All Series Level Scope and Content Notes
The William Anderson papers contain correspondence written by Anderson while he served as a corporal in the United States Army during the Second World War. Of the 166 letters in the collection, the vast majority were composed by Anderson to his wife Esther, who remained in Kansas City, Kansas, throughout his wartime service. His letters reflect the daily life and leisure activities of a soldier on the home front throughout the war, and frequently make mention of dances and other leisure activities the soldier pursued during his time in the Army. Anderson, who signed himself "Gilman," began basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in December 1943, and spent the remainder of the war in Pennsylvania, at Camp Reynolds and Indiantown Gap. Though he attained the rank of corporal, he did not express particular enthusiasm for military service, and his letters focused on news of his friends and on incidents from camp life rather than the war. His letters also reveal that Esther suffered a fairly severe illness while he was away, and imply an occasionally tense relationship between the pair, possibly due to his fondness for dancing with local girls. The bulk of the collection covers Anderson's army service between December 1943 and April 1945, and additional material includes an early letter from a friend, Karl, who enlisted prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor (October 24, 1941), as well as two written by Esther to her husband in late 1945 and a handful of other correspondence addressed to the couple. Among the Anderson correspondence are a Christmas card (December 21, 1944), birthday card (December 21, 1944), and valentine (February 5, 1945), sent by him to his wife.