“Have you a ‘slacker’ record in your home? or an idle needle? Are you by any chance giving house room to a phonograph that isn’t working? If so, draft them. Report them immediately to the Phonograph-Records Recruiting Corps…” –the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
In 1918, Indiana’s Fort Wayne Journal Gazette joined hundreds of newspapers across the country in imploring their readers to donate old or unused phonographs, records, and needles to soldiers at home and overseas. To kick off the donation process, the National Phonograph-Record Recruiting Corps (PRRC) sponsored a “slacker” record drive 26 October to 2 November, 1918.
The PRRC was formed to organize phonograph record collection efforts, and their goal was to collect a million records to send to troops. Proponents of the PRRC viewed music as essential for soldiers, and Vivian Burnett, head of the PRRC, observed, “Music makes morale, and the phonograph is the soldier’s favorite musical instrument. In the training camps, on the transports and battleships, and in the dugouts and hospitals, phonographs are making the men happy and cheerful, and helping to keep them fit.”
Newspaper articles supporting the “slacker” record drive often shared stories illustrating why the records were essential to the war effort, in an emotional appeal to get readers to donate. The following is an example from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that describes how phonograph records helped shell-shocked patients in France:
Read the full article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette about the “slacker” record drive.