Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Edwin Freeman Papers, 1942-1945

Finding aid created by
Therese Austin, October 2007

Summary Information
Title: Edwin Freeman papers
Creator: Freeman, Edwin
Inclusive dates: 1942-1945
Extent: 35 items
This collection consists of letters written from Edwin Freeman to Prescott Barrows while serving in the United States Army in World War II. The letters are written from an army base in Greenville, Mississippi and from an army post in India.
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:

2007. M-4592.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Edwin Freeman Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Edwin Freeman was drafted into the army in 1942 and spent several months at an army training facility in Greenville, Mississippi preparing to be a flight mechanic. In 1945 he was posted to India (what is now Tezgaon, Bangladesh).

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection includes 26 letters written from Edwin Freeman to Prescott Barrows in 1942 from an army base in Greenville, Mississippi and an additional 9 letters written to Prescott Barrows from a posting in India in 1945. Many of the letters are written on illustrated army stationery.

The Greenville letters largely portray Freeman's dissatisfaction with army life. He describes the drills, several meals, constant homesickness, and the fact that he is ill-suited to military life. He talks of going on leave to Greenville, and includes racist remarks about the "colored girls" there, in addition to disparaging remarks about southerners in general. A pervasive theme throughout the letters is Freeman's love of classical music which forms a bond between the two men. He talks of composers and favorite classical pieces, and frequently details his efforts to hear classical music while on the base, even describing a fistfight he initiated when another man tried to turn off the radio during a classical program.

The India letters reiterate these themes, with the addition of local weather, more racist comments about the "black Indians," and a colorful description of a Hindu religious festival. Of particular interest is a letter dated 10 May 1945, in which Freeman writes of receiving news both of Germany's defeat and of Roosevelt's death, which causes widespread dismay. He has strong and racist feelings about the Japanese. In a letter of 28 July 1945, he mentions seeing film footage of a liberated Japanese concentration camp and his and the other men's rage at the state of the men and this evidence of "inhuman cruelty." On another occasion, he sees former Japanese POWs passing through on their way back to the States. Because of their condition, he feels the Japanese fully deserve the atomic bomb and other horrors besides.

Subject Terms

    • Dhaka (Bangladesh)
    • Greenville (Miss.)
    • Japanese--America--Social conditions.
    • Racism--United States--20th century
    • Soldiers--Mississippi--Correspondence.
    • Soldiers--United States--Attitudes.
    • Soldiers--United States--Correspondence.
    • United States--Armed forces--Military life.
    • United States. Army--Training and Doctrine Command.
    • World War, 1939-1945.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   13, World War II Small Collections  
    Edwin Freeman papers,  1942 April 14-1945 October 14 [series]
    Folders   26-29  
    Folders   30-32