Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Stephen D. Brown Diaries, 1917-1919

Finding aid created by
Richard C. Bates, January 2007, and Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: Stephen D. Brown diaries
Creator: Brown, Stephen D., 1892-1980
Inclusive dates: 1917-1919
Extent: 4 volumes
The Stephen D. Brown diaries (approximately 2,000 pages) pertain to the Pennsylvania soldier's service in the United States Army during the First World War. Daily entries are reconstructed from Brown's letters, notes, and ephemera, and cover his entire time in the army.
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:

2006. M-4533.

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:

Stephen D. Brown Diaries, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Stephen D. Brown was born in Washington, D.C., on August 20, 1892, but spent most of his early life in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, where he attended engineering school. On July 13, 1917, he enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was denied officer training because of his poor eyesight and became a member of the 103rd Engineer Regiment, Company E. Brown trained in Philadelphia and at Camp Hancock, Georgia, and served in France from May 1918-July 1919. After the war, he returned to Lansdowne, where he married and worked as a chemical engineer. Brown died in Glen Riddle Lima, Pennsylvania, in December 1980.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Stephen D. Brown diaries (4 volumes; approximately 2,000 pages) pertain to the Pennsylvania soldier's service in the United States Army during the First World War. Daily entries are reconstructed from Brown's letters, notes, and ephemera, and cover his entire time in the army, from his enlistment in the Pennsylvania National Guard (July 13, 1917) to his return from France (July 1919).

Volume 1 (July 13, 1917-June 26, 1918) includes stories of camp life and of Brown's training at the Philadelphia Armory and Camp Hancock, Georgia. While in camp, he wrote of both military and non-military experiences and frequently expressed his opinions about the army. In the spring of 1918, Brown's unit embarked for Europe, where they continued to train prior to approaching the front lines.

Volume 2 (June 27-November 10, 1918) chronicles Brown's experiences near the front. Though he never participated in direct combat, he was subjected to heavy artillery fire and occasional gas attacks and took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of September-November 1918. Brown detailed various aspects of military life and front-line warfare, such as shells passing overhead and the presence of vermin in captured German trenches.

Volume 3 (November 11, 1918-April 2, 1919) and Volume 4 (April 9-July 31, 1919) cover Brown's final months of military service, which he spent taking classes at the University of Toulouse (covered more thoroughly in Volume 4). On July 1, 1918, he left for the United States, and he reached Philadelphia on July 26, 1919.

Subject Terms

    • Argonne, Battle of the, France, 1918.
    • Camp Hancock (Ga.)
    • France--Description and travel.
    • United States. Army. Engineer Regiment, 103rd.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • Université de Toulouse.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--France.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Trench warfare.
    Subjects - visual Materials:
    • Brown, Stephen D., 1892-1980.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--France.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Ephemera.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Snapshots.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Stephen D. Brown diaries [series]
    Volume   1  
    Stephen D. Brown diary,  July 13, 1917-June 26, 1918
    Volume   2  
    Stephen D. Brown diary,  June 27, 1918-November 10, 1918
    Volume   3  
    Stephen D. Brown diary,  November 11, 1918-April 3, 1919
    Volume   4  
    Stephen D. Brown diary,  April 9, 1919-July 26, 1919
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Schopieray, Cheney J. "Horrible, Sublime, and Trivial Events: the World War I Diaries of Stephen Douglas Brown." An Americana Sampler: Essays on Selections from the William L. Clements Library. Brian Leigh Dunnigan and J. Kevin Graffagnino, eds. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan, 2011.