20th Century Wars and Veterans

The collections listed below contain materials related primarily to 20th century wars and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and veterans of the United States military. Materials may be accessed by request in the Reading Room in Seidman House. Contact Leigh Rupinski at (616) 331-8726 or rupinskl@gvsu.edu to schedule a research appointment. Related images, audiovisual, and textual materials can be found in our Digital Collections

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461st Bomb Group (H) Collection (RHC-133)

The 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated during World War II in 1943 as a combat organization of the United States Army Air Force at Wendover Field, Utah. The unit was deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in February 1944, flying B-24 Liberators, before joining the ground echelon in Italy. The group's combat operations included long range strategic bombing of Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe, chiefly targeting communications, industries, and other strategic objectives in France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. After the German Capitulation, the group dropped supplies to prisoner of war camps in Austria. This collection contains a small amount of material collected by attendees at a 461st Bomb Group reunion. It includes reunion agendas, a 461st Bomb Group badge, and two essays written about the 461st Bomb Group. Dates range roughly from 1999-2005.

View the 461st Bomb Group (H) Collection Finding Aid


Angus Family Papers (RHC-60)

Collection includes correspondence from Sergeant F.C. Angus, Battery A 328th Field Artillery, American Express Forces to his family in Grand Haven, Michigan. The 328th Field Artillery was one of the last horse drawn Filed Artilleries in combat. The correspondence between Angus, his brother D.J. and his parents took place while he was stationed at Camp Custer, Michigan, multiple camps in France, and Fort Mills, New York during World War I. Correspondence contains descriptions of routine daily life, training schedules and work detail while stationed in France. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings and a letter to Mrs. J.J. Angus (F.C. Angus’ mother) from the Committee of Placement for Michigan asking for available women to be placed in needed war-time jobs. 

View the Angus Family Papers Finding Aid 


Francis W. Beasecker WWII Papers (RHC-29)

Lt. F. W. (Francis "Frank" Wallace) Beasecker was born in 1917 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He joined the Army in August 1942 and was assigned to Company A, 411th Engineer Base Shop Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Engineer Amphibious Command. He served in Cairns, Australia and New Guinea as a production manager for assembly of Landing Craft Vehicle/Personnel (LCVP). Military records include diaries, correspondence, orders, blueprints and plans, manuals, and correspondence. Photographs of Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; the Higgins Boat Works in New Orleans, manufacturer of parts for the LCVP; and housing in Carabelle, Florida. Pre and post-war personal records of Beasecker were assembled by his wife Helen Starr Beasecker.

View the F.W. Beasecker Papers Finding Aid 


Victor Belmonte Letters to Emma Simila (RHC-107)

Victor Belmonte (1919-2010) was born in Castrolibero, Italy and his family immigrated to the United States in 1920. In 1940, the family lived in Muskegon, Michigan, and by June 1941 he had moved to Detroit where he was working in a machine shop. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Fort Custer, Michigan in February 1942 and underwent training at various posts in Texas, California, and New Mexico. He was promoted from Private First Class to Sergeant by September 1942. In 1943 he was undertaking glider training. His subsequent military experience is not known, nor the date of his discharge from the service. He was the friend and significant correspondent with Emma Simila (1918-1999), who was born in Finland but immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Muskegon, Michigan. The collection contains 59 letters, cards and envelopes addressed to Emma Simila, her mother Maria, and her sister Elma from a variety of correspondents, dated from July 1939 to February 1975.  Correspondents include Victor Belmonte who is responsible for bulk of the items, 1941-1943. The letters primarily give background and details of life just prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, and his subsequent experiences in the U.S. Army Air Corps as he made his way through various training centers in Texas, California, and New Mexico. These included (in order): Sheppard Field, Texas; San Bernardino Air Depot, California; Boeing School of Aeronautics, Oakland, California; Camp Tanforan, San Bruno, California; and Fort Sumner, New Mexico. 

View the Victor Belmonte Letters Finding Aid

 


James Bergers Papers (RHC-168)

Jim Bergers (1918-2004) was a Grand Rapids Press journalist and United States Army reporter who served in World War II from November 1941 to November 1945. After being drafted, Jim became a wartime correspondent, authoring both press releases as well as personnel releases. During his time in the Army, Jim lived at Fort Eustis, Virginia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Hood, Texas. Following deployment in June 1944, Jim spent a small portion of time in the United Kingdom before arriving in Northern France, where he would spend the rest of his time in Europe. This collection contains roughly 2,500 World War II era correspondence, photographs, press and personnel releases, military papers, printed material, and memorabilia of Jim Bergers.

