The Harley and Laurence Benedict papers consist of letters written by Harley and Laurence Benedict to their mother, grandparents, and sister in Ohio during the brothers' overseas service in the First World War. In his first letter, dated September 23, 1917, Harley M. Benedict discussed his recent journey to Camp Sheridan, Alabama, and described the camp and the town surrounding it; he also noted the demographic composition of the town, roughly evenly split between African Americans and whites. Most of the letters date from 1918, and include correspondence addressed to their mother, Mrs. Frank L. Benedict (Bessie), and maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. F. P. McVey. Laurence also wrote one late letter to their sister, Marjory (November 27, 1918). Throughout his time in France, Harley discussed camp life, the army's rapid progress across France and into Belgium, and the hazards of fighting. On July 17, 1918, he mentioned seeing an airborne fight, and in several other letters reported German bombing raids and booby traps. At the end of the war, Harley was in Belgium, and looked forward to returning to the United States.
Laurence Benedict spent several months training at Camp John Dick, near Dallas, Texas, and traveled to Breton, France, by September 1918. There, he spent much time "loafing," though he did fly; on one flight near the end of the war, he sustained a minor injury, though he was reluctant to report it to his mother. Unlike his brother, who often described combat, Laurence focused primarily on his leisure time, though he did mention his unit's casualties (October 31, 1918). His late letters are chiefly concerned with his return home, expedited by his injury, which rendered him unable to fly. In addition to her sons' correspondence, Bessie Benedict also received a letter from Russell H. Walter of the 166th United States Infantry, a family friend, who reported that his unit was "busy rehearsing going 'Over the Top'" (May 15, 1918). The collection also includes two postcards of United States soldiers; one is a photograph, and the other a painting.