Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Harper, F. mss., 1976-1991, consist of materials relating to personal accounts of American World War I veterans collected by Frank Roderick Harper (b. 1963) while a graduate student in history at Indiana University. The collection includes advertisements for World War I veterans to complete surveys Harper designed and initial contact letters and phone messages. Twenty-eight veterans completed surveys or provided other substantial material. The survey was comprised of over twenty broad and open-ended questions, such as "What was your impression of the French?" "Describe your training," and "What did you like/dislike most about your experiences?" These questions resulted in answers from "not much" to several typed pages of stories and copies of articles from local papers or veterans publications about individual respondents. These persons served in many different capacities and in different geographic areas of the conflict. The character of the responses varies widely and much of it is based to some degree upon information the respondents learned from sources outside of their personal experiences. Some surveys were completed with the assistance of caregivers, as most of the veterans were in their 90s at the time of the survey. Due to this variation, the collection is not internally cohesive. Frank Harper did not complete a dissertation on this topic because the response numbers were inadequate and by the late 1980s WWI veterans were dying off at a rapid rate.

The collection also includes some clippings and copies of The Torch, a World War I veterans newspaper.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Advertisements; II. Correspondence and completed surveys; III. Miscellaneous correspondence related to the project; IV. The Torch and press clippings. An inventory is available.

An inventory is available.

Gift. 2005

Collection size: 95 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.