Table of Contents
A Guide to the collection at the Connecticut Historical Society
Frank Smith (b. ca. 1896) was the son of John and Annie Smith of New London, Connecticut. The family home was at 60 Denison Street. His older brother James married and lived in the same home. In 1918, Frank either enlisted or was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served state-side with the Quartermaster’s Corps at camps in New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Ohio before being discharged in March 1919. His father John died in January 1919, while Frank was still away from home. Frank was a machinist. He later married Anna and had a son Frank, who then served in the army during World War II.
The collection primarily consists of the letters written to Frank Smith while he was in the army. Evidently Frank was a bit of a ladies’ man. Many of his letters are from young women, including Genevieve from Boston, Mabel from New Bedford, Mass., Helen Green of New London, and Ruth of Washington, DC. While stationed at Fort Mead, Maryland, and Fort Meigs in Washington, DC, Frank met and started wooing Elizabeth Martin. Numerous letters from her to Frank (and to his mother) are in the collection. Other letters are from cousins and aunts in New Jersey and New London, including Margaret Schrader and Tess (last name unknown). He also received letters from some of his co-workers from J.N. Lapointe Co., who addressed him by the nickname “Smoke”. All of these letters are arranged chronologically.
Separated from the general correspondence to Frank are those from his mother, who pined for her younger son and expressed her fears he would be sent overseas. Most of her letters describe how much she missed him. She mentions various love affairs in town, names those who had gone into the army, relates family feuds, and celebrates the birth of her first grandchild. During 1918, she frequently mentions the number of people in New London who are ill with the flu, and the numbers who were dying. She also mentions the parade in town when peace was declared in November 1918. Annie also cautions Frank against getting married while he is away. One unique entry describes her physical complaints to her “change of life”.
Only a few of the letters written by Frank to his mother survive. They indicate Frank was a rather responsible fellow, although he liked a good time. These are followed in the collection by letters written to Annie Smith, Frank’s mother, by relatives and friends, and to Anna Smith, Frank’s wife.
There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Use of the material requires compliance with the Connecticut Historical Society's Research Center regulations.
Smith, Frank, b. ca. 1896.
New London (Conn.) --History --Sources.
World War, 1914-1918 --United States.
Item, Collection Title, Collection number (Box #, Folder #). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.
Collection was processed by Barbara Austen in 2007.
EAD Finding Aid created June 2011.