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f you have ancestors who served in the US Army at Fort Sheridan in Illinois (or Camp Custer in Michigan, or Camp McCoy in Whitewater, Wisconsin, or Camp Douglas in Michigan, or Camp Knox, in Kentucky), run – do not walk – okay, let your fingers do the walking – to the personal photo album of William (Joe) Coke at the Illinois Digital Archives (see link below). This is a cache of photos dating to the early to mid-1930s described as “views of soldiers and military activities at Fort Sheridan.” But in fact, the pictures are far more varied than that, including civilians, women, and children, and about half a dozen different locations. A few of the nearly 1000 photos are labeled, including a class photo of the Battery D – 3rd Field Artillery, class of 1938. But even in those pictures without labels (and be sure to scroll down below each picture to see the accession information), the people are highly recognizable.

My father was inducted at Fort Sheridan during World War II, at least 5 years after these photos were taken, but I spent hours clicking on every one, wondering what the peoples’ stories were. There are shots of soldiers peeling potatoes for KP (something my dad was assigned to far too regularly), military maneuvers/reviews/war enactments, parades through Genoa City (Wisconsin) and the Chicago Loop to Soldiers Field, and candid snaps of men and their girlfriends. There are lots of shots of cavalry exercises, and artillery on wooden wheeled carts. There are bathing beauties perched on the running boards of square black automobiles, family groups, empty barracks, individual officer’s rooms, holiday celebrations, a soldier’s kit laid out in front of a pup tent, airplanes, camouflaged artillery, and more. An absolute treasure trove!

I can’t show you an example without violating copyright laws. But you can find the Fort Sheridan Photo Album 9224500 here: http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/zlakecou003/id/477




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