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Thomas Albert Ward collection

Identifier: PP 0342


This collection contains photographs, correspondence, publications, and ephemera related to Baltimorean Thomas Albert Ward's service in the 318th Corp of Engineers during World War I.


  • 1904 - 1963


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Albert Ward (known as Albert) was born on April 23, 1890 in Baltimore, Maryland, to Elizabeth E. Fitzpatrick (1855-1941) and John James Ward (1849-1927). His father was the son of Irish immigrants to Baltimore, and the Ward family remained Roman Catholics. The eldest son, Albert had an older sister, Elizabeth, and three younger siblilngs, Mary, Regina and John. The family lived at 1824 North Caroline Street, where Mr. and Mrs. Ward maintained a residence until the latter's death in 1941.

From May 14 to August 10, 1917, Albert served in the 8th Infantry Co. of the 5th Provisional Training Regiment at Fort Myer, Virginia. He attended Engineer Officer Training Camp at American University in Washington, D.C., and in January 1918, Ward joined Company D, 318th Engineers as a 1st Lieutenant. They trained at the Vancouver Barracks in Washington state, where they engaged in drills, physical exercise, athletics, bayonet and gas mask drills, hikes, maneuvers, target practice, and inspections. In April, the company departed Vancouver Barracks, and on May 8th, 1918, Company D boarded the S. S. America bound for Europe.

They docked in Brest, France, on May 18th, and arrived in Gievres on the 25th, where they were to spend the next several months clearing land and building warehouses to store food and supplies, as well as bakeries to supply bread. In August, Company D departed Gievres, bound for the Gerardmer sector on the Alsace front, to relieve the 35th division. They arrived at their destination, Camp Nicholas, on September 2, 1918, and remained for forty days. While there, the company engaged in a variety of duties, including maintaining guard or furnishing details in constructing dug-outs, operating a saw mill, supervising the repair of trenches, and stringing barbed wire entanglements. They were relieved by the first French Division on October 10th, and on the 11th the company hiked the steep mountainous roads to Bussang, Vosges. They remained in Bussang until October 28th, replacing clothing and undergoing inspections.

On November 1st, Company D moved into the Argonne Forest, across the Hindenburg Line in a territory occupied by the Germans only days before. They marched past detroyed towns and freshly dug graves, clearing the road as they went for the many divisions passing through. They men were informed of the armistice on their march toward Montfaucon, and continued on through Verdun, Abaucourt, and Etain, until they received orders on November 19th to return to the training area at La Foret, Cote D'Or. Over the course of two weeks, they marched throughout the day, covering several hundred kilometers. They arrived in La Foret the morning of December 6th.

Shortly after Christmas 1918, the company was split into smaller details and spread over the Divisional area, to begin the systemic repair and maintenance of roads. This work continued for many months, until the following April, when the company departed for Germany and the Army of Occupation. Shortly after their arrival, they were told to prepare to demobilize. On May 24th, they departed for Brest, France, for embarkation to the United States. On June 2nd, Company D boarded the S. S. Orizaba bound for Newport News, Virginia. With the company Band leading the way, the soldiers marched from the pier to Camp Stuart, on the outskirts of Newport News. Americans lined the streets to greet the returned men, and within a few days, Company D was disbanded.

Lietuenant Ward was honorably discharged on June 23, 1919. On his return to Baltimore, he resumed work as a civil engineer. At some point before 1930, he married Hilda Frederika Stapf. The couple had three children: Thomas Albert Ward, Jr., Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, and Marian Ward Davis. The family lived at 4103 Woodhaven Avenue. Thomas Albert Ward died on January 13, 1970 at the age of 79. He was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, a Roman Catholic Cemetry in Baltimore. His daughter Elizabeth donated this collection in 2015.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, May 2015.

Processing Information

The condition of the collection, particularly the photographs, was fairly poor when processing began. All of the prints were rolled and curled to fit into a single cigar box, where they had likely been for a long time. To contemplate processing, we had to flatten the photographs, which we did by humidifiying them in a closed container and then laying flat to dry with a weight pressed on top. Due to these conservation measures, each image has been placed in a sheet or segment of mylar to protect the print.

Scope and Contents

The Thomas A. Ward collection consists of four series: Photographs, Manuscripts, Publications, and Ephemera.

