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William Richardson collection


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

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.

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."

Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Gift of Leila Richardson Little, 1985.

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

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 March 1
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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,

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Includes a letter written by a family friend to Bill Richardson's aunt concerning his father's death

1941 Nov-Dec.
Box 1 Folder F2
1942 Jan-Jun.
Box 1 Folder F3
1942 Jul-Aug.
Box 1 Folder F4
1942 Sep-Dec.
Box 1 Folder F5
1943 Jan-Apr.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Includes one photograph and one French newspaper clipping

1943 May-Jun.
Box 1 Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Includes two telegrams and one cablegram

1943 Jul.
Box 1 Folder F8
1943 Aug.
Box 1 Folder F9
1943 Sep.
Box 1 Folder F10
Scope and Contents

Includes a Nazi swastika patch from the tunic of a German aviator

1943 Oct.
Box 2 Folder F11
1943 Nov - 1944 Jan.
Box 2 Folder F12

Includes a 1933 photograph taken of Richardson's mother, Leila (Richardson) Little, and photograph taken by Richardson while on duty in North Africa in 1943.
Box 2 Folder F13
Includes negatives to the North Africa pictures.
Box 2 Folder F14

Richardson's immunization register.
Box 2 Folder F15
Officer's assignment roster, 1942.
Box 2 Folder F15
Army memo to all officers, 1942.
Box 2 Folder F15
Officer's pay data card, 1943.
Box 2 Folder F15
Officer's pay data card, leave pass, 1943.
Box 2 Folder F15
Ration card.
Box 2 Folder F15
Richardson's service record.
Box 2 Folder F15
Mrs. Leila Little's 1945 Red Cross certificate.
Box 2 Folder F15
Richardson's dog tags.
Box 2 Folder F16
Five franc bill.
Box 2 Folder F16
Ten World War II postage stamps.
Box 2 Folder F16
Card designating Richardson's stateroom and lifeboat number on the U.S.S. General.
Box 2 Folder F16
Window service card used by Richardson's mother, 1941-1944.
Box 2 Folder F16
Richardson's newspaper photo.
Box 2 Folder F16
Lyrics to two songs.
Box 2 Folder F16
Includes a 1944 booklet regarding World War II and a 1947 American Legion booklet.
Box 2 Folder F17
Includes article excerpts and clippings from local Delaware newspapers, mostly from 1943.
Box 2 Folder F18

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