This collection is made up of 65 letters that Esther A. Bates of Omro, Wisconsin, received during World War I. Fred W. Moldenhauer, her future husband, wrote the majority of the letters while serving with the 331st Field Artillery Regiment at army camps from September 1917-September 1918, and after his return to the United States in February 1919.
Private Fred W. Moldenhauer wrote over 50 letters to Esther A. Bates between September 1917 and September 1918. He was primarily stationed at Camp Grant, Illinois, and Camp Robinson, Wisconsin, where he reported on many aspects of camp life and on mutual acquaintances, including those who were transferred to other camps. Moldenhauer often expressed his love for Bates, and he occasionally wrote loving messages in Morse code in his later letters. In one letter, he recounted his visit to a group of African Americans who lived near Camp Grant (November 13, 1917). Moldenhauer wrote 4 letters from Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and 2 letters from Camp Grant, Illinois, in February 1919, following his return from France. Among other subjects, he discussed his return voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Many of Moldenhauer's letters are directed to Bates, care of West Hall at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin.
Three other soldiers wrote letters to Esther A. Bates during the war. Ervin W. Steinert, a member of the 341st Infantry Regiment, Company K, and the 311th Field Signal Battalion, wrote about life at Camp Grant, Illinois. Among his correspondence is a printed Christmas card with the logo of the 311th Field Signal Battalion ([December 22, 1917]). Other writers were L. W. Lurd of the 128th Machine Gun Company, who described the country around Camp MacArthur, Texas, and a man named "Ernest," who anticipated his transfer from Camp Grant, Illinois.