Series I, Photographs, contains 260 images, primarily related to the 318th Corps of Engineers and their experience during World War I. The photographs have been arranged into subseries based on the subject. These include: Training Camp, Battlefield and Combat, Ruins and Fatalities, Soldiers at Leisure, Transportation, Engineering and Construction Projects, Tourism, and Miscellaneous. Many of the photographs have an existing location written on the print, which likely happened when they were being developed. Many of the photographs have text stamped on the reverse that reads, "Photographs of all fronts and all points overseas, ten cents each, Ralph Cargille, Johnson City, Tennessee." Cargille was a corporal in Company B, 318th Engineers, who took photos of his wartime experience. Lieutenant Ward likely bought the photographs upon his return home. The collection also contains postcards photos, and photographs without any identification.

The photographs in Subseries C: Ruins and Fatalities, contain images of a sensitive nature, including deceased soldiers in various positions on the battlefield, barbed wire, and trenches. The original captions for the images also contain derrogatory language, such as "Boche" or "Hun" to describe German soldiers. The original descriptions have been retained, with the added acknowledgement that MCHC does not condone such language in our own descriptive work.

Series I, Subseries F, Engineering and Construction Projects, contains images of Ward's work after the close of the war. One project of note was the construction of the Severn River Bridge in Annapolis, Maryland, September 1922. There are also images of construction work dated 1929, but the prints do not identify the project or the location. Albert is identified in three of the images in this series, appearing with a group of men along a body of water during the winter (PP342.139-.141).

Series II, Manuscripts, contains just three folders of manuscript materials pertaining to Lieutenant Ward. The earliest of these items an Honorable Discharge dated August 10, 1917, giving Ward leave to attent Officer Training. The certificate was signed by Captain William G. MacNulty at Fort Myer, Virginia. This series also contains Ward's identity card with the American Expeditionary Forces, 1918. Printed on one side of the card are sections for name, rank, and duty, as well as a signature. Next to these prompts, Ward has written his name, his rank as 1st Lieutenant, and his duty as Co. D, 318th Engineers. At the bottom of the card, he signed his name. Ward's photograph is pasted to the reverse side.

The final folder in Series II contains a series of letters from Lieutenant Ward home to his family. The earliest dated correspondence is a post card from Ward to his parents letting them know he arrived safely overseas. The first full-length letter is dated September 23, 1918, addressed to his younger brother, John. Albert congratulates his brother, aged eighteen, on getting his first job. He then describes a bit of his daily life in France, saying "things get a little interesting once in a while, when they pick off a German coming over for a raid or something of the kind." But he reassures John that "there is hardly as much danger around here as you imagine." He closes his letter by again, wishing John well on the job, and then inquires as to the state of the Ocean City bridge.

Albert's second letter home is addressed to his parents and dated December 8, 1918. He apologizes for not writing earlier, but explains that he and his company have been marching since the first of November, covering a distance of 350 miles. "We did some good work in keeping the roads repaired, and keeping traffic moving up near the front, and our company put in several bridges in short order." He goes on to inquire about the health of everyone back home, and says, "I hope the 'flu' has entirely disappeared, and that all are well now." From his current position in La Foret, he speculates on whether he'll be allowed to go home, or ordered into Germany.

His third and final letter is addressed to his nephew George, dated May 17, 1919, and written on stationary marked, "Knights of Columbus, Army of Occupation." One week before his return to the United States, Albert writes to George that they will see eachother again soon. "Uncle Albert is in Germany, and having a very nice time, but I will be home to see you, and your little cousins before the 4th of July." He signs the letter, "With love, Uncle Albert."

Series III, Publications, contains books and magazines related to the 318th Engineers and World War I. Included are two issues of The Sapper, a short-lived publication devoted to the movements and news of the 318th Engineers. This collection contains a portion of the April 1918 issue, as well as two copies of the January 1919 issue. Also included in this series is, "The Life of Co. D, 318th Engineers" written by Charles Osborn with illustrations by Charron and Huntzinger, dated June 18, 1919. The book gives a detailed account of Company D's actions during the war, and Lieutenant Ward is mentioned several time. He is also listed as one of six officers with the company when they were disorganized, along with Charles Carey, George Coffee, Thomas Crocker, James McCutcheon, and William Wheeler.There are two other books in the series, including a general history book on World War I, and "Soldiers' Spoken French", inscribed by Lieutenant Ward on the inside page.

Series IV, Ephemera, contains travel maps from France and Germany, and newspaper clippings. The clippings include a photograph of Lieutenant Ward in uniform, and four cartoons from the Baltimore Evening Sun.

Guide to the Thomas Albert Ward collection
Mallory Harwerth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States