Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John H. Harris Diary, 1918-1919

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: John H. Harris diary
Creator: Harris, John H., 1887-1943
Inclusive dates: 1918-1919
Extent: 1 volume
This diary of Corporal John H. Harris concerns his service with the United States Army's 145th Infantry Regiment in France and Belgium during World War I. The volume also contains lists of soldiers' equipment, battles in which Harris participated, and members in his first squad.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2000. M-4077.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

John H. Harris Diary, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John H. Harris was born in Akron, Ohio, on May 26, 1887, the son of Lawrence Harris and Anna Cavanaugh. He had at least four siblings: William, Daniel, Helen, and Clancy. On April 28, 1918, he enlisted in the United States Army at Camp Meade, Maryland. Harris briefly served with the 316th Infantry Regiment before his transfer to Camp Lee, Virginia, on May 30, 1918, where he joined the 148th Infantry Regiment. On June 6, 1918, he became a member of Company B, 145th Infantry Regiment. Harris served in France and Belgium between June 1918 and March 1919, and participated in several battles during the war's final months. He received a promotion to corporal on October 26, 1918. After his discharge in mid-April 1919, Harris returned to Akron, where he worked as a house painter. He never married. John H. Harris died in Broadview Heights, Ohio, on January 19, 1943.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The 37-page diary of Corporal John H. Harris concerns his service with the United States Army's 145th Infantry Regiment in France and Belgium during World War I. The volume also contains lists of soldiers' equipment, the battles in which Harris participated, and members of his first squad.

Harris began his diary with a history of his service from his enlistment in the American Expeditionary Forces through his transfer to the 145th Infantry Regiment of the 37th Division. Between June 6 and June 15, 1918, he briefly commented on his travels in the United States, and he mentioned an extended training exercise for trench warfare on June 8, 1918 (p. 2). After sailing to France onboard the Leviathan in mid-June 1918, he described his experiences in active service in France and Belgium. As he traveled, Harris consistently recorded the names of towns and villages and noted that his unit continued to train throughout their time abroad.

Harris often fought in the trenches, and wrote about his experiences during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 25-31, 1918, pp. 9-12). The 145th Infantry traveled through France and Belgium after the armistice, and Harris occasionally commented on his accommodations and meals. In early March 1919, he recorded his distaste for camp life near Brest, France (March 5 and March 16, 1919, pp. 27-28). Harris embarked for the United States on the Great Northern on March 26, 1919, and recalled some incidents during the journey, which included a small fire and a strong storm. After his arrival, Harris was stationed near New York City and in Ohio. He wrote his final entry on April 23, 1919, after his discharge and arrival in Akron, Ohio.

The diary entries are followed by the following sections:

  • List of battles in with Corporal John H. Harris participated during World War I (1 page)
  • Inventory of United States Army soldiers' clothing (1 page)
  • List of items that John H. Harris carried in his pack during World War I (3 pages)
  • Illustration showing the layout of soldier's pack during an inspection near Le Mans, France, ca. 1919 (1 page)
  • List of men in Corporal John H. Harris's first squad (1 page)
Subject Terms

    • Argonne, Battle of the, France, 1918.
    • Brest (France)
    • Camp Lee (Va.)
    • Leviathan (Steamship)
    • Ohio--Description and travel.
    • Soldiers--United States.
    • Transatlantic voyages.
    • United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces.
    • United States. Army--Equipment.
    • United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 145th.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--Belgium.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--France.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Equipment and supplies.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Trench warfare.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • World War, 1914-1918--Equipment and supplies.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    John H. Harris diary,  June 6, 1918-April 23, 1919 [series]