Friday, May 12, 2023

WWI items found in records audit

By WSDOT Staff

Our Records and Information Management (RIM) team didn’t expect much excitement as they worked on auditing our holdings at the State Records Center. A somewhat arduous project, it involves poring over hundreds of records, items and artifacts from the agency collected between 1950 and 1990. So when agency records personnel came across what looked like a box of precious personal items, it caused them to pause.

The artifacts included a wallet, bank books, and sentimental keepsakes from service in World War I – all of which belonged to a man named Fred Gloor. With the help of a little internet sleuthing, Records & Information Services Administrator Shannon Gill found out Fred was a World War I veteran, and a Department of Highways civil engineer who worked in the Vancouver area during the 1950s.

Fred Gloor, a World War I veteran who worked as a civil engineer with the Department of Highways
in the Vancouver area in the 1950s

With curiosity peaked, Shannon reached out to her uncle, a genealogy buff. Through, they were able to connect with Fred’s great nephew, Steve. Steve and his wife Brenda were thrilled to hear about the discovery of the records, and recently made a visit to our Olympia headquarters to meet with the RIM team to take home their great uncle’s personal items.

Though Steve knew of his great uncle, he did not have any personal memories as Fred passed away at least 15 years before Steve was born.  Shannon and her Records & Information Management staff shared the story of the records discovery, and how they believe the items ended up with us.

Fred Gloor’s great nephew Steve and his wife Brenda posing with some of Fred’s artifacts we discovered during a recent audit

The Records & Information Management team thinks Fred did not retire in a traditional sense. In the 1940s, Shannon said it was common to store personal items at your workplace, as many people did not have a home office. If Fred’s career with the agency had a sudden end, it would make sense that such precious items were left behind. Shannon noted that this was before the agency maintained emergency contacts for employees, so they may have not been able to contact his family members to return the items.

Shannon believes the items were left in a desk drawer in our Vancouver-area office from 1950 to 1990, when it was transferred to the Records & Information Management Office. Unsure what to do but recognizing they were probably important to someone, someone likely boxed the items and put them in storage in the State Records Center in the early 1990s.

A couple of pictures of Fred Gloor, a civil engineer with the Department of Highways and WWI veteran. Our Records and Information Management team recently found some of Fred’s keepsakes during an audit.

Steve and Brenda were in awe of how many items were returned to them, as well as the pristine condition they were in. They also liked discovering their relative’s connection to our agency.

The discovery of the records was not only special for Fred’s family members. It was also a treat for the Records & Information Management team to discover and investigate artifacts that they wouldn’t normally find.

“This has been a very bright spot for our team during a large and often boring project,” Shannon said.

1 comment:

Trish Saunders said...

What a great find -- it makes me wonder how many other artifacts are stored in a desk drawer somewhere, awaiting discovery! It's a bit of luck (and care) that they weren't shredded. I'm very glad for the great-nephew of this remarkable man. I can see by the smiles how happy they are to reconnect with their long-lost relative.

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