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Mary Frances Willard Letters

 Collection
Identifier: spe-w00138

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 52 typed copies of her original letters (322 pages) that Mary Frances Willard sent to her family members while serving as a YMCA canteen worker in France during World War I. It is unknown when these typed copies were made.

Dates

  • 1918 - 1919

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff at Chicago Public Library Special Collections to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Frances Willard (1869-1961) was a Chicagoan who resided in the Rogers Park neighborhood. In 1918, Willard enlisted to serve as a YMCA canteen worker in France during World War I. She was 48 years old at the time of her departure. Known as “Aunt May” to her family, Willard addressed all of her letters to “Dear Homefolks.” Her YMCA canteen duties included securing supplies, preparing such comforts for soldiers as hot chocolate, donuts and a convivial tent atmosphere. She was stationed in Le Mans, Marseilles, Paris and Troyes. World War I ended shortly after her arrival. The YMCA presence continued through the slow withdrawal of U.S. troops across France. Her letters comment on various topics including food supply, living conditions, African American soldiers (pages 54-55, 78, 82,83, 87), and the 1918 influenza pandemic (pages 50, 52, 66, 77, 106).

Extent

.5 Linear Feet (in 1 box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection consists of 52 typed copies of her original letters (322 pages) that Mary Frances Willard (Aunt May) sent to her family members while serving as a YMCA canteen worker in France during World War I.

Arrangement

The letters are arranged chronologically as they were numbered by the typist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Willard's nephew, Charles E. Baker, in 1983

Related Materials

World War I Collection

Title
Guide to the Mary Frances Willard Letters
Status
Completed
Author
Michelle McCoy
Date
2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Contact:
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875