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
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
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.
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."
I. Correspondence, 1919, 1941-1944 II. Photographs, 1933, 1943 III. War Realia, 1941-1947
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 clipping 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 1943 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
Last modified: 01/19/11