Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Clinton W. Parker Papers, 1917-1919

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
M. L. J., November 1995

Summary Information
Title: Clinton W. Parker papers
Creator: Parker, Clinton W.
Inclusive dates: 1917-1919
Extent: 104 items
Abstract:
The Clinton W. Parker papers consist of letters to and from Parker, a Christian Scientist drafted into the military during World War I. The letters focus on Parker's faith, social activities and camp life.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by D. N. Diedrich. M-3012.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Clinton W. Parker papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Clinton W. Parker was raised in Wakefield, Massachusetts spent most of his life in the Boston suburb where he was born. Parker was raised a Baptist but around 1910 he experienced his first healing in Christian Science and became a student of this science. In 1916 he moved to New York where he worked for The Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn until the spring of 1918 when he was called to Washington D.C. to work in the Legal Bureau of the Procurement Division, Office of the General of Ordinance, at the War Department. On May 11, 1918 he received a letter from the Local Board 124 in New York City informing him he would be inducted into the service on May 25, 1918. Clinton was stationed at the Machine Gun Training Center, Camp Hancock in Augusta, Georgia for the next nine months.

The teachings of the Christian Science Church were very important to Clinton while he was in the army. He spent many hours with the Stinchfield's who ran the Christian Science Camp Welfare Room. During one service Stinchfield encouraged the Christian Science boys to make the "work a success in camp" (6/28/18), which Clinton strove to do. He also read The Monitor and other Christian Science literature, corresponded with other Scientists, and sought out Scientists in the community of Augusta.

Camp life was positive for Clinton at first. He was willing to endure the heat and poor conditions for patriotic duty. He hoped to go "over there" and was ready to sacrifice himself for the cause. Rumors about men going overseas and about changes in the draft continually circulated through the camp. Clinton's work seemed to be in the offices of the camp. Although he was not trained as a machine gunner, regular drills also seemed to be a part of his day. As the war neared its end in the fall of 1918, he only wanted to be released to return to New York.

Camp Hancock and Augusta were quarantined for several months during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918. Clinton credited his faith in Christian Science beliefs for saving him from the flu and from death during this period. His opinions were strong about those who relied on doctors for cures rather than on right thinking. Clinton finally admitted that the epidemic was "very bad" but still felt some people overreacted. He quoted Mrs. Eddy's teachings on infectious diseases and believed that the way he thought protected him as much or more than medicine. In January 1919 the flu returned to the camp. He wrote to his worried mother that "it is nothing more than a cold with an extra amount of fear attached" (1/17/19).

A memo dated November 2, 1918 encouraged men to ignore rumors of peace. "All the fighting brain-cells of the mind must be wide open, and all the peace brain-cells closed" (11/2/18). On November 7, believing that the war had ended, the city of Augusta celebrated. "The whistles blew, automobiles rushed up and down the streets with flags flying and horns blowing..." (11/8/95). Following the official end of the war, things began changing rapidly for Clinton and for Camp Hancock. Uncertainty about when he would be sent home or if he would be transferred to another camp filled his letters. The Army's plans for converting Camp Hancock into a permanent army base ceased.

As the war neared the end and after it was over, the tone of Clinton's letters changed regarding camp life. Without patriotic cause, he became more vocal about his distaste for the South and for the army. Now he watched men being sent home ahead of him while he remained in camp without much purpose and no hope of attending Officers Training School. Throughout his enlistment he had no furloughs but this did not seem to bother him until the war ended.

He was promoted several times and eventually reached the highest rank for a non-commissioned officer. In a letter following his last promotion, he told his mother that he worked quietly at his job and had not pushed for promotions like other fellows had. As a result he succeeded where others had failed.

Clinton enjoyed an active social life before and during his army days. Activities took place both in and out of camp. One captain threw large parties and banquets for his men, which caused them to wonder about their futures. Clinton saw these extravagances as a waste of money since men went hungry or had poor food the rest of the week. Frequent visits, usually including entertainment and a meal, were also made to families in Augusta and Aiken, South Carolina. Some seemed to be connected with the work of the church while others did not.