View the Jim Bergers Papers Finding Aid


Harry Berne Letters (RHC-119)

Harry ("Bud") Alexander Berne (b. 1929) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated in January 1947 and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an Apprentice Seaman. In January 1949 Harry was stationed on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands at the U.S. Naval Air Base, where he was soon promoted to Petty Officer and Surveyor Third Class. He returned to the United States in September 1949 and was scheduled to be discharged in March 1950. His subsequent career, activities, and family life are unknown although it is likely that he remained in St. Louis. This collection contains 292 letters 207 of which were written by Harry Berne and sent to his parents and sister in St. Louis. The contents of Harry's letters to his parents and sister give detailed descriptions of day-to-day events, including specifics of basic training, officers, barracks and camp, guard duty, drill, gunnery practice, new friends, meals, assignments, and leisure activities. The contents of Marie's letters to her brother Harry reflect life in a large American city in the late 1940s. Dates range from 1947-1955, with the bulk of correspondence from 1947-1948.

View the Harry A. Berne Letters Finding Aid


Harry A. Biddle Letters (RHC-105)

Harry Biddle (1907-1975) of Bronxville, New York was a carpenter by trade. He enlisted in the Seabees in December 1942 and was discharged in October 1945. The collection contains 33 letters written by Harry A. Biddle, Carpenters Mate, 2nd Class, 61st Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees), Company C, 2nd Platoon, to his wife Mary, spanning from April 1943 to January 1944. The letters' contents generally describe conditions in and around the 61st N.C.B. stationed at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, although the location is never mentioned in the letters because of Navy censorship. Also discussed are their mutual friends, finances, health, and complaints about frequency of letters. Also frequently mentioned is his sister Beatrice's fiancé, 1st Lt. Lloyd D. Spies, a B-25 pilot in the 69th Bombardment Squadron, 42nd Bombardment Group, 13th Air Force stationed at Guadalcanal; he was shot down and killed on 6 October 1943. Also included is a newspaper clipping about Spies' death, probably from the New Rochelle Standard-Star, and an issue of the battalion's mimeographed newsletter, Workers Wallop, volume 1, no. 2 (November 20 1943).

View the Harry A. Biddle Letters Finding Aid

 


Fei Hu Films Research and Production Files (RHC-88)

This collection contains production records, research files, and audiovisual materials created and collected by Fei Hu Films in the development and production of documentaries about the history of the American Volunteer Group, "Flying Tigers," and the Civil Air Transport airline, later named Air America. The materials span in date from the early 1940s to 2007, and include original film and video recordings, analog and digital production records, and a variety of research files on both organizations. 

View the Fei Hu Films Records Finding Aid


George H. Guild Letters (RHC-112)

George Herbert Guild (1919-1997) of Nashua, New Hampshire enlisted in the U.S. Army as Private on 10 January 1941 and was assigned to the Medical Detachment of the 196th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft). At some point, probably in mid-1942 his unit was shipped to the Southwest Pacific Theater and was stationed in Townsville, Australia. By June 1945 he had returned to the United States with the rank of Lieutenant. The collection contains 11 letters, manuscript and typewritten, sent to George Guild's mother, Ruth L. Guild, in Nashua New Hampshire from his various postings in the United States. The contents generally describe army life in camp, training, food, exercise, rumors, entertainments, and possible furloughs. There is also a great deal of sharing news of friends and relatives who have written letters.

View the George H. Guild Letters Finding Aid

 


Genevieve Burke Gulch Papers (RHC-101)

Genevieve Burke Gulch (1901-1983) was born in Olean, New York and married Walter John Gulch (1894-1948) about 1925. By 1942 Genevieve resided in Buffalo, New York. Upon Walter's death in 1948, Genevieve moved to Blasdell, New York where she remained until she moved to Lackawanna, New York in 1955. In 1916 Walter enlisted with the U.S. Army and was assigned to Company G, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division. He was wounded in action for which he received the Purple Heart medal. This collection contains 258 letters written to Genevieve Gulch, the vast majority of which are from her sister, Martha Burke Bahan (1900-1984). In addition there are banking and insurance documents relating to Walter Gulch and his war disability as well as correspondence to him from various Veterans organizations. The contents of the letters from Martha Bahan to Genevieve Gulch, dating from 1950 to 1979 (with a gap from 1964 through 1966), generally discuss family matters, and are often filled with gossip and real or imagined slights. Entire collection spans from 1925 to 1979.

