Time Capsule: Letters from Home

Time Capsule: Letters from Home

Ancestors in their own words.

Gas City, April 30, 1945, #175

Dear Jim,

I’m learning to bake. Tonight I made some Toll House Cookies, and since they turned out good, I shall send some next time. Since the war with Germany is just about over, I thought I should learn to bake. Very soon I will try some rolls and then a cake again.

Jim, do you think you will get a furlough after the war with Germany? That would be the most wonderful thing in the world. I am afraid to count on it though. Most articles say the boys will be sent directly to the Pacific. Maybe you will be one of the fortunate ones.

I am praying you will get home soon.

Love, Florence

Florence E. Webb and James M. Huston were from neighboring towns in Indiana and met through family matchmakers in 1942. James was sent to Europe in April 1944, and they wrote to each other almost daily until they were reunited in April 1946.

In the late 1980s, historians Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith decided to write a book about the letters women wrote to soldiers during World War II. But they met with a problem in their initial research.

Although the historians uncovered many collections of letters soldiers had written to wives, girlfriends and mothers back home, they had trouble finding letters the women had written. When they queried archives and historical societies, they were told men in combat were under orders not to keep personal materials, so they’d destroy letters from home after reading them.

Not convinced this was truly the case, Litoff and Smith sent queries requesting women’s WWII letters to the editors of 1,400 newspapers and about 400 popular and professional magazines. To their delight, the response yielded 25,000 donated letters. Now known as the US Women and World War II Letter Writing Project, the collection comprises 30,000 letters to date.

You can read more letters like Florence Webb’s in Litoff and Smith’s book Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front (University Press of Kansas).

From the November 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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