Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Recycled Architectural Drawings

As reported by The Times-Picayune 7 October 1919:

"A curious war expedient has just been declared no longer necessary and the books are about to be closed on one of the most remarkable makeshifts which were resorted to during the era of universal shortages. One of the most distressing of war needs, we all know, was bandages, and what our war ladies did to supply the deficiency was one of the bright spots in efficiency, but 'over there' it was not as with us merely as a matter of woman-power that was needed, but still more the cloth of sufficient softness and fineness to wrap upon wounds and to bind fractures.

The old rags crop was quickly exhausted and a partial resort was had to various [illegible] that when dried were soft and absorbent and non-septic enough for clinical purposes. But there was still grave need for cloth, especially of linen cloth, and out of the emergency came an idea. It was remembered that thousands upon thousands of architectural and engineering plans were printed on heavily sized linen tracing papers--the kind from which blueprints are made--and also that home builders and engineers have a certain sentimental respect for their used plans, so that instead of casting them into the discard when their purpose is accomplished the architect and engineer are in the habit of rolling up the originals and stacking them on the top shelf, to accumulate dust and dream away the declining years of their lives.

The war idea was to appeal to the builders and surveyors and all others who might have on hand such stocks to sacrifice them for the good of the armies.

The War and Navy Departments, shipbuilding concerns and many other industrial enterprises turned over their stocks, and literally thousands upon thousands of willing donors added to the stacks of materials, described as 'linen, calico, butter-muslin, brown holland, etc.' which were then passed through no less than seven processes before they were freed from their glue and coloring matters and finally were rolled into neat bandages to be shipped to the several military hospitals near the front and in England, where the chief supply of such materials was secured."

To read more, consult America's Historical Newspapers, an online database available through Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. If you are interested in other databases that cover historic Louisiana newspapers, consult the "Databases of Historical Louisiana Newspapers" Research Guide page here.

No comments: