Memories of the 1940s: World War II collections at HSP

World War II pilots with airplane, photograph (1943), Society photograph collection.

The week marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and its aftermath, including the United States’ entry into World War II. For some, the memories of that day remain forever engrained. Their voices, in the form of primary sources from that era serve as powerful remembrances of that time period, of loved ones separated, of home front heroes, and of the war itself.

Those collections HSP has that recall the World War II era are varied and insightful. Below is a list of just some of these collections. Whether you’re researching a family member who served during the war, doing a study of World War II propaganda, or just want to know what life was like for soldiers before, during, and after the war, these collections illuminate an era in which people banded together, donated time, and served the county for a common cause.

American Friends Service Committee, Clothing Committee, Japanese American relocation center card files (MSS065) — The Clothing Committee of the American Friends Service Committee sent gifts of clothing, toys, and other articles to Japanese Americans living in relocation projects during World War II.  This collection contains AFSC administrative files for their program with new mothers.

Joseph Beck papers (Collection 3083) — Joseph E. Beck (1904-1981) was a social worker who helped Jewish refugees during World War II. He became the executive director of the Jewish Family Society of Philadelphia in 1934.

Herman Berger papers (Collection 3075) — Philadelphia Herman Berger was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1946. After basic training, he sent to occupied Japan and assigned to duty as a clerk typist at U.S. military general headquarters in Tokyo, where he served from September 1946 to February 1947.

Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle papers (Collection 3110) — Biddle was a politician whose career took a turn to diplomacy before and during Word War II. From about 1935 to 1944 he served as U. S. ambassador to several European countries, including Norway, Poland and France. There’s no finding aid yet for this collection, but there is a paper inventory in our library.  The collection is slated for processing next year under our current NHPRC grant.

Frank Gordon Bradley letters (Collection 3548) – Bradley, who lived in Philadelphia but was born in Connecticut,  served with the United States Army during World War II. This collection consists of approximately 300 letters written by Bradley to his family in Connecticut during the war.

James Cleary papers (Collection 3086) — During World War II, Cleary volunteered as an air raid warden and help run collections for  scrap cans, rubber, and other items in his North Philadelphia neighnorhood.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection of World War II papers (Collection 1479) — In late 1942, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania solicited materials to form an artificial collection to document the war effort of a number of community and social service agencies in Philadelphia. The collection contains numerous materials such as correspondence, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and ephemera

Historical Society of Pennsylvania war posters collection (Collection V95) — This collection contains over 500 original posters from both the World War I and World War II eras.  Many organizations and artists are represented.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania World War II propaganda collection (Collection 3335) — This collection is comprised of posters, magazine advertisements, flyers, and pamphlets from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies dating from the late 1930s to the 1940s.  Most items focus on the conflict in Europe.

Sumiko Kobayashi papers (MSS073/PG230 and MSS073A) — In May 1942 Kobayashi’s family was evacuated from its California home under Executive Order 9066 to the Tanforan Assembly Center, a former race track, and then placed in the internment camp in Topaz, Utah. Her papers document her experiences as a young woman in leaving the Topaz internment camp to enroll in college, and her later activities on behalf of redress for Japanese Americans who had been imprisoned in the internment camps in World War II.

Leon Kolankewicz papers (Collection 3071) — Kolankiewicz was a Pennsylvania assemblyman and Philadelphia councilman. He was appointed president of the Philadelphia chapter of American Relief for Poland in 1929. He later served as vice-president then president of the Polish National Committee in Philadelphia, and he was a committee member of the short-lived (December 1939-June 1940) Philadelphia Chapter of the Commission for Polish Relief.

Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd papers on American Red Cross’s Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service (Collection 3647) — Eleanor Burrough Morris (Mrs. Stacy B) Lloyd Mrs. Lloyd became the director of the nation’s first American Red Cross Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service, which opened Philadelphia in February 1943. From then through the end of the war in 1945, Lloyd supervised hundreds of mostly women volunteers as they created care packages for prisoners in war camps in Europe and Japan.

Edward A. Psulkowski letters (Collection 3123) — Psulkowski served with the Army Air Corps, 494 Bombardment Group (H), 864th Squadron. This colelction of letters narrates the story of two pen pals (Psulkowski and Gladys Kramer) who fell in love during World War II and married in 1946

We have dozens more World War II-related collections that are open for research.  For further descriptions and availability check our online catalog Discover.  If you’re interested in images, search our new Digital Library, as some items from these collections have been digitized.  If you need research help or have any questions, see our website for services and contacts.

Good things come in small packages: the papers of Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd

As interesting as it can be to process a large collection of papers from an individual or organization, I find processing small collections just as satisfying, if not more so.  It’s true that small collections can be difficult to process since sometimes there’s not enough information in them to form coherent background or scope notes, but that’s not the case with the Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd papers on the American Red Cross’s Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service.  We took in this 2-box collection last year, it was adopted by the donor, and onto my processing list it went.

Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd at the Philadelphia packing plant, photograph (circa 1943)

Red Cross pamphlet (circa 1944)

Inside text of Red Cross pamphlet (circa 1944)

Eleanor Burroughs Morris, a descendant of Philadelphia’s second mayor, Anthony Morris (1654-1721), was born in 1881 to Effingham Buckley Morris and Ellen Douglas Burroughs of Ardmore, Pennsylvania.  On October 25, 1902, she married Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Sr., president of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society.   (Aside: if you’re wondering why this collection isn’t called the “Eleanor Burroughs Morris papers…” it’s because she is repeatedly referred to [and refers to herself] as “Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd” throughout the papers; and we have to go with the most recognizable name to aid in accessibility.)

Form letter from Mrs. Lloyd with information about the food packing service, page 1 (circa 1943)

Form letter from Mrs. Lloyd with information abour the food packing service, page 2 (circa 1943)

Mrs. Lloyd became the director of the nation’s first American Red Cross Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service, which opened at 30th Street and Allegheny Avenue in Philadelphia on February 1, 1943.  From early 1943 through the end of the war in 1945, Lloyd supervised hundreds of mostly women volunteers as they created care packages for Allied prisoners in war camps in Europe and Japan.  In the thirty or so months that the Philadelphia packing center existed, its workers sent over a million prisoner of war food packages.   Recognizing her dedication to the cause, Mrs. Lloyd received the Gimbel Award for “America’s outstanding woman” in 1944.

Letter from Red Cross chairman to Mrs. Lloyd (26 January 1945)

While this collection is not the be all and end all when it comes to the Red Cross’s WWII food packing service, it certainly serves as a very useful starting point for anyone who looking to research or learn more about it.  It covers a strict time period (1943-1945, with a few items dating from before 1940) but is rich in details concerning the outcome of Mrs. Lloyd’s work overseeing the American Red Cross’s first Allied prisoners of war food packing center in Philadelphia.  Granted, one won’t find out how Mrs. Lloyd became involved with the service, but one will discover the important role this service played in the lives of the servicemen who received the packages, as well as in the lives of the local packing volunteers.  There’s one box of photographs highlighting the packing service (but there are also some of prisoners in camps) and one box of manuscripts that include clippings; correspondence; Mrs. Lloyd’s speech notes and radio transcripts; Red Cross forms, form letters, and brochures; and letters and receipts from prisoners.

Women volunteers on the packing assembly line, photograph (circa 1944)

Here's what the soldiers received in each package. May not look like much, but they were called "gifts from heaven" in one article in the collection, photograph (circa 1944)

The finding aid for the Mrs. Stacy B. Lloyd papers on the American Red Cross’s Allied Prisoners of War Food Packing Service is now available online and in HSP’s library.

The American Red Cross also offers it’s own online museum that contains further information on its history and many services, including those provided during World War II.