The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Gas Mask

gas mask and canister


World War I, Small box gas mask. From the Alvin Mansfield Owsley Collection (HM. 15).

World War I, Gas mask time card. From the Alvin Mansfield Owsley Collection (HM. 15).

This World War I era gas mask is a type of "small box respirator" which utilized activated charcoal (made from peach pits or the pits of other stone fruits) to cleanse the air. There is a small valve, inside the mask behind the tube, which the wearer would use to breathe through their mouth, and a clip inside the mask which would squeeze their nose closed. The card that accompanies the mask is meant to be used to keep track of the amount of time the mask is worn, so that the wearer will know when to replace the charcoal for optimal air purification. 

These items were issued to Alvin Mansfield Owsley, who served during World War I in the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard.

Find out more about the Owsley Collection in the Finding Aid.