Clinton occasionally mentioned Papa but concentrated on his mother's financial and spiritual well being. Alma C. Parker had moved into her son's apartment when he departed for Washington, D.C. Her son encouraged her to attend lectures at the Brooklyn Institute and Lecture Series. He also encouraged her to register to vote as part of the Prohibition Party and to vote for Wilson. She did neither.

Carroll, Clinton's brother, was another concern. In August 1918, Clinton wrote his mother, "If Carroll is still going under an assumed name it will be a good chance to drop it and take up his right name..." (8/19/18). Finally, in the fall of 1918, Carroll enlisted in the Merchant Marines and was stationed in West Seattle. One long letter details his life there. Following the end of the war, Carroll was sent to Siberia.

Parker returned to his job at the Dime Savings Bank in Brooklyn and to life in New York City following the war.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The number of letters from friends, family members and business associates suggests that Clinton W. Parker corresponded with several people. Letters to his mother, Alma, were written at least once a week and comprise the bulk of the collection. A 12 page letter from Carroll, Clinton's brother, to his mother answers most of the questions and concerns about his well being and activities during the war (11/9/18).

The collection is a source of information of social and religious activities during the war. Clinton was a Christian Scientist and writes to his mother about his participation in services, his beliefs about illness and his attitudes developed based on these beliefs. The letters during the fall of 1918 when the camp was quarantined for the flu are particularly relevant. Letters from friends also include information about Christian Science activities.

Despite his duties at camp, Clinton maintained an active social life. His letters describe dinners, entertainment, and visits to several homes and hotels. He never tells his mother how he meets these associates or whether they are connected with his religious activities.

Camp life is another focus of the letters, however, the content consists mainly of his attitude about camp life rather than about the training. Opinions are guarded until the war ends and threats of censorship are decreased. Letters during the early fall describe the plans for building in the camp as it is being prepared to be a permanent military installation. His promotions are also a topic of his letters. His final promotion to Regimental Sergeant Major is a source of pride. Following this promotion Clinton received congratulations from a friend, "You sure deserved it and when a white man came in you got it" (1/10/19).

Clinton also corresponds with the officers of the Dime Savings Bank, where he worked before and after the war. The letters inform the bank about his status and finally request assistance for help in being released from the army (1/21/19).

A number of documents and memos from the army are included. The earliest dated document in the collection is a "Pledge of Loyalty" to the United States signed by Clinton and several other men. Other documents include notices from the Local Board informing him of his status, rosters of the men at Camp Hancock, a memo about the rumors of peace, and instructions for obtaining travel allowances for discharged men.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Christian Science.
    • Health--Religious aspects.
    • Hospitality.
    • Influenza.
    • Patriotism.
    • Quarantine.
    • Recruiting and enlistment.
    • Social networks.
    • United States. Army--Demobilization.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army--Promotions.
    • World War, 1914-1918.
    Genre Terms:
    • Military records.
    • Photographs.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1 World War I Small Collections  
    Clinton W. Parker papers,  1917 March 24–1919 January 1 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The Parker papers contain two drawings and several photographs. One drawing is a New Year's card depicting a depressed soldier waiting to be released from the service. The other drawing is of a man in uniform, possibly a self portrait. The photographs include views of the camp and men in camp. The drawings have been transferred to the Pen and Ink Collection. Photographs are housed in the Graphics Division.

