 1918, to February 22, 1919, and was overseas in France from September 19, 1918, to February 22, 1919. Rosenblum was a talented jazz pianist and formed a sextet and a comedy duet while overseas. After returning home, Rosenblum became a dry goods merchant, and by 1941, Rosenblum had founded the first radio station in Butler County, WISR. This collection contains letters written by David Rosenblum to his family during his military service in France during World War I.
Cite as:
David Rosenblum World War I letters, 1918-1919, Ms. Coll. 1262, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

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Biography/History

David Rosenblum was born on March 22, 1893 in New Castle, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Samuel Rosenblum and Rachel Lidvinosky. Samuel, a dry goods merchant, immigrated to America from Lithuania in 1883. David was the oldest of ten children.

In 1917, Rosenblum registered for the World War I draft and served in the Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop (M.O.R.S.) in the Third Corps of the United States Army from March 26, 1918, to February 22, 1919. He served overseas in France from September 19, 1918, to February 22, 1919, and on his return to Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was honorably discharged. While in France, Rosenblum did not serve on the front lines, but instead worked in a military ordnance repair shop and as a stenographer for an officer. His musical talents resulted in a number of privileges such as passes to play jazz piano in hotels in towns. He formed a sextet with other soliders and their hobby turned into an official assignment by the military to travel around France playing for various military camps and Red Cross facilities.

After returning home, Rosenblum married Sara Eleanor and became a dry goods merchant and later a wholesale grocer. By 1941, Rosenblum had founded the first radio station in Butler County, WISR (named for his father Isaac Samuel Rosenblum), which promoted the community and its events. It was the last radio station to be granted a broadcast license before the FCC halted the licensing of additional stations until after WWII. Rosenblum managed the station and sold airtime while his wife, Sara, kept the books. Together, they operated the radio station until Rosenblum's death on January 28, 1951, when their son, Joel, assumed operations.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters written by David Rosenblum to his family during his military service in France during World War I. A few letters were addressed specifically to his mother, his father, and Bess (sister); but generally, the letters were addressed to the Rosenblum's, which would have included his nine siblings. This correspondence began with his voyage to France in September 1918 and ended with his arrival back on American soil on February 14, 1919. In his letters, Rosenblum provided descriptions of the daily military life of a soldier far from the front lines, detailed descriptions of the French people he met (children, civilians, and solders), towns he visited, and humorous stories about himself and his friends during their time in France. This collection includes details of his roles during the war, including his job with the Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop, a job as a stenographer, and finally, his role as entertainer for the wounded soldiers at various Red Cross locations in France. He provided details about his various musical acts, including a sextet and a comedy duet, in which he was the pianist. Of interest may be his communications regarding his fellow African American soldiers, as well as his particular interest (and advice to his father) in regards to shops in France and his anticipations of the demands for goods following the war. Food was regularly discussed as was the cost of food and other goods in France during the war and during the war's immediate aftermath.

Letters mention the constant rumors in the military camps predicting the end of the war and he described his own feelings at the news that the armistice was actually signed. Letters contain extensive details about the long wait to return home after the end of the war. In addition to the letters, there are two photographs in this collection. These oval portraits are likely of Rosenblum’s parents.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2017 February 6

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Kelin Baldridge

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Sold by Michael Brown Rare Books, 2016.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces.
Form/Genre(s)
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
Personal Name(s)
  • Rosenblum, Isaac Samuel, 1867-1947
  • Rosenblum, Rachel Lidvinosky, 1873-1935
Subject(s)
  • Families
  • Military
  • Soldiers--United States--Correspondence
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • World War, 1914-1918--France
  • World War, 1914-1918--Songs and music

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Letters, 1918 September-October.

1 1

Letters, 1918 November-December.

1 2

Letters, 1919 January-February.

1 3

Photographs, undated.

1 4