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Guide to the Kindred Avin Ritchie Papers, 1939-1977 and undated, bulk 1943-1945

Abstract

Papers of Kindred Avin Ritchie, a sergeant in the US Army Postal Regulating Section in Europe during World War II.

The Kindred Avin Ritchie Papers span the years 1939 to 1977, with the bulk of the collection dated between 1943 and 1945. The papers are primarily comprised of correspondence, particularly between Kindred Avin (K.A.) Ritchie and his wife, Sara Meda Henderson (S.M.) Ritchie, while he was serving in the U.S. Army Postal Service during World War II in various locations in the United States and Europe, primarily in France and England. Smaller amounts of materials also were sent from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Exchanges between K.A. and S.M. Ritchie include candid comments about marriage and sexuality, and references to Army censorship and the scarcity of goods on both sides of the Atlantic. Correspondence from S.M. Ritchie and other family and friends, including K.A. Ritchie's mother Mittie Hahn (M.H.) Ritchie, give a sense of some of the ways in which the war affected those at home. Photographs, programs and playbills, Nazi memorabilia, and other ephemera are included with much of the correspondence.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Kindred Avin Ritchie papers, 1939-1977 and undated, bulk 1943-1975
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Ritchie, Kindred Avin
Language of Material
English
Extent
4.7 Linear Feet, 2642 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Kindred Avin Ritchie Papers span the years 1939 to 1977, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1943 and 1945, and are organized into the Correspondence, Ephemera, Legal, Medical, and Financial Papers, and Photographic Materials Series. The papers are primarily comprised of correspondence, particularly between Kindred Avin (K.A.) Ritchie and his wife, Sara Meda Henderson (S.M.) Ritchie while he was serving the U.S. Army in various locations in the United States and Europe. Playbills and programs, photographs, Nazi memorabilia, and other ephemera are included with much of the correspondence. Additional materials sent to K.A. Ritchie by his mother Mittie Hahn (M.H.) Ritchie and other family and friends make up the rest of the correspondence. Small amounts of financial, legal, and medical papers, photographic material, and miscellaneous ephemera complete the collection. The volume and frequency of correspondence between Kindred Ritchie and Sara Ritchie provide an unusually full portrait of the perspectives and concerns of a married couple separated during wartime. Correspondence from K.A. Ritchie chronicles his leisure activities as well as his encounters with local non-military personnel primarily in England and France, but also in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Due to military censorship, K.A. Ritchie's letters do not include many direct details about the fighting in Europe. Exchanges between K.A. and S.M. Ritchie include candid comments about marriage and sexuality, and references to Army censorship and the scarcity of goods on both sides of the Atlantic. Correspondence from S.M. Ritchie and other family and friends give a sense of some of the ways in which the war affected those at home.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Arranged in four subgroupings: correspondence between Kindred Avin (K.A.) Ritchie and Sara Meda (S.M.) Ritchie; from Mittie Hahn (M.H.) Ritchie to K.A. Ritchie; from family and friends to K.A. Ritchie; and from family and friends to S.M. Ritchie. With the exception of a few letters between K.A. and S.M. Ritchie from 1939-1941 before his enlistment, this series spans the term of K.A. Ritchie's involvement in the 20th Postal Regulating Section of the US Army, beginning with training at Camp Lee in Virginia through his journey home from Germany after the cessation of hostilities in late 1945. At the time of his discharge in 1945 he had attained the rank of Sergeant. In the first subseries, K.A. Ritchie writes to his wife from posts in Newport News, VA; West Chester, PA; Cheltenham, United Kingdom; undisclosed locations in France and the Netherlands; Gutersloh, Germany; and Antwerp, Belgium. His letters cover day-to-day operations and recreational activities as well as oblique or vague references to conditions in the European Theater of Operations. Sexuality, homesickness, boredom, and censorship are common themes in Ritchie's correspondence with his wife. S.M. Ritchie's letters to her husband chronicle her day-to-day activities in Washington DC and include details on her friendships with her coworkers at the Infantry Journal. The interval between letters from Europe and the desire to be reunited with her husband frequently appear in her letters, as do discussions of civilian rationing and family news. Letters from K.A. Ritchie's mother, Mittie Hahn Ritchie, comprise a second subseries. These letters detail family news from Mt. Pleasant, NC and frequently include clippings from the local Concord Tribune newspaper. Correspondence from family and friends in subseries to K.A. and S.M. Ritchie detail relevant news from