The World War II Letters Project

May 5

World War II Letters

Archived Family Letters

This website is the culmination of 7 years of digging through basements, reading, scanning, archiving, and storing over 600 letters, photos and other memorabilia that members of my family had saved during 1941 to 1945. The result is 8 boxes of archived letters, carefully organized by family member and date written, as well as numerous boxes of old photographs, brochures and other souvenirs.

Little did I know that I would get sucked in to what is now referred to as “The Letters” project. It started with a call from my mother’s cousin telling her that he had an old shoebox full of family letters. The letters were written to my mother’s uncle Jerry and his son had kept them stored in that old shoe box in the garage for many years, and was now about to throw them out.  Thank goodness he called my mother’s cousin first, as many of the letters were written by his father Cliff and my grandmother Milly.

I was hooked from the moment I began to read the letters as they painted such a vivid picture of what life was like for an ordinary small town family during times of war.  I decided the letters should be digitized and archived in order that they could be preserved, but also so they could be shared with the rest of the family and anyone else who was interested.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will introduce each member of the Nelson family so you have an idea of who they were and the circumstances they lived under.  I don’t claim to be a World War II historian; there are countless other sources for details of the war, specific battles, and military strategy. This is simply a story, in their own words, of a family touched by war.

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  • Mary Ann Smith

    Is there  someone to contact about family letters from WWII?  Can they be donated.  My Dad was in Burma and we have many letters from Him to my Mother.  Contact me a zandma@msn.com

  • Kathiej113

    I am working on a similar project having found hundreds of letters my Dad wrote home during WWII.  It looks and sounds like you are much further along and much better organized than I am at this point.  I truly understand when you say you were hooked immediately!  I can immerse myself in 1939 very easily! I am interested in learning how you are preserving the letters?  I can be reached at kathiej113@gmail.com. Thanks!

  • Kathie Johnson

    I should have included the fact that my Father’s last name was Nelson also. He is from Chokio and Morris, MN.

  • Rjremick

    Hi, I also found letters my dad wrote home while serving in 1st Marine Div. I am grateful to know what others have learned about preserving the letters. Thanks. 

  • http://www.genealogylady.net Genealogy Lady

    Now that you are done with the project, what are you going to do with all the letters? Will you be donating them to one of the Veteran’s letters projects?

  • admin

    I am so excited you are beginning a similar project! Yes it is a lot of work but so rewarding! We will most likely donate the letters to the MN Historical Society at some point. They tell a nice story about a small town family at a time in MN history so we thought it fitting. How about you? Any plans when you are done with your project?

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