This collection is comprised of letters to and between Harold K. Phillips and his wife, Betty Austin. Phillips, a native of Kansas, served on the USS Antares in the years before World War II. The majority of letters dated 1938-1939 are letters to Harold and Betty from friends and family members in Kansas, Missouri, and Montana; the majority of letters dated 1940-1941 are letters from Harold K. Phillips to Betty Austin Phillips.
The first letter is dated April 18, 1938, around the time of Harold Phillips's enlistment in the United States Navy. At that time, Betty Austin lived in Kansas City, Missouri, where she received letters from friends and from her mother in La Harpe, Kansas. Friends and family members continued to write to Betty after she moved to Long Beach, California, in the summer of 1938. During his naval training, Harold received letters from his father in Spivey, Kansas, and his mother in Topeka, Kansas, as well as from his brother Bill in Great Falls, Montana, and from a girlfriend, Ethel Wardien, also in Great Falls. Harold (sometimes addressed as "Phil" or "Phill") and Betty began to write each other in August 1938, having been introduced by Harold's cousin Vivian. Harold continued to receive letters from Ethel Wardien; one of her letters contains a colored ink drawing of a sailor in uniform (June 1, 1939).
Following their marriage in October 1938, Harold and Betty received letters from family and acquaintances expressing congratulations and surprise. Harold occasionally wrote to Betty about life on the USS Antares while stationed at San Pedro, California; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and Mare Island, California. In 1940-1941, Harold wrote to Betty from the Antares , which was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The final letter, written to Betty from her mother, concerns the possibility of Betty moving to Kansas following "hard luck" (August 15, 1942). The collection also includes a birthday card; a printed document about the United States Naval Training Station in San Diego, California; and a pornographic poem by an Antares sailor entitled "A song of ABC's."