This collection contains around 85 letters that 2nd Lieutenant Joseph O. Mitchell wrote to his mother in Illinois while serving in the United States Army during World War I. Mitchell discussed his experiences in training camps in the United States (June 1917-September 1918) and his service and travels in France (September 1918-July 1919). The collection also contains ephemera items, writings, and a manuscript map.
Early items in the Correspondence series include a letter that Mary L. Mitchell received from Frederick W. Mann of the University of Illinois's Department of Architecture (April 19, 1912) and a letter that Joseph Mitchell wrote to his mother from Camp Wilson, Texas, during his time in the 1st Illinois Field Artillery Regiment (August 31, 1916). The bulk of the collection is comprised of Mitchell's letters to his mother from training camps in the United States and, later, from France and England, where he was a 2nd lieutenant in the 333rd Field Artillery Regiment. Mitchell commented on his daily activities at Camp Grant, Illinois; Camp Robinson, Wisconsin; Camp Mills, New York; and other camps. In the spring of 1918, he attended a lecture by Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski (undated). While in France, he described his surroundings, especially after the armistice; he wrote less frequently about the war. Mitchell's letter of October 13, 1918, mentions the Germans' fear of African-American troops, and his letter of November 12, 1918, concerns the end of the war. An undated letter written around October 1917 contains a sketch of a sign depicting a German military helmet and a decorated German officer.
The Writings, Printed Items, Map, and Ephemera series (8 items) contains a 7-page typed account of the 161st Artillery Brigade's march from Camp Grant, Illinois, to Camp Robinson, Wisconsin, in 1918, attributed to Joseph O. Mitchell; the account encloses 9 labeled photographs of campsites. Other items include an unsigned note of commemoration for Mitchell's service from the "Architect's Office of the Board of Education;" a menu for a dinner held at Base Hospital 53 on May 8, 1919; a newsletter commemorating the 20th anniversary of officers' graduation from the Fort Sheridan Officers' Training Camps (1937); a note containing Mitchell's address; and 2 newspaper clippings. A manuscript map depicts the grounds of a monastery used to train and house American troops.