    Partial Subject Index
    Allegiance--United States
    • 1917 March 24
    • 1918 November 2
    • 1918 December 27
    American Expeditionary Forces
    • 1918 October 13
    Annuities
    • 1918 June 4
    Apartment houses--New York City
    • 1918 April 13
    • 1918 May 9
    • 1919 January 22
    • 1919
    Bank employees
    • 1918 December 22
    • 1919 January 6
    • 1919 January 10
    • 1919 January 15
    • 1919 January 21
    Bereavement
    • 1918 October 14
    Bonus system
    • 1919 April 5
    • [n.d5]
    • [n.d. 6]
    Books and reading
    • 1918 October 14
    • 1918 December 22
    Brothers
    • 1918 April 23
    • 1918 June 7
    • 1918 August 19
    Christian life
    • 1919 October 22
    Christian Science
    • 1918 June 28
    • 1918 July 11
    • 1918 December 22
    • 1918 December 27
    • [1918]
    • 1919 January 17
    • 1919 February 4
    • 1919 October 22
    Christian Science--Doctrines
    • 1918 October 21
    • 1918 November 2
    • 1919 January 15
    Christian Science--Georgia
    • 1918 June 4
    • 1918 June 28
    • 1918 July 2
    • 1918 July 11
    • 1918 October 2
    Christmas cards
    • [1918 December ]
    • [1918 December ]
    Christmas--Georgia
    • 1918 December 22
    • 1918 December 27
    Dudley, Gordon
    • 1919 March 31
    Dymple, Amy
    • 1918 November 2
    Eddy, Mary Baker 1821-1910
    • 1918 July 11
    • 1918 October 21
    Farewells
    • 1919 February 4
    Fourth of July celebrations
    • 1918 July 11
    Gossip
    • 1918 September 5
    Grand army of the republic
    • 1910 January 10
    • 1918 August 27
    Halloween
    • 1918 November 2
    Health--Religious aspects
    • 1918 October 21
    • 1918 December 22
    • 1918 December 27
    • 1919 January 15
    • 1919 January 17
    Homesickness
    • 1918 October 29
    • 1919 January 22
    Hospitality--Georgia
    • 1918 October 10
    • 1918 December 10
    • 1919 January 10
    • 1919 February 28
    • [n.d. 4]
    Hughes, George F.
    • 1919 January 31
    Influenza--Georgia
    • 1918 October 2
    • 1918 October 14
    • 1918 October 21
    • 1918 November 18
    • 1919 January 10
    • 1919 January 14
    • 1919 January 17
    Influenza--New York
    • 1918 November 12
    Influenza--Seattle
    • 1918 November 9
    Influenza--South Carolina
    • 1919 January 28
    Insurance, life
    • 1918 June 4
    Jayne, J. J.
    • 1919 January 31
    Lansing, Mrs. Robert
    • [1918}
    Lectures and lecturing
    • 1918 September 27
    • 1919
    Leighter, Joseph
    • [1918}
    Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924
    • 1919 January 17
    Marshall, Thomas Riley
    • [1918}
    Merchant Marine--Military life
    • 1918 November 9
    Merchant Marine--United States
    • 1918 November 9
    Military service, Voluntary--Canada
    • 1917 September 2
    Mothers and sons
    • 1918 April 13
    • 1918 May 9
    • 1918 October 10
    • 1919 January 15
    New Thought
    • 1918 September 12
    • 1918 September 27
    • [1918}
    New Year
    • [1918 December ]
    • [1919 January 1]
    • 1919 January 15
    New Year--Georgia
    • 1919 January 2
    Parker, Alma C.
    • 1910 January 10
    • [1910]
    • [1911]
    Parker, Carroll
    • 1918 April 23
    • 1918 May 9
    • 1918 June 4
    • 1918 June 7
    • 1918 July 14
    • 1918 July 16
    • 1918 August 19
    • 1918 August 27
    • 1918 October 2
    • 1919
    Parker, Clinton W.
    • 1919 January 31
    Patriotism
    • 1917 March 24
    • 1918 April 24
    • 1918 September 16
    • 1918 September 27
    • 1918 October 10
    • 1918 October 14
    • 1918 November 2
    • 1918 December 27
    • [1918 December ]
    • [1918 December ]
    Propaganda
    • 1919 January 17
    Quarantine
    • 1918 June 1
    • 1918 October 14
    • 1918 October 29
    • 1918 November 8
    • 1918 November 9
    • 1918 November 18
    • 1918 December 2
    • 1918 December 6
    • [n.d. 12]
    Recruiting and enlistment
    • 1917 July 20
    • 1917 December 29
    • 1918 February 9
    • 1918 April 15
    • 1918 May 11
    • 1918 August 12
    • 1918 September 12
    Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
    • 1918 October 29
    • 1918 November 8
    • 1919 January 17
    Rovito, Adolph
    • 1919 January 31
    Rumor
    • 1918 November 2
    • 1918 November 8
    Savannah (Ga.)
    • 1919 February 8
    • 1919 February 6
    Scarlatina--Georgia
    • 1918 November 8
    Signals and signaling
    • 1917 September 2
    Social networks
    • 1918 June 28
    • 1918 August 12
    • 1918 August 19
    • 1918 August 27
    • 1918 September 5
    • 1918 October 2
    • 1918 December 3
    • [1918]
    • 1919 January 17
    • 1919 January 28
    • 1919 February 26
    • 1919 February 28
    Stovall, Pleasant, 1857-1935
    • 1919 January 17
    Thanksgiving Day
    • 1918 December 2
    Travel
    • 1918 May 9
    • 1919 February 6
    • [n.d. 6]
    Travel--Boats
    • 1919 February 4
    • 1919 February 8
    Trials (Military offenses)
    • 1919 March 31
    United States. Army
    • 1919 March 28
    • 1919 April 5
    • [n.d. 3]
    • [n.d. 5]
    • [n.d. 6]
    United States. Army--Appropriations and expenditures
    • 1919 February 28
    United States. Army--Demobilization
    • 1918 November 18
    • 1918 November 26
    • 1918 December 6
    • 1919 January 2
    • 1919 January 6
    • 1919 January 31
    • 1919 March 13
    United States. Army--Drill and tactics
    • 1918 June 28
    • 1918 July 19
    • 1918 October 21
    • 1918 December 6
    United States. Army--Job descriptions
    • [n.d. 1]
    • [n.d. 14]
    United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs
    • 1918 September 16
    United States. Army--Medical examinations
    • 1918 June 4
    • 1918 August 21
    United States. Army--Military life
    • 1918 July 14
    • 1918 July 19
    • 1918 August 12
    • 1918 September 12
    • [n.d. 12]
    • [n.d. 14]
    United States. Army--Military life--Caricatures and cartoons
    • [1919 January 1]
    • [n.d. 13]
    United States. Army--Promotions
    • 1918 September 16
    • 1918 December 13
    • 1918 December 22
    • 1918 December 27
    • 1919 January 10
    • 1919 January 10
    • 1919 January 15
    United States. Army--Registers
    • [n.d. 8]
    • [n.d. 11]
    Voter registration
    • 1918 October 10
    Wages--Bank employees
    • 1918 April 24
    • 1918 June 7
    Walker, Russell S.
    • 1919 January 22
    War--Religious aspects
    • 1918 May 10
    • 1918 July 11
    Washington D.C.
    • [1918}
    Weld, Frederick Coldon
    • 1919 January 31
    Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924
    • 1918 October 29
    • 1918 November 8
    • 1919 January 17
    Women's Relief Corps
    • 1910 January 10
    • [1910]
    • [1911]
    Women--Suffrage
    • 1918 October 10
    World War, 1914-1918
    • 1917 July 20
    • 1917 September 2
    • 1918 May 9
    • 1918 May 11
    • 1918 June 1
    • 1918 June 4
    • 1918 June 28
    • 1918 October 2
    • 1918 October 29
    • 1918 November 8
    • 1918 November 18
    • 1918 November 26
    World War, 1914-1918--Finance
    • 1918 April 23
    • 1918 July 16
    World War, 1914-1918--France
    • 1918 October 13
    World War, 1914-1918--Germany
    • 1918 November 27
    World War, 1914-1918--Job descriptions
    • 1918 July 2
    World War, 1914-1918--Peace
    • 1918 November 2
    • 1918 November 12
    • 1918 December 2
    World War, 1914-1918--Public opinion
    • 1918 May 10
    World War, 1914-1918--War work
    • [n.d. 2]
    • [n.d. 4]
    World War, 1914-1918--War Work--Christian Science
    • 1918 October 13
    • 1918 December 2
    World War, 1914-1918--War work--Washington, D. C.
    • 1918 April 13
    World War, 1914-1918--War work--Young Men's Christian associations
    • 1918 September 28
    • 1918 October 13
    • 1918 November 9
    Young, Alvah W.
    • 1919 January 31
    Young Men's Christian associations
    • [n.d. 7]
    Young Women's Christian associations
    • 1918 December 10
    • 1919 February 28