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William Richardson collection

Identifier: MSS 0158

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists mainly of correspondence circulating between William Richardson and his mother, brother, step-father, friends and other relatives while he was serving in the military in World War II. Also included are photographs, telegrams, postcards, realia from the war, newspaper clippings, articles and pamphlets. Material in the collection is perhaps most important for its firsthand account of significant events and places of World War II.

Because the bulk dates of the collection span 1941 to 1943, the material corresponds with the mobilization of American troops towards Europe and the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Richardson's letters elucidate the feelings, fears, anxieties, loneliness and excitement of an enlisted man and those of his loved ones. In volume alone, this collection of letters attests to the importance Americans attached to correspondence during the war.

The collection is arranged into three series. Series I consists of correspondence exchanged between William Richardson, his family and friends. Many of these letters contain notations made by Richardson's mother in 1985 when the collection was donated to Special Collections. Series II consists of photographs, some taken by Richardson while in North Africa and a 1933 photo of Leila Richardson Little, his mother. Series III contains an array of realia from the lines and the homefront during the war, including leave passes, pay data cards, certificates, booklets, newspapers clippings, a window service card and a "dog tag."


  • Creation: 1919-1947
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1941-1943


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

William Richardson, who served in the U.S. military during World War II, was born on March 17, 1919, the second son of Orville and Leila Richardson.

Shortly after William was born, his father died in the flu epidemic of that same year. Sometime before 1936, Leila Richardson then married Orville Little. In 1937, William Richardson graduated from Newark High School, and in 1941 he received a B.A. from the University of Delaware where he was a member of ROTC.

In 1941, William Richardson entered into active military duty with the army as a first lieutenant. He was stationed at Fort Miles, Delaware; Fort Monroe, Virginia; and in New York until September 1942. At that time, he was transferred to England and then, until 1943, was stationed in North Africa and Sicily during the invasions of those areas. Through the course of his service with the military, he corresponded almost daily with his mother, friends, and family back in Newark. The bulk of this collection consists of these letters sent between 1941 and 1943. Richardson returned to the United States in December 1943 and was placed on inactive duty in March 1944. He died only four years later in 1948.

Biographical information derived from collection.


.6 linear foot (2 boxes)


This collection consists mainly of correspondence circulating between William Richardson (1919–1948) and his mother, brother, step-father, friends and other relatives while he was serving in the military during World War II.


Gift of Leila Richardson Little, 1985.

Shelving Summary

  • Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Processed by Kelly Baum, November 1993. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, June 2015, and Tiffany Saulter, November 2015.

Finding aid for William Richardson collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 1
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA