Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 1337, Merritt Family
Correspondence, 1943 - 1945, 1.0 linear feet / 2 boxes
Call Number: MG 1337
World War II letters (January 1943 - November 1945) between Corporal Harold B. Merritt, 163rd Signal Photo Company, and his wife Marian of Hackensack, New Jersey. Collections contains 1,169 letters, all but one in "V-Mail" format.
Corporal Harold B. Merritt of Hackensack, New Jersey served overseas in the United States army during World War II from August 1943 to September 1945 as a member of the 163rd Signal Photo Company. During this time, he was stationed in Italy, France, and Germany. His wife, Marian, was a nurse who usually worked at night.
Letters between Harold and Marian Merritt were sent using Victory Mail ("V-Mail"), a mail service put into use by the U.S. Military on June 15, 1942. It was designed to minimize the amount of storage and shipping space required by the military when handling correspondence between servicemen and their families. To send V-Mail, the writer wrote his note on a standard-sized form letter. The letter was then reduced to thumbnail size on microfilm and sent in this format to a station near the recipient, whereupon a facsimile of the letter was reproduced and delivered to the recipient at one quarter of its original size.
Smithsonian Institution. http://www.si.edu/postal/learnmore/vmail.html/
The letters were purchased on March 30, 1993.
This collection consists of 1,169 V-Mail letters written between Harold B. Merrit and his wife, Marian, from January 1943 to September 1945. Marian wrote 827 letters and Harold wrote 342.
In his letters to his wife, Harold Merritt writes mostly about family-related issues, frequently inquiring about the well-being of various friends and family members and expressing his love for Marian. In addition, he writes frequently of the weather and scenery in the areas in which he is stationed. In order to give his wife an idea of camp life during the war, Harold also writes occasionally about his daily activities and meals with the army.
In Marian’s letters to Harold, written, with few exceptions, on a daily basis, she describes her daily activities at the hospital and at home, discussing, at various points, relationships with patients, friends and relatives she has visited, movies she has seen, and, in September 1943, her desire to join the Army Nurse Corps. Marian also writes frequently of her difficulty sleeping and her profound longing to see Harold again.
The letters conclude with Harold Merritt's return to the United States in late September, 1945.
Processed by Scott Dixler, July 2001
The New Jersey Historical Society