View the Genevieve Burke Gulch Papers Finding Aid


Gilbert Vinton Hallock Letters (RHC-106)

Gilbert V. Hallock (1925-2003) enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He attended University of Tennessee under the USAAC Aviation Cadet program (63rd College Training Detachment, Aircrew) and at the Army Airfield in Columbus, Mississippi in 1944, served as navigator, and received honorable discharge in 1945. The collection contains 64 letters written by A/T Hallock, 63rd College Training Detachment (Aircrew) to his parents Robert Palmer and Mildred Hallock at Worcester, Massachusetts, dated May 29th to August 25th, 1944. These were addressed from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and subsequently from Columbus Army Airfield in Columbus, Mississippi. Contents of the letters generally describe various aspects of the flight training program, fellow air cadets, hijinks, rumors of transfers and postings, assignments in the kitchen as well as guard duty, leisure activities off the post that include meeting young women, and a heat wave in Knoxville. Frequently mentioned are communications received from friends and relatives, both at home in Worcester as well as others in the armed services. Considerable discussion is given to a plan to obtain a furlough by fraudulent means, i.e. alleging that his mother is seriously ill.

View the Gilbert Vinton Hallock Letters Finding Aid

 


Victor J. Harter Envelopes and Letters (RHC-115)

Victor Joseph Harter (1910-1973), born in Harrison, New Jersey, served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a Private on 27 February 1941 and by January 1942 had been promoted to Sergeant where he served with the 12th Signal Service Company in the British West Indies. He attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in early 1943, to 1st Lieutenant in September 1943, and finally to Captain in March 1945. He was discharged from the service on 11 November 1945. He married Jessie Gertrude Patton (1913-1995) in early 1943. This collection contains 310 stamped air mail envelopes all addressed to Victor J. Harter's wife, Jessie, who lived during 1942 through 1945 with her widowed mother in New Jersey.

View the Victor J. Harter Collection Finding Aid


Philo Holcomb Jr. Postcards (RHC-140)

Philo Holcomb, Jr. (1893-1970) was a native of Atlanta, Georgia who worked as a telegrapher for Western Union, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in Fort Moultrie, South Carolina in August 1917. By late October of that year, he was deployed to France as a Private First Class and was promoted to Sergeant First Class by his discharge in 1919. After his discharge, Holcomb spent several months traveling through France and Germany, collecting postcards, travel guides and maps. Collection contains numerous postcards and souvenir postcard booklets, as well as travel guides, maps, and other ephemera, primarily depicting locations, art, and architecture in France and Germany. The collection also contains a smaller amount of similar materials relating to Monaco, Netherlands, Canada, and the United States.

View the Philo Holcomb Jr. Postcards Finding Aid


Humphrey Family Papers (RHC-86)

Collection contains correspondence and personal papers of twins Frederick G. Humphrey and William F. Humphrey, Jr. relating primarily to their military service during World War II. Also included are photographs of the twins as boys and in their uniforms. The collection also contains additional family papers including a diary with entries dating from 1942-1943 from the twins' first cousin, Eloise Jennifer Humphrey and World War I era post cards to their aunt, Pearl (Humphrey) Keene, from her future husband, Guy Keene.

View the Humphrey Family Papers Finding Aid

 


Doris Keirn and Burley Yehnert Letters (RHC-108)

Doris Keirn (1926-2016) and Burley ("Burl") Emerson Yehnert (1925-1998) grew up and lived one mile from each other in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Burl joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and was assigned to Squadron D, C.R.P. Prov. [Control and Reporting Post, Provisional?], 2nd Air Force in Nebraska at the Lincoln Army Airfield. In December 1944 he had been transferred to Combat Crew Detachment K, Rapid City Army Airfield (now Ellsworth Air Force Base) in South Dakota. He was promoted to Corporal probably in February 1945 and by mid-March 1945 Yehnert was in England assigned to the 711 Bomb Squadron (K), 447 Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force flying B-17s from the Rattlesden (Suffolk) air base. Sometime in late 1945 he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to Squadron A, 301st Army Air Force Base Unit at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida.  The collection contains letters written by Doris Keirn to her boyfriend and fiancé Burl Yehnert at his various Army Air Force postings in Nebraska, South Dakota, England, and Florida, between 1944 and 1946. It also contains letters written by Burl to Doris in 1946 and 1947. Content of Doris Keirn's letters generally describe everyday life on the home front, including weather, school events, family news, earlier musical talent and hope of performing in USO shows, desire to be married, and the heartache of separation. Burley Yehnert's letters describe the difficulties in finding postwar work with Goodyear or Goodrich rubber companies in Akron; the repair and refurbishing of a small aircraft he plans on selling or trading for an automobile.

View the Doris Keirn and Burley Yehnert Letters Finding Aid

 


Kissell Family Papers (RHC-148

This collection contains letters, postcards, and ephemera of the Kissell and Messersmith families during the World War I and World War II eras. The materials document the courtship of Thomas F. Kissell (b. 1923) and Grace Messersmith (b.1899), the World War I service of Grace's brother Walter W. Messersmith, and the World War II era military education and service of Grace and Thomas' son Leo "Gate" T. Kissell. The collection is organized into three series: 1) Messersmith-Kissell papers, 1915-1958, 2) Leo Kissell letters, 1943-1946, and 3) Ephemera. Walter describes popular music available to listen to on gramophones at the YMCA, his reaction on learning of the Armistice, and his pleasure at learning the Kissell family is moving to Columbiana, Ohio. Leo’s letters describes all of the planes he saw while on a road trip in California, including experimental craft, and including several sketches. The letters also include several written by Leo from Germany, Austria, France and England in 1945. The dates of this collection range from 1915-1958.

View the Kissell Family Papers Finding Aid


Otto Kuxhaus Papers (RHC-57)

Otto was born and raised in Okeene, Oklahoma. He followed family members to Saginaw, Michigan. He moved to the Detroit area in the early 1940s, and worked in a foundry. In 1941 he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and was assigned to the 81st Squadron, 12th Bomb Group. He served in Italy, northern Africa, and India before being honorably discharged in 1945. Collection includes documents, articles, postcards, photographs, brochures and other printed materials, currency and memorabilia collected by Kuxhaus. Materials document his tour of duty with the 81st Squadron and his leisure time activities. Some photos of family and friends are also included.

View the Otto Kuxhaus Papers Finding Aid 


Willard Lampe Papers (RHC-142)

Willard V. Lampe (1914-1999) was born in Winfield, Kansas. He served as Chaplain to the United States Navy during World War II, from August of 1943 to June of 1946, principally in the pacific theatre. In 1954 Willard started service as pastor of the Eastminster Church in Detroit. During his time at Eastminster, Willard grew more interested in ecumenical work and was reported to have been involved with Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission. In 1978 he retired from Eastminster. Within this collection are papers and photographs related to Lampe's career as a Presbyterian minister. The bulk of the materials are related to his service as a United States Naval Chaplain during the Second World War, principally in the pacific theatre. The dates of this collection range from 1938 to 1969, with the bulk of the material found between 1939 and 1947.

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Frances Lee Landis Trapp WAVES Scrapbook (RHC-152)

Frances (Fran) Lee Landis (1921-1988) was born in Deshler, Henry County, Ohio. On 22 December 1942 she enlisted in 1 or WAVES, and in February 1943 began basic training at Hunter College in New York City. Her last assignment was to Naval Auxiliary Air Station Brown Field in Chula Vista, California, from August until October 1945. She was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy on 12 November 1945. This collection documents her military service with the WAVES from 1942 to 1945. The majority of items are black and white photographs attached with corner mounts; most have captions or explanatory texts. Subjects of the photographs include her WAVES training classes and classmates, commanding officers, Naval Air Station assignments, her husband Richard Trapp (1919-1945), their honeymoon trip, and vacations.

View the Frances Lee Landis Trapp WAVES Scrapbook


Edward Manley and Jean Worthington Letters (RHC-116)

Jean ("Jeannie") Allaine Worthington (1928-1994) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and met Edward Manley in 1943. In this collection are 226 letters and envelopes: 60 were written by Jean Worthington and sent to Edward Manley from 15 February 1945 to 1 July 1945; 159 were written by Edward Manley and sent to Jean Worthington while on duty with the U.S. Army from 15 February 1945 to 27 June 1946; and seven from other people with some relationship to the two, 1943-1945. Edward's letters to Jean mostly concentrate on sentiments of love and the hope of marriage after the war. He also describes Nagoya during the American occupation of Japan. Manley was discharged in October 1946 and returned to California to find that Jean was engaged to be married to a man named "Shorty." Manley lost contact with Jean shortly thereafter. By 1952 he had moved to Los Angeles, California and at some point married Antoinette T. Manley (born 1940).

View the Edward Manley and Jean Worthington Letters Finding Aid


Archibald Irvine McColl WWI Papers (RHC-59)

Archibald Irvine McColl was born 2 May 1893 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. McColl received his A.B. from the University of Michigan in 1917, and enlisted in the Army that year. He was a Sergeant in Battery C in the 119th Field Artillery from 1917-1919 and served in France. Collection includes transcriptions of correspondence from his parents, his brother, and letters to his aunt Hattie and uncle George Irvine, and to a friend. Letters were written to his family while at U of M, and to his family and friend while he was in the service in Ohio, Texas and France.

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Francis J. Mee Papers (RHC-169)

This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, writings and military documents, over 400 photographs, and medical and personal records created by or pertaining to Frances J. Mee (1899-1990). Mee was a United States Naval Academy graduate, Ensign, Junior Watch and Division Officer, Captain of the U.S.S. Ellet, and Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Mee served in the U.S. Navy for over thirty years (1922 to 1955), during which time he was stationed in the Pacific Theater and as captain of the U.S.S. Ellet took part in battles and engagements in The Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Tulagi and The Eastern Solomons. In 1952 Mee retired involuntarily in accordance to statutory retirement laws. 

View the Francis J. Mee Papers Finding Aid


Michigan Soldiers Home Collection (RHC-48)

The Michigan Soldiers’ Home was established in 1885. The city of Grand Rapids established a post office on the grounds in 1892. The collection includes envelopes and postcards cancelled by the post office, images of the Soldiers Home, and postcards to and from residents of the home.

View the Michigan Soldiers Home Collection Finding Aid


Felix Niedzialkowski Letters (RHC-110)

Felix Niedzialkowski (b. ca. 1922) of Milwaukee Wisconsin joined the U.S. Army around 1942 and was assigned to the 626th Engineers, L Equipment Company; by November 1943 had been promoted to Corporal. At this time his unit was stationed near Nashville, Tennessee, possibly at Camp Forrest in Tullahoma. The 626th Engineers was subsequently sent to the European Theatre of Operations in 1944. The collection consists of 13 letters written to Felix Niedzialkowski by relatives and friends, mostly sent from Milwaukee, dating from November 1943 to December 1943. One letter, from his father Ignatz Niedzialkowski, is written in Polish.

View the Felix Niedzialkowski Letters Finding Aid


Helen Pauline North Photograph Album (RHC-154)

Helen Pauline North Mueller (1900-?) was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1920 she was an apprentice chemist for the Illinois Central Railroad shops at Burnside, Illinois, but by 1928 had become a stenographer for the Cowing Brothers real estate company and still lived with her parents in Homewood, Illinois. By 1935 she had married Louis John Mueller (1888-1972), a widower and proprietor of a tavern in Homewood where they were living in 1940. This collection contains a photograph album including photographs of the North family in Chicago and Jackson Park; Hammond, Indiana; the various employees at the Illinois Central Railroad shops at Burnside, Illinois; groups of friends, some in WWI U.S. Army and Navy uniforms; surrendered German submarine U-111 at Rhode Island; excursion to Fort Davis, Texas; vacation at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas. The dates of the photographs range from 1918-1919.

