One day a huge box of photo albums from my mother arrived and inside one of the albums was dozens of old letters, after I looked through them more closely I noticed that those very old letters were those that my grandfather sent to my grandmother during WWII. I did not know these existed, I was very happy to have them in my possession, I was delighted.
My mother found those letters when my grandparents moved into their last home. They were left as trash in a garage on a dirt floor in the early 1960’s. When my mother found them, she saved and kept those with her for years until she retired to Florida, then she sent them to me. I had requested my mother to mail me all the pictures in her home so I could put them on Ancestry.com and save them forever.
Those WWII letters have been traveling around for many years; some came from South Carolina, where my grandfather, John Walker III had taken Basic Training. Many mailed from places my grandfather was stationed, England, Germany, France and Holland.
Those letters were fragile and some written on stationery that was very thin, stationery normally used for patterns, other stationery was as thick as construction paper. Some of the stationery was regular lines writing paper; stationery from Camp Croft or the Red Cross, there was also plain unlined paper and V-mail.
Some of the letters were curled and wrinkled so much that I had to iron many just so I could read them. Few of the letters were held together at the top with scotch tape, to keep all the pages together, and the tape was yellow as the telephone book called, “Yellow Book” it had stained the stationery. Those were not the only stains; it looked like there were other embedded stains from however long those letters had been sitting out there in the dank dark garage.
In spite of the fading and wear and tear and the fragility of the letters, I was still able to transcribe them. I did my best. I put them in order year by year , then month by month. The pages of the letters had been mixed up and it was my job to figure out which ones went where. I went through them and matched them up according to the similar paper, ink color, or pencil, (or folds, rips and tears that matched up in each piece of similar stationery, and style of writing).
I noticed the style of writing was different with a few of the letters. Some of the letters had darker ink, or I would notice the writing was sloppy, or that my grandfather had pressed down hard on some of the stationery when he was writing. I noticed that his neatest written stationery was the last one where he was coming home. It was one sheet with neat cursive writing.
My next step was to preserve the letters by scanning them individually by date and post them on my Grandfathers page at my Ancestry.com account. When that was finished I had to do some re-adjusting to make sure I did cropping if necessary. Some of them I had to turn sideways and scan because the letters were larger.
So I did the letter in two parts by scanning the top and bottom half separate. I did manage to scan a few large ones instead of turning them sideways. That was a plus. After I scanned the letters in I transcribed each one and saved them on my Grandfather’s Ancestry site.
I contacted the library of Congress via E-mail after all my preservation had been completed. I asked them if they would take them and put them on the Veterans History Project that I created for my grandfather and they were interested. That late summer I packed them up and shipped them off by United Postal Service to their final destination on May of 2009.