Benjamin A. Furman collection  1917-1919
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 119 letters, most of them written by 1st Lieutenant Benjamin A. Furman during his service as a United States Army surgeon in France and Germany between August 1917 and early 1919; 2 photographs; approximately 290 picture postcards that Furman collected during his time in Europe; and 2 printed items. Furman discussed his voyage to Europe, work at an evacuation hospital, encounters with wounded African American soldiers, and postwar travels.

The Benjamin A. Furman Letters to His Parents subseries contains 97 letters that Furman sent to John A. and Emma C. Furman of Newark, New Jersey, about his experiences in the United States Army between August 1917 and March 1919. His letters form the majority of a numbered series that originally contained at least 87 items, plus additional unnumbered letters and postcards. In his earliest letters, Furman described his voyage from the United States to Europe, which included a close encounter with a German submarine, and his experiences with the 407th Telegraph Battalion. In July 1918, he transferred to the 2nd Evacuation Hospital, where he regularly treated patients suffering from wounds acquired at the front lines. On one occasion, Furman copied a portion of a soldier's letter about injuries sustained from a grenade explosion (August 11, 1918). By October 1918, he reported increased admissions of soldiers with illnesses, which included numerous cases of the mumps and the Spanish influenza. Furman occasionally treated African American soldiers and repeatedly shared his admiration for their bravery and dedication. After the war, he witnessed the plight of released British prisoners of war (November 17, 1918) and discussed his travels in France, which included a visit to no man's land. Furman spent much of early 1919 in Germany, and described trips to Koblenz, Köln, and cities across France.

The Other Correspondence subseries (22 items) is comprised of similar outgoing letters from Furman to other acquaintances, such as his brother John, friends, and a Boy Scout Troop. Several friends wished Furman good luck in a photographic postcard postmarked February 1918; the image depicts a building at Princeton University, his alma mater. Furman received a small number of other letters from friends in the United States during the war.

Two Photographs include a cabinet card portrait of Leon Unger, an American physician who also served in the war, and a snapshot photograph, which apparently depicts Benjamin Furman with his motorized ambulance and driver.

The Printed Ephemera and Map series contains an advertisement for the Hotel Atlantic & Annexe in Nice, France, and a map of the city of Nice.

Throughout his time in Europe, Benjamin A. Furman collected around 290 Picture Postcards of buildings and scenery in France and western Germany. He organized most of the postcards by place or region, and added brief notes.

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