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Edward G. Finlay First World War correspondence

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2017-203-w-r

Content Description

The bulk of this collection is comprised of correspondence (52 correspondence) from Pvt. Edward Grant Finlay, USA of Co A, 122 Engineers to his parents and youngest sister, Alice, at their home in Westfield, NY. There is also correspondence (19 correspondence) to Finlay from his family, neighbors, and friends. One letter from his father, Asa ("Ace") Finlay, is written on the verso of a letter from Edward. There is also one letter that was sent to Mrs. Asa (Nellie) Finlay from Elizabeth ("Lizzie" and "El"), Pvt. Finlay's oldest sister who worked a clerical job in Washington D.C. during the war.

Finlay's correspondence describe his camp experiences in France. He worked near Le Mans doing construction before moving to Beaune to study agriculture at an AEF university. The correspondence includes commentary, positive and derogatory, about African American and Italian American soldiers. Much of the correspondence concerns family and local gossip, including wages at fruit canneries and railroads in and near Westfield. The influenza epidemic, which affected Asa and Alice Finlay, was also a regular topic. The collection includes reproductions of two photos of Edward Finlay, originally taken in 1912 and 1918. There is also one small notebook in which Finlay recorded the addresses of soldiers, and provided a brief account of his journey home and subsequent efforts to find work. Lastly, there are identification cards and souvenir French currency.


  • Creation: June 19, 1918 - June 3, 1919

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

Private Edward Grant Finlay, United States Army (1896 - 1984) was born in Westfield, NY. He was with Company D of 211 Engineers until September of 2018; the 116 Engineers until November of 2018; and then Company A 122 Engineers until discharge in July of 1919. He attended the American Expeditionary Forces University in Beaune from March 1919 to June 1919, where he studied agriculture before returning to the United States. He married Mary Elizabeth Macer of Westfield on June 3, 1925. The couple did not have any children. Finlay worked as a trimmer in an auto factory in Detroit, as a machinist at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in Dunkirk, and as a carpenter in Westfield. He was a member of the Westfield Fish and Game club and the National Rifle Association, for which he served as a junior hunter's instructor. He is buried in Westfield Cemetery alongside his wife, who died in 1992.


.4 Linear feet (9 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence to and from Private Edward Grant Finlay during the First World War. There are also two photos, a small notebook, identification cards, and ephemera.


This collection is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Bonnie Lancaster


The gift paperwork that accompanied this collection includes part of an oral history of Edward Grant Lindley that was conducted and transcribed in 1979.

Finding Aid for the Edward G. Finlay First World War correspondence
Wendy Gonaver
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States