This collection is made up of around 150 letters that Sergeant Carl P. Swanson wrote to his family in Sparta, Michigan, while serving in the United States Army during World War II. Swanson served with the 976th Engineer Maintenance Company in Europe from July 1944-January 1946.
Carl Philip Swanson regularly corresponded with his parents and siblings throughout his military service. He discussed his daily routine and training exercises at Fort Custer, Michigan, and Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, in the summer of 1943. After October 1943, he was stationed at Camp McCain, Mississippi, where he joined an engineer regiment. Swanson often commented on his travels between different camps, particularly in the South, and on his experiences while on leave. On October 25, 1943, he described a visit to Grenada, Mississippi, where he noticed the segregation between African Americans and whites.
After his arrival in England in July 1944, Swanson served in France, Germany, and Belgium, where his regiment repaired equipment. He continually assured his parents that he was far behind the front lines and shared his optimism about a quick end to the war. He also mentioned his food, lodgings, and the scenery, which included scenes of destruction in France. In his leisure time, particularly after the German surrender, he attended movies and USO shows. Swanson occasionally referred to Buchenwald, which he had seen after its liberation, and noted the animosity between Polish guards and German prisoners of war in a Belgian camp (October 24, 1945). While on leave in England after the war, he wrote about his relationship with an English woman named Brenda. Swanson's final letter is from Newfoundland, Canada, in January 1946, and he sent 3 telegrams shortly afterward about his return to the United States.
Carl Swanson's correspondence includes V-mail letters, a greeting card, and stationery from the United States Army and Camp McCain. Undated items are letters, a postcard with a painting of Marseille, France, and a printed brochure about the YMCA's work with Polish youth after the war. The Swanson family occasionally received letters from acquaintances.