WWI Collections: Dan Bartlett

Lieutenant Dan Bartlett

Photo of Dan Bartlett in uniform.

When America entered WWI a century ago, many alumni and even current students at Washington University in St Louis joined the fight. Dan Bartlett was one such student. Bartlett joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1917 when he was still a junior at Washington University. He became a lieutenant in Battery D, the 340th Field Artillery, 164th Brigade, 89th Division of the U.S. Army.

After the war, Bartlett became a St. Louis City Police Commissioner. He donated much of his material from the war, including his uniform, footlocker, detailed maps of the trenches, battle orders, letters home, souvenir books and postcards from all of the European countries he was stationed in, and much more to his alma mater. Below are photographs of his footlocker along with a reproduction of the inventory of items that it would have contained during the war.

Dan Bartlett’s wartime footlocker.

Inventory sheet of Dan Bartlett’s footlocker.

Remembering Captain Duncker

While serving in France, Bartlett was stationed with another Washington University alumni, Captain Charles Dunker Jr, who had graduated from Wash U in 1914 as class valedictorian and editor-in-chief of Student Life and The Hatchet. Duncker had been promoted to Captain in early October of 1918, but later that month, on October 17th, he was shot down in Thiaucourt-Regnieville, France. Below is a scrap of paper from the Bartlett collection that was allegedly in Duncker’s pocket when he was shot. It appears to be a range deflection fan for determining direction to the target from the guns for a Forward Observation party. The scrap even contains a hole that is purportedly made by the German shell that killed Duncker.

A range deflection fan that was in Captain Duncker’s pocket when he was shot.

After the war, the Duncker family gifted Washington University with Duncker Hall in Charles Duncker’s memory. Today, this building houses the Department of English, and you can still read a plaque honoring Duncker at the hall’s entrance.

More About the Collection

There is much more to explore in Bartlett’s collection of war memorabilia. Below, for example, are Bartlett’s typed orders dated only a week after Duncker died, which detail the mission and method of fire for an upcoming raid. His collection of materials also includes a great deal of Washington University memorabilia from the beginning of the century. You can browse through the contents of the collection here.

Typed battle orders.

Some of the photos taken by Bartlett, his maps, and other WWI materials from Washington University’s collections will soon be available digitally through the Missouri Digital Heritage project, “Missouri Over There: Missouri and the Great War,” a project to digitize collections of Missouri’s participation in the First World War. You can check out the project at http://missourioverthere.org/.

Patrons interested in WWI can also view the library’s WWI Archival Sources finding aid to discover other related University collections.

Dan Bartlett’s Uniform.


O’Connor, Candace. “‘Over There’: WWI and Washington University,” Washington University in St. Louis Magazine. Winter 2003.  http://magazine-archives.wustl.edu/winter03/OverThere.htm

About the author

Rose is a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. When she is not working on her dissertation on post-1945 asylum novels or blogging about the amazing materials in Special Collections, she fills much of her time reading, writing, gardening, and wrestling.