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Vera L. Sawyer First World War correspondence

 Collection — flat-box: 1
Identifier: 2019-095-s-r

Content Description

This collection contains two octavo volumes of approximately 118 pages and 222 pages of typewritten transcriptions of correspondence to Vera L. Sawyer during the First World War. Included are various letters from Sawyer’s friends written to her during the First World War. Sawyer transcribed the letters by typewriter and bounded the letters in a three-ring binder. Also included are 22 photographs of soldiers and airplanes separate from the volumes, as well as 162 original stamps and 75 postcards with Japanese writing and art contained within the volumes, afixed to pages.

The first volume contains letters from Mabel Noyes, a nurse in the Harvard Surgical Unit told Sawyer of daily activities around the hospital. Noyes also served during the First World War in Great Britain helping various wounded troops. At camp, her unit was small and she was expecting more doctors and nurses to arrive. Letters from Corp. Bernard Scanlan, USA were sent to Sawyer during his time stationed in France. He wrote about the hardships of war, including searching for an escaped prisoner, disliking a transfer, and being separated from friends. He then stated that it was not as bad as he was busy with socializing and working. He brought up going home several times and provided updates on his homeward bound status. A letter from Corp. Eliot Lovett thanked Sawyer for thinking of him during Christmas.

The bulk of the correspondence is from Florence Hayford. Florence Hayford of the American Red Cross served outside of the States and wrote about her time on board of an unknown vessel. After landing in London, Florence adjusted well to her new surroundings and wrote about her fondness of the city. Florence then went to France and liked Paris more than London. She described other nurses and doctors she worked with during her time in Paris. She complained of the prices and living situations quite a bit. Many of Florence letters included tales of sightseeing and social events she was involved in. November 11, 1918 was the day the armistice between the allies and Germany was signed. She was in Paris and wrote about the celebrations she took part in. The celebration included drinking and dancing with various American Red Cross workers and meeting many heads of the YMCA. After the armistice, Florence wrote that her department would be one of the firsts to be abolished. She was then transferred into the Home Service Department where she would be doing administrative work. She at first was nervous and upset for the transfer, but she mentioned it was getting better. Ever since the armistice ended, there had been more opportunities to explore the area, go out, and host parties. As mail became slower, she mentioned missing home more. Her final letters were written when she went on leave to Chamonix.

A letter from Harold Kilbourn thanked Sawyer for the Christmas card. Louis Sawyer, cousin of Vera, wrote from Nevers after traveling from La Havre and Romovantin. S1 Joe Stevens, USN wrote from camp in Boston, MA. He took a few trips to Galllups Island with a small crew. A letter from Cpt. Frank Sammis, USMC and Israel Izen are included providing updates while serving.

Also included in this volume are the original stamps.

The second binder includes transcribed copies of letters from Henrietta A. Kilbourn who was traveling to various places in Asia from April 1, 1928 to June 26, 1928. She embarked on the SS President Jackson to Tokyo, Japan. She described the luxuries of her visit that include food, hotel, and shopping during her stay. She also visited Osaka, Kyoto, and Shanghai, China. She described the people she encountered including “beggars” and “natives.” After, she set sail for Hawaii, arriving for Kamehameha Day where she watched a parade. Many of her letters describe in detail the food she ate while traveling. This binder contains the various postcards and descriptions of the pictures on them.


  • 1915 July 11 - 1928 July 27

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Vera L. Sawyer (1/17/1887-1/24/1958) was born in Milbridge, Maine to Winslow and Alice Sawyer. She moved to Boston, Massachussetts to live with her uncle, aunt, and cousins. She worked as a secretary for a law firm.

Florence Hayford (1/17/1892-1/1970) was born in Milbridge, Maine. She worked with the American Red Cross during the First World War and served overseas. She worked with the YMCA and the Home Service Department.

Henrietta A. Kilbourn (1881-1949) was born in Racine, Wisconsin to Edward and Julia Kilbourn. Her father, mother, siblings, and she moved to Beloit, Wisconsin where she worked as an assistant treasurer for Beloit College. She moved to Boston, Massachussetts to live with her uncle, aunt, and cousins, including Vera L. Sawyer. She worked as a restaurant manager.


1 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains two binders of typewritten transcriptions of correspondence to Vera L. Sawyer during the First World War. Also included in this collection are photographs. The correspondence were from various authors who served overseas during the war including nurses of the American Red Cross. One binder contains correspondence from various authors during the war. The other binder contains correspondence from Henrietta A. Kilbourn while she traveled to various places in Asia.


This collection is arranged in original order; two binder kept intact, in chronological order by author.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc.

Finding Aid for the Vera L. Sawyer First World War correspondence
Emily Olague
October 8, 2019
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives, Leatherby Libraries Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange 92866 USA US