Mary Frances Willard Letters

Dates: 1918-1919
Size: .5 linear feet in 1 box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: w00138
Provenance: Donated by Willard's nephew, Charles E. Baker, in 1983
Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Mary Frances Willard Letters, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Michelle McCoy, 2020

Biographical Note

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).

Scope and Content

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.

Arrangement

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

Related Collections

World War I Collection

Subject Terms

  • Union Franco-Americaine--YMCA of the USA--1910-1920
  • United War Work Campaign, Inc.--YMCA of the USA--1910-1920
  • World War, 1914-1918--Finance--United States

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 Letter 1, at sea, 1918 August 9
Box 1 Folder 2 Letter 2, Paris, 1918 August 22
Box 1 Folder 3 Letter 3, Paris, 1918 August 25
Box 1 Folder 4 Letter 4, Paris, 1918 August 27
Box 1 Folder 5 Letter 5, Troyes, 1918 September 8
Box 1 Folder 6 Letter 6, Troyes, 1918 September 15
Box 1 Folder 7 Letter 7, Troyes, Aube, 1918 September 22
Box 1 Folder 8 Letter 8, Troyes, Aube, 1918 September 29
Box 1 Folder 9 Letter 9, Troyes, Aube, 1918 October 5
Box 1 Folder 10 Letter 10, Troyes, 1918 October 13
Box 1 Folder 11 Letter 11, Haussimont, 1918 October 16
Box 1 Folder 12 Letter 12, Troyes, Aube, 1918 October 27
Box 1 Folder 13 Letter 13, Troyes, Aube, 1918 November 3
Box 1 Folder 14 Letter 14, Troyes, Aube, 1918 November 10
Box 1 Folder 15 Letter 15, Troyes, Aube, 1918 November 17
Box 1 Folder 16 Letter 16, Troyes, Aube, 1918 November 24
Box 1 Folder 17 Letter 17 and note, Troyes, Aube, 1918 December 1
Box 1 Folder 18 Letter 18, Troyes, Aube, 1918 December 9
Box 1 Folder 19 Letter 19, Y.M.C.A. tent, Troyes, Aube, 1918 December 15
Box 1 Folder 20 Letter 20, Troyes, Aube, 1918 December 20
Box 1 Folder 21 Letter 21, Troyes, Aube, 1918 December 29
Box 1 Folder 22 Letter 22, Paris, 1919 January 5
Box 1 Folder 23 Letter 23, Pau, 1919 January 12
Box 1 Folder 24 Letter 24, Troyes, Aube, 1919 January 19
Box 1 Folder 25 Letter 25, Paris, 1919 January 26
Box 1 Folder 26 Letter 26, Le Mans, Sarthe, 1919 February 2
Box 1 Folder 27 Letter 27, Le Mans, 1919 February 9
Box 1 Folder 28 Letter 28, Le Mans, 1919 February 16
Box 1 Folder 29 Letter 29, Le Mans, 1919 February 22
Box 1 Folder 30 Letter 30, Le Mans, 1919 March 1
Box 1 Folder 31 Letter 31, Le Mans, 1919 March 9
Box 1 Folder 32 Letter 32, Le Mans, 1919 March 15
Box 1 Folder 33 Letter 33, Le Mans, 1919 March 22
Box 1 Folder 34 Letter 34, Le Mans, 1919 March 30
Box 1 Folder 35 Letter 35, Le Mans, 1919 April 7
Box 1 Folder 36 Letter 36, Marseilles, 1919 April 13
Box 1 Folder 37 Letter 37 and note, Marseilles, 1919 April 20
Box 1 Folder 38 Letter 38, Marseilles, 1919 April 27
Box 1 Folder 39 Letter 39 and 2nd Letter 39, Marseilles, 1919 May 4
Box 1 Folder 40 Letter 40, Marseilles, 1919 May 11
Box 1 Folder 41 Letter 41, Marseilles, 1919 May 18
Box 1 Folder 42 Letter 42, Marseilles, 1919 May 25
Box 1 Folder 43 Letter 43, Marseilles, 1919 June 1
Box 1 Folder 44 Letter 44, Marseilles, 1919 June 8
Box 1 Folder 45 Letter 45, Marseilles, 1919 June 15
Box 1 Folder 46 Letter 46, Marseilles, 1919 June 22
Box 1 Folder 47 Letter 47, Paris, 1919 June 29
Box 1 Folder 48 Letter 48, Paris, 1919 July 6
Box 1 Folder 49 Letter 49, Paris, 1919 July 16
Box 1 Folder 50 Letter 50, Paris, 1919 July 21
Box 1 Folder 51 Letter 51, Paris, 1919 July 30
Box 1 Folder 52 Letter 52, Paris, 1919 August 9
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