The Soldier's Comforts Club met for the first time on October 29, 1915 in Room 151 of the Arts Building on the U of A campus. At this meeting, various committees were established to carry out each specific function of the group. These included a financial committee, a shipping committee, a news committee, a letters committee, a tasty-bits committee, a clothing committee, and a smokes committee. These committees were each responsible for coordinating their contribution to the comfort packages with the assistance of other students and faculty who were eager to help knit socks, make shirts, write letters, or help compile the newsletters. While the committees changed names and evolved over the course of the war, their activities remained constant.
The University of Alberta (U of A) Soldier's Comforts Club was organized by U of A students and faculty who wanted to support the World War 1 war effort on the home front. The Club was coordinated by a group of U of A women with the purpose of sending such comforts as socks, cigarettes, shirts, sweets, letters and, most importantly, newsletters to homesick students and faculty in training or in overseas service. The newsletters were a central focus of the Soldier's Comforts Club, as they discussed University and Edmonton events as well as provided information about the students overseas, including injuries, deaths, changes of address, and excerpts from letters from the soldier's themselves. By proceeding this way, the Club created a unified method for both the soldier's and the students at home to maintain contact with one another. Engineering Professor W. Muir Edwards, son of Famous Five member Henrietta Muir Edwards, was deeply involved in the Club from its inception and served on its executive committee from beginning until end. He often contributed his own money to the club and used his own office as a meeting point for compiling the comfort packages and getting them in the mail. Edwards took primary responsibility for the news service and letter writing aspect of the club and his passion for this cause is evident throughout his Editor's News reports.
On February 9, 1917 the Soldier's Comforts Club disbanded and reorganized after joining forces with the University of Alberta Overseas Auxiliary service, though the new organization retained the Comforts Club name. At this point the committee kept a more detailed record of the activities of the various groups that were knitting socks and collecting addresses for the men overseas. They assembled a Social Committee to serve meals after the meetings and women outside of the club began regularly donating completed pairs of socks. In fact, University President Henry Marshall Tory - a skilled knitter himself - attended several knitting meetings and taught many of the ladies how to properly turn a heel. The war mobilized the entire University population at all levels, and through the Comforts Club even at those at home could make a meaningful contribution to the effort.
The Soldier's Comforts Club served an incredibly important function for the University during these trying war times. In addition to providing a means for university soldiers to keep in touch with one another and their friends and family back home, the club enabled the "university to institute and strengthen soldier's identification with the university" and cultivated the sense of a University community for students on the front lines. (David Borys, "For the Country, the Nation, and the West: The University of Alberta's Contribution to World War 1")Scope and Content
This collection consists of meetings dating from February 2, 1916 - May 7, 1919; newsletters dating from October 29, 1915 - May 17, 1919; secretary, treasurer, and president reports; and two photographs