Authored by Liza Young
Alex Pisciotta was a US attorney, Judge Advocate, Assistant Chief Attorney, and Mayor of Lake Grove, Long Island, just mention a few of his career highlights. His vocation of serving country and government began at the age of twenty when he enlisted in the US Army during World War I. Pisciotta was one of more than two million men trained by General John J. Pershing and deployed overseas for President Wilson’s American Expeditionary Force (AEF). In 1918 the AEF joined France and England in the battle to expel the Germans from French territory. Three-quarters of these men faced the horrors of battle, resulting in 320,710 total casualties, yet Pisciotta’s documentation of his deployment is without reference to adversity. Pisciotta’s regiment was one of the lucky few that was never sent into battle. His letters home, such as this one written to his mother on August 26th, 1918, are filled with accounts that must have soothed the nerves of his family. On stationary provided by the supportive YMCA, Pisciotta describes a rather peaceful experience serving in the farm detail, sightseeing, and playing ball with the boys from a nearby artillery.
Along with his letters, Pisciotta frequently sent home photographs taken of his days in France. Within this letter alone, Pisciotta references a photo album as well as eight photographs he had taken at the farms to which he had been assigned. The vast quantity of Pisciotta’s snapshots suggests he used Kodak’s Brownie camera. The Brownie, invented in 1900, derives its name from a popular children’s cartoon created by Palmer Cox in 1879 and was in fact originally designed for children. However, its small size and low cost appealed to adult hobbyists and the camera eventually migrated into the warzones along with the deployed men. The mobility of the camera proved to be ideal for military use, enabling both official and unofficial photography.
It is immediately evident that the Alex Pisciotta Papers collection is the ideal candidate for the implementation of linked data. Within this single letter are multiple references to related information which, in its current state, exists in isolation from its contextual significance. Should information become hyperlinked to its related data, references such as the eight photographs would link directly to the eight photographs, expanding the depth of the user’s information retrieval. Conversely, the eight photographs would link back to the letter, providing the photographs with the original context that is of such great importance in the realm of archives. Though the Brownie camera is not directly mentioned within the letter, it could be included as related information through linked tags along with the AEF, WWI, YMCA and dozens more, thus expanding the search to include directly related items that might have gone overlooked without the inclusion of its contextual significance.
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Center for Migration Studies of New York. (n.d.). Alex Pisciotta Papers, 1918-1981. The Archives at the Center for Migration Studies. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://archives.cmsny.org/2013/11/06/alex-pisciotta-papers-1918-1981/
Library of Congress. (n.d.). The Stars and Stripes, 1918-1919: The American Expeditionary Forces. The Library of Congress: American Memory. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/sgphtml/sashtml/aef.html
New York Times. (1985, January 25). Alex Pisciotta Is Dead; Directed a City Agency. The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/1985/01/26/nyregion/alex-pisciotta-is-dead-directed-a-city-agency.html
YMCA. (n.d.). History – 1900 to 1950s. The Y:. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.ymca.net/history/1900-1950s.html