One does not usually associate libraries and study classes with amenities provided for internees in Prisoner of War camps in the First World War. It was surprising then for me, as Librarian/Archivist of the Canadian War Museum, to find evidence in our Library/Archives of well-organized libraries in the First World War internment camps in Germany. My introduction to POW library users in this war came about as I was undertaking a preliminary inventory of the rich resources of the Canadian War Museum (CWM) Archives. In the CWM Archives are two files related to libraries in POW camps in Germany. One file (Accession 19800077) holds letters from 2nd Lieutenant Archibald Campbell, a Canadian, sent to his parents from his POW camp in Germany. The other file (Accession 19710056) contains information on officially sanctioned libraries in German POW camps.

These discoveries provoked the initial interest and prompted me to see as an experiment what else could be found to flesh out this theme amongst the resources contained in the CWM’s archives and library. The results were sufficiently interesting, not only for demonstrating the potential of our archives/library but in elucidating this hitherto neglected theme in First World War history, as to merit being brought to the attention of the readership of this journal.