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William Bradley Umstead, 1895-1954
Gas Mask, "Anti-Dimming" Solution, & Instructions.
From the William B. Umstead World War I Collection
North Carolina Collection Gallery, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

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Source Description
Gas Mask, "Anti-Dimming" Solution, & Instructions.
Call Number:
North Carolina Collection Gallery, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Physical Description:

GAS MASK, U.S. Model, 1918, mask and filter stored in heavy canvas pack with "Wm B. Umstead" written in ink on obverse of pack's cover flap and "S-18-13" stamped in black ink on underside; mask's fabric components badly deteriorated.

CONTAINER, metal with detachable cap, for "Anti-Dimming Composition for Gas Mask"; filled with original cloth used to clean and treat inner surfaces of eyepieces, reducing the problem of fogging or "dimming" when gas mask is worn; oblong, ocher-colored container measures 3.25" (8.3 cm) from top to bottom, 1.25" (3.2 cm) in diameter; container in poor condition, scraped and rusted, especially on bottom, badly dented at mid-point.

ENVELOPE, heavy card stock, containing instructions on the use and repair of gas mask, including plaster strips for repairing "tears in hood"; printed on a reinforced folding card slip into cover printed "THIS ENVELOPE CONTAINS / INSTRUCTIONS / RECORD CARD / TAPE FOR REPAIRS"; card has metal eyelet with heavy string; card measures 3" x 4" (7.6 cm x 10.2 cm); outer surface badly watermarked on obverse and reverse, numerous dark, rust-colored stains on reverse.


The battlefields of World War I provided gigantic laboratories on which to test and refine new lethal technologies. Dreaded most by troops on the front was the sight of thick, low-level clouds drifting toward their lines. Poisonous gases, including chlorine, phosgene, diphosgene, and mustard, were among the terror weapons employed by both the Central and Entente powers from 1915 until the end of the war. The time-delayed effects of mustard gas proved particularly gruesome. Exposure to this agent burned flesh, blinded unprotected soldiers, and, when inhaled, slowly "rotted" from within a victim's lungs and other internal organs. Preparation for gas warfare was therefore deemed an essential part of training for every American bound for Europe.

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.