TSLA Digital Collection documents the World War I experiences of two Tennessee brothers

Lt. George W. Puryear next to a SPAD S.XIII fighter plane, France, 1918.

Lt. George W. Puryear next to a SPAD S.XIII fighter plane, France, 1918.

As the 100th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in World War I approaches, the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ (TSLA) newest online collection, the Puryear Family Photograph Albums, tells the story of two brothers from Gallatin who served in the Army Air Service during and after World War I. Comprised of three photograph albums and several loose items and pictures, this collection offers a rare and remarkable visual record of the early history and aircraft of the Army Air Service.

On July 26, 1918, as a fighter pilot with the 95th Aero Squadron, George W. Puryear shot down his first and only German plane during World War I. Unfortunately for him, he was also taken prisoner the same day. After being transferred to a number of different prisoner of war camps and making one unsuccessful escape attempt, he took part in a mass escape attempt from a camp in Villingen, Germany, on October 6, 1918.

The Library Reading Room at TSLA is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call 615-741-2764.