View the Helen Pauline North Photograph Album Finding Aid


Frank Ochoa Photograph Album (RHC-109)

Frank Ochoa (1915-2010) was a welder from Oakland, California. He was inducted into military service in May 1945 and was assigned to the 5th Army Air Force, 769th Army Air Force Base Unit, 139th Airways Communications Service, Detachment 113 which was part of the Army of Occupation in Tokyo, Japan. PFC Ochoa arrived in Japan in November 1945 and served as radio teletype operator for radio station WUQT . He left Japan for the United States in September 1946 and was honorably discharged in October 1946. The collection contains one photograph album comprising 51 pages containing mounted black-and-white photographs. The album contains 45 pages with 242 photos deal with Ochoa's service in Japan, 1945-1946. Highlights include 1st Cavalry Division in 4th of July Parade in Tokyo, 1946; Ernie Pyle Theatre and first performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado in Japan; scenes at radio station WUQT; Tokyo street scenes with American servicemen and Japanese citizens; buildings and street scenes in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Yokosuka; U.S. Army Transport General M.M. Patrick embarking from Yokohama and arrival in San Francisco, September 1946; Frank Ochoa and fellow soldiers. Most photos have captions. 

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James W. Ochs WWII Papers (RHC-55)

Jim Ochs was born in Charlevoix, Michigan in 1922. He was drafted in late 1942 and received training as a photographer. His division went to France in the fall of 1944, and was in action around Metz, in the Bulge counterattack, and Patton's advance into Germany. Collection includes a photo album of images taken by Ochs that document his tour of duty in France with the 26th Division, friends he acquired in France, and his leisure time activities. Also Army Signal Corps photos, documents, articles, letters, brochures and other printed materials, currency and artifacts collected by Ochs.

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Joseph P. Olexa WWII Memoir and Correspondence (RHC-93)

Joseph P. Olexa (1918-2000), of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Agnes (Van Der Weide) Olexa maintained regular correspondence throughout Joseph's service in the European Theater of World War II. The collection contains the original typescript draft of Joseph's World War II memoir "As I Remember..." as well as letters from Joseph to Agnes, written while he was serving abroad. Olexa attained the rank of Staff Sergeant in the United States Army, 26th Infantry, Company "L", and fought in the Invasion of Normandy, liberation of Belgium, Battle of Hürtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge. Though the letters to Agnes do not detail Olexa's military activity, they do depict the daily activities of an infantry soldier, and illustrate the blossoming romance between the two. The collection also contains a small selection of letters from Agnes to Joseph, and letters to Agnes from others. 

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Richard Platte Red Arrow Division Collection (RHC-99)

Sgt. Richard "Dick" Platte, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, served in the U.S. Army, 32nd Infantry "Red Arrow" Division, 126th 3rd Battalion, Headquarters Company. In the spring of 1942 the 32nd Division sailed to the South Pacific and settled in Australia. The 126th Regiment was organized into a combat team and was the first of U.S. forces dispatched to Port Moresby in New Guinea. This collection contains materials relating to the history of the U.S. Army 32nd Infantry "Red Arrow" Division during World War II collected by Richard Platte and his wife, Annette. This collection also contains a small amount of photographs, correspondence, and other ephemera relating to Richard Platte and the Red Arrow Division.

View the Richard Platte Red Arrow Division Collection Finding Aid


Rygaylo-Niedz Correspondence (RHC-128)

This collection contains approximately 900 letters written primarily by James “Jimmy” “Rig” Rygaylo (1920-1992) and Corrine Niedz (1923-1990) between 1943 and 1946, while Jimmy was serving voluntarily as an Air Corps Ground Technician in the United States Army Air Corps. Included are V-Mail cards and some correspondence from other friends and family. Letters written by James contain information on his day-to-day life on the base, information about his family, and his feelings for Corrine. Corrine’s letters to Jimmy contain updates on family, neighbors, friends, short stories about her day job, and wedding ideas. Included in the collection are letters from Jimmy’s sisters Helen and Stella, his military friends Gus, Daniel, and Clifton, and his distant relative Mrs. Bain. Corrine’s family letters include those from her mother, Mrs. Neidz, and her brother Dick who was stationed overseas in France. In June of 1944, Corrine left New York to join James in Kansas, where the couple married shortly after.

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Shumway-Kummerwold Letters (RHC-113)

Robert Alan Shumway, Sr. (1923-1993), born in Duluth, Minnesota served in both World War Two and the Korean War. He was married to June Elizabeth Kummerwold (1924-2013) and together had three children: Robert A. Shumway, Jr. (1945-1983), Thomas Raymond (born 1947), and Claude Dennis (born 1949). This collection contains 297 letters, postcards, and greeting cards for the most part sent and received by members of the Shumway and Kummerwold families of Duluth, Minnesota. Eighty of these letters were sent to Robert Shumway from his parents Claude and Luella relate details of life at home and frequent news of relatives, friends, social activities, advice about marriage, health and illnesses, shopping and shortages on the home front. The sixty-five letters sent to Robert Shumway from his fiancée (and subsequent spouse), June Kummerwold, similarly mention life at home, work, mutual friends and schoolmates, wedding plans, and from June 1945 her pregnancy. 

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Clara Stoup Papers (RHC-141)

Clara Stoup (1884-1967) was born in Oakmont, Pennsylvania and after receiving her teaching certificate in 1904, began to travel Europe and the American West. During World War I, Clara volunteered with the YMCA in France to provide humanitarian and general war relief services. From late October of 1918 to the summer of 1919, she was on Canteen duty in the following locations in France: Fays Billot, Vitrey, Villers-le-Bois, Chateau-du-loire, and Ecommoy. This collection contains documents, photograph albums, and a uniform related to Clara Stoup's (later Crossley) YMCA service during World War I. One photograph album appears to document Clara's family life after the War. The date of this collection ranges from 1917 to 1920.

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John H. Teyson Letters (RHC-98)

John H. Teyson (1907-1993) served in the U.S. Army and attended training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana and Camp Cushing, San Antonio, Texas in 1943. In 1944, Teyson was stationed in India, where he worked on Army railway lines in the 6th Co. 721st Railway Operating Battalion. This Collection contains letters and postcards from Pvt. John H. Teyson to his friend "Radio Joe" (Joseph E. Allen) and his wife "Dot" in Hoboken, New Jersey. The letters date between July 1943 and October 1945, and detail Teyson's experiences as an Army Railway worker stationed in India during World War II. In addition to correspondence, the collection contains a U.S. Army orientation map of Madras, India and a train operator's ticket in English and Hindustani from 1945.

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Richard W. Thompson Letters (RHC-132)

Richard W. Thompson (b. ca. 1918) served in the United States Army Air Force as a B-17 Bomber co-pilot for the 401 Squadron 91st Bomb Group (H) during World War II. In June 1943 Thompson began Basic Flying School in Marana, Arizona and then Advanced Flight School in Marfa, Texas. He deployed to the European Theater of Operations, first with the 593 Squadron 396th Bomb Group and later with the 401 Squadron 91st Bomb Group where he was co-pilot of the B-17 Flying Fortress "The Spirit of Billy Mitchell." In May 1944, Thompson went "missing in action" and later that month his parents received a letter from him written from the Luftwaffe-run prisoner-of-war-camp Stalag Luft III. Thompson spent the next year as a prisoner of war until he was released in April 1945 and returned to the U.S. in September 1945. Collection contains the letters of Thompson to his mother, Mabel Hughes of Chicago, Illinois, dating from January 8, 1942 to October 22, 1945. Collection also contains a small amount of photographs, newspaper clippings, and an interview with Thompson recorded on 8mm videocassette.

View the Richard W. Thompson Letters Finding Aid


U.S.S. Michigan Collection (RHC-48)

The name U.S.S. Michigan has been shared by 3 vessels in the United States Navy, U.S.S. Michigan (1843-1949), renamed the U.S.S. Wolverine; the U.S.S. Michigan (Battleship BB-27); and the U.S.S. Michigan SSBN 727, a Trident-class missile submarine launched in 1980. This collection focuses on the U.S.S. Michigan (Battleship BB-27), but includes articles, images, and memorabilia of all three vessels.

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Edward Wahl Letters (RHC-114)

Edward Wahl (1906-1993) was born Memelburg, East Prussia (now Klaipėda, Lithuania) and was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1944 and reported for duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on 29 February where he had basic training. He was later transferred to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for his posting assignment, on 26 October, to the Prisoner of War camp in AuTrain, Michigan. He was ultimately discharged from the service in October 1945. The collection consists of 235 letters written by Private Edward Wahl to his wife, Vera at their home in Lyons, Kansas dated from 28 February 1944 until 4 October 1945. Contents generally reflect Edward's disgruntlement and disgust with the Armed Forces for his being drafted at the age of 37 with three dependents. Most valuable is his description of the AuTrain (Michigan) prisoner of war camp where he has been put in charge of the camp's PX (Post Exchange). He frequently mentions specific German prisoners of war, their stories and holiday celebrations, and details of camp organization and routine.

View the Edward Wahl Letters Finding Aid