Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Broom mss., 1940-1957, consist primarily of the correspondence of John Joseph Willard, "Bill," Broom, 1917-2000, and his parents, Ida J. Broom and John J.W. Broom, Sr., during Bill Broom's World War II military service. There are also a substantial number of letters, 1944-1945, from his future wife, Dolly May Gantz, as well as from other family members, hometown friends, and college acquaintances throughout the collection.

Broom attended Indiana University in the late 1930s, earning his Bachelor of Public School Music in 1939. He then began graduate work in music but joined the armed forces in 1942 before completing the masters program. Between 1942 and 1945 Broom served in the Army Air Force (later Air Force) Band stateside at Gunter Field, near Montgomery, Alabama. Letters from Broom in early 1945 are from various cities in Ohio where he was on tour with "Here's Your Infantry," a show that demonstrated military maneuvers. In the latter part of that year the letters are from Louisville, Kentucky where his band was stationed at Nichols General Hospital. Broom left the service in February 1946.

After the war, Broom returned to Indiana University to complete his Masters of Music in 1948. He then returned to Fort Wayne and served in the Fort Wayne Community Schools for until his retirement as music director in 1984. He also conducted various community bands in the Fort Wayne area and was an active member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 58. Broom died in New Haven, Indiana, September 21, 2000.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence with parents; II. Letters from Dolly May (Gantz) Broom; III. General correspondence; IV. Photographs; V. Clippings; VI. Printed. An inventory is available.

Most of letters to Broom describe relatively mundane events: weather, news about other relatives, laundry, and local events or happenings made up the majority of topics discussed. Rarely was there any mention of the war except in relaying information about someone entering the service, though one particular letter was written on the back of a newspaper flyer that announced the surrender of Japan. Included with many of the letters sent to Broom by his parents and Dolly May were newspaper clippings from Fort Wayne area newspapers and publications describing local news and activities. Because of the sheer number of these clippings and because of the already advanced acid migration from the newspaper to the letters in which enclosed, they have been filed separately in the collection.

Broom's correspondence and materials during his undergraduate years at Indiana University are located in the Indiana University Archives.

Purchase. 2002

Collection size: 400 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.