University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

William Richardson Collection

1919 - 1947

(bulk dates 1941 - 1943)

Manuscript Collection Number: 158
Accessioned: Gift of Leila Richardson Little, 1985
Extent: .6 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, pamphlets, clippings, photographs, postcards, telegrams, negatives, and realia
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1993 by Kelly Baum

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

William Richardson was born on March 17, 1919, the second son of Orville and Leila Richardson. Shortly after William was born, his father died in the flu epidemic of that same year. Sometime before 1936, Leila Richardson then married Orville Little. In 1937, William Richardson graduated from Newark High School, and in 1941 he received a B.A. from the University of Delaware where he was a member of ROTC.

In 1941, William Richardson entered into active military duty with the army as a first lieutenant. He was stationed at Fort Miles, Delaware; Fort Monroe, Virginia; and in New York until September 1942. At that time, he was transferred to England and then, until 1943, was stationed in North Africa and Sicily during the invasions of those areas. Through the course of his service with the military, he corresponded almost daily with his mother, friends, and family back in Newark. The bulk of this collection consists of these letters sent between 1941 and 1943. Richardson returned to the United States in December 1943 and was placed on inactive duty in March 1944. He died only four years later in 1948.


Note: Biographical information is derived from correspondence in the collection.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists mainly of correspondence circulating between William Richardson and his mother, brother, step-father, friends and other relatives while he was serving in the military in World War II. Also included are photographs, telegrams, postcards, realia from the war, newspaper clippings, articles and pamphlets. Material in the collection is perhaps most important for its firsthand account of significant events and places of World War II. Because the bulk dates of the collection span 1941 to 1943, the material corresponds with the mobilization of American troops towards Europe and the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Richardson's letters elucidate the feelings, fears, anxieties, loneliness and excitement of an enlisted man and those of his loved ones. In volume alone, this collection of letters attests to the importance Americans attached to correspondence during the war.

The collection is arranged into three series. Series I consists of correspondence exchanged between William Richardson, his family and friends. Many of these letters contain notations made by Richardson's mother in 1985 when the collection was donated to Special Collections. Series II consists of photographs, some taken by Richardson while in North Africa and a 1933 photo of Leila Richardson Little, his mother. Series III contains an array of realia from the lines and the homefront during the war, including leave passes, pay data cards, certificates, booklets, newspapers clippings, a window service card and a "dog tag."

Series List

I.   Correspondence, 1919, 1941-1944

II.  Photographs, 1933, 1943

III. War Realia, 1941-1947 

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

     Series I. Correspondence, 1919, 1941-1944

1    F1   1919
          Includes a letter written by a family friend to
          Bill Richardson's aunt concerning his father's death

     F2   1941 Nov-Dec

     F3   1942 Jan-Jun

     F4   1942 Jul-Aug

     F5   1942 Sep-Dec

     F6   1943 Jan-Apr
          Includes one photograph and one French newspaper

     F7   1943 May-Jun
          Includes two telegrams and one cablegram

     F8   1943 Jul

     F9   1943 Aug

     F10  1943 Sep
          Includes a Nazi swastika patch from the tunic of a
          German aviator

2    F11  1943 Oct

     F12  1943 Nov - 1944 Jan

          Series II.  Photographs, 1933, 1943

     F13  Includes a 1933 photograph taken of Richardson's
          mother, Leila (Richardson) Little, and photographs
          taken by Richardson while on duty in North Africa in

     F14  Includes negatives to the North Africa pictures

          Series III.    War Realia, 1941-1947

     F15  Richardson's immunization register
          Officer's assignment roster, 1942
          Army memo to all officers, 1942
          Officer's pay data card, 1943
          Officer's pay data card, leave pass, 1943
          Ration card
          Richardson's service record
          Mrs. Leila Little's 1945 Red Cross certificate

     F16  Richardson's dog tags
          Five franc bill
          Ten World War II postage stamps
          Card designating Richardson's stateroom and
          lifeboat number on the U.S.S. General
          Window service card used by Richardson's mother, 1941-1944
          Richardson's newspaper photo
          Lyrics to two songs

     F17  Includes a 1944 booklet regarding World War II and
          a 1947 American Legion booklet

     F18  Includes article excerpts and clippings from local
          Delaware newspapers, mostly from 1943

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