The Sgt. Alfred Beardslee Memorial WWI Library
Sgt. Alfred Clyde Beardslee (1896-1973) was an airplane mechanic for “A” Flight, 50th Aero Squadron, of the American Expeditionary Force Air Service during World War I. This unit, which arrived in France in July 1918, became famous for its reconnaissance and air-drop missions in support of the “Lost Battalion.”
In 1997 Beardslee’s daughter Barbara Beardslee Silberling, then sixty-five years of age, decided to research and write about her father’s WWI experience. Her research was based on information from her father’s WWI letters and postcards and from over 400 books on WWI, a collection which she amassed over a fifteen-year period.
Sadly, health issues prevented Ms. Silberling from completing her manuscript, but having discovered the St. Helena High School WWI Research Institute website, she hoped to donate her library to this unique high school project. In May 2012 Ms. Silberling’s niece Priscilla Engeman and daughter Robin Silberling contacted Mr. Frank Mazzi, director of the institute, offering to donate the entire collection to the St. Helena High School WWI Research Institute.
WWI Research Institute students Cori Calabi and Violet Elder documented the authors, titles, and publication information of each book. Ms. Susan Swan, the high school librarian, has labeled each book with its appropriate Dewey Decimal identification, and she has provided dedicated space adjacent to the WWI Research Institute Museum in the high school library for this unique 425-volume collection. With this collection, the St. Helena High School Library holdings now include over 500 books on World War I.
St. Helena High School is honored to be the repository of The Alfred Beardslee Memorial WWI Library. Students and, by appointment, the public, are welcome to access this non-circulating collection.