When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I as an ally of
Germany in November 1914, Jerusalem and Palestine became
a battleground between the Allied and the Central powers.
The Allied forces from Egypt, under the leadership of the
British, engaged the German, Austrian and Turkish forces
in fierce battles for control of Palestine. During this time
the American Colony assumed a more crucial role in supporting
the local populace through the deprivations and hardships
of the war. Because the Turkish military commanders governing
Jerusalem trusted the Colony, they asked its photographers
to record the course of the war in Palestine.
The Colony was permitted to continue its relief efforts
even after the United States entered the war on the side
of the Allies in the spring of 1917. As the German and Turkish
armies retreated before the advancing Allied forces, the
American Colony took charge of the overcrowded Turkish military
hospitals, which were inundated by the wounded.
"A Little America Close by Jerusalem's
This scrapbook is open to an article that appeared
in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune on July
4, 1920, which chronicles the history and survival
of the American Colony. The author characterized the
Colony as a "noble band of American men and women [who]
have been holding for nearly 40 years a lonely outpost
of American civilization in a strange far-off land,
overcoming persecutions, poverty, and the hardship
of the World War by following the Golden Rule in living
a life of Christian charity." As a new Library acquisition,
this scrapbook, like many items in the American Colony-Vester
Collection, will receive conservation attention to
preserve it for posterity.
"A Little America Close by Jerusalem's Wall,"
Minneapolis Sunday Tribune (July 4, 1920)
in scrapbook assembled by Mrs. Koster.
Manuscript Division (12)
The Occupying Turkish Government
As the occupying force during World War I, the Turks
imposed a strict system of wasikas, or travel
permits, for movement within Palestine during the war.
This travel permit gives a Colony member permission
to travel. The paper currency, like the sample on view,
issued by the Turkish government during the war quickly
became worthless. Gold coins were necessary to purchase
goods or secure favors from government officials.
Wartime pass issued
by Ottoman Turkish forces,
Manuscript Division (33a)
Paper currency, ca. 1916.
Manuscript Division (33b)