Scrapbooks and Diary of an American Librarian in Postwar Germany, 1947 - 1949
(n. p.): 1947 - 1949. Two scrapbooks, 12 x 10-1/4 inches, 47 leaves and 15 leaves used respectively, most recto and verso, plus additional laid-in material; diary, 8 x 6 inches, 19pp used, approx. 3000 words total. Scrapbooks bound in cloth and in burgundy slipcases; diary half cloth. Spotting to spine and front board of first scrapbook; front hinge of second scrapbook lightly cracked; light toning to scrapbook leaves; cloth of diary heavily worn and frayed; light dampstaining to front board of diary. Interiors of scrapbooks neat and well organized, with captions especially in the first volume; handwriting of diary neat and legible. Very Good overall.
A small archive of material documenting one librarian's experiences in postwar Germany, first at Onkel Tom's Library in Berlin and then at the Munich Post Library, a military Special Service Library for US service members. Alice Elizabeth "Betty" McKinley (1921-1993), a graduate of Park College in Parkville, Missouri and of the University of Denver's Library School, quit her post as a librarian at a public library in Kansas City, Missouri and joined the Army Service in 1947. She served in Berlin until April 1948, and appears to have been in Munich until January 1949. During this time, she also traveled throughout Germany, France, and England on leave.
An inveterate archivist with an eye for presentation, McKinley made her scrapbooks into well-organized, visually appealing records of her experiences. They include a variety of material, from travel and entertainment ephemera to military records and booklets, sales receipts, newspaper and magazine clippings, flyers and small (roughly 2" x 4") b&w and sepia-toned photographs. The photographs of Berlin, including images of a woman spinning thread in the street and people queuing for the newspaper, are particularly notable, although these comprise only a small portion of the scrapbooks. Additionally, seven 8" x 10" official Army photographs are laid in, showing McKinley and her fellow librarians at work.
McKinley is a much less devoted diarist, as the diary's brevity suggests, but when she does write she is clear and descriptive, recording details such as a burst pipe in the library basement, making out with a colonel in the Army and regretting it afterward, going to parties, and even having her apartment robbed at one point.
Altogether, an interesting record of one woman's experiences as a civilian librarian in in the Army in postwar Europe.