Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Bouslog mss., 1906-1919, consist primarily of letters from Wes Lee Bouslog, 1892-1959, to his girlfriend and future wife, Opal Valentine Baker, 1901-1966, of Sulphur Springs, Indiana. The collection begins with a folder of miscellaneous correspondence, dating 1906-1919, consisting of letters and postcards from various family and friends, including a few other servicemen, primarily to Opal. The letters from Wes begin in December 1917 after he enlisted in the U.S. Army, Clerical Department of the Quarter-Masters Supply Company. Following training at Camp Johnston, Jacksonville, Florida, Wes and his company moved to Camp Stuart at Newport News, Virginia. All of the letters are personal and patriotic in nature, conveying news about mutual friends who have also enlisted, describing his "bunk mates," commenting on the weather and activities in camp, and asking for news of those remaining at home. In a letter dated May 31, 1918, Wes tells Opal about hearing "Miss Margaret Wilson, our President's daughter, sing... in the Y here at Camp Stuart... The hour I listened to her has been the most pleasant one of my army life." In a letter dated June 1, 1918, he says he is recovering from a visit to the dentist to have teeth pulled, without a pain killer. Wes went to France in June 1918 as part of the American Expeditionary Force and sent his first letter, "Lundi June 24, 1918," from "somewhere in France." Most of his letters from this point are stamped as "O.K." or "passed" by the censor. They also begin to be sprinkled liberally with French phrases and sentences once he is overseas. He speaks often about the beautiful French countryside and about his health which is usually good, except in the letter dated Nov. 26, 1918, where he comments that he has recovered from the "Influenza" but that a number of "my very best chums of my company were victims of the Flu and now lie buried somewhere in France."

A few miscellaneous items, including a photograph of Wes with his tent mates in 1919, and some picture postcards, complete the collection.

Purchase. 2007

Collection size: 97 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.