Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Harley and Laurence Benedict Correspondence, 1917-1919

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: Harley and Laurence Benedict correspondence
Creator: Benedict, Bessie McVey
Inclusive dates: 1917-1919
Bulk dates: 1918
Extent: 42 items
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.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2005. M-4507.11.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Harley and Laurence Benedict Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Frank L. and Bessie McVey Benedict of Delaware, Ohio, had several children; their two sons, Harley and Laurence, served with the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War. After training at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, Harley served in France with the 147th Field Hospital and 112th Sanitary Train. Laurence trained at the US School of Military Aeronautics in Columbus, Ohio, and Camp John Dick, Texas. In July 1918, he became 2nd lieutenant in the Air Service. He served in France from August 1918 to January 1919. Their sister, Marjory, remained in Ohio with their parents. Their maternal grandparents, the McVeys, lived in Sunbury, Ohio.

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    • France--History--1914-1940.
    • United States. Army. Air Service.
    • United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces.
    • United States. Army. Field Hospital, 147th.
    • United States. Army. Sanitary Train, 112th.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--France.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Soldiers.
    • Benedict, Harley M.
    • Benedict, Laurence McVey, b. ca. 1896.
    • Walter, Russell H.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Postcards.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   6, World War I Small Collections  
    Harley and Laurence Benedict correspondence [series]
    Folders   15-22  
     September 23, 1917-February 14, 1919