Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding World War I Jewish Welfare Board Postcards in a Box

Finding World War I Jewish Welfare Board Postcards in a Box

S.S. Von Steuben

A couple of years ago my dad gave me some boxes and bags of old postcards and greeting cards that he thought my husband and I might appreciate. At the time, I flipped through them with a cursory look and stuffed them in a drawer expecting to sort them over a snowy winter weekend. But as it so often happens, I got distracted and forgot about them – until today.

When we awakened to yet another snowy morning, we decided this would be the ideal time to remove everything but the major appliances from the laundry room / cat litter-box haven and sterilize it. In order to make it easier to move a storage chest, we removed the drawers. That is when we found the postcards.

So after a comfort food lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and crab soup an a few hours reading my latest advance copy of a book to review, I decided to look through at least one box of cards again. And among the painted postcards of Yosemite, pictures of movie stars homes from the 1930s, and pre-war cards depicting Kiyomidzutera, Japan, I found some unused postcards with a picture of the S.S. Iowan with a Star of David in the top left corner and a message that said: “Greetings from the Jewish Welfare Board to Soldiers and Sailors of the U.S.Army and Navy.”

On the back there was a stamp that said: “Soldier’s Mail No Postage Necessary if Mailed On Boat or Dock”.

I’ve no doubt these were given to my Great Uncle Martin Conroy, who served in France in WWI. I conducted some online research and learned the cards were most likely printed in November 1918 or shortly thereafter. Apparently there were 72 different cards printed with images of 56 different transport ships.

The S.S. Iowan was originally a cargo ship that was built in 1914 by the Maryland Steel Company for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. It was appropriated by the U.S. Navy in WWI, conveyed horses to France, and transported more than 10,000 veterans back to the USA after the armistice.

S.S. Niew Amsterdam

Totally cool to find such a unique piece of history in a box of miscellaneous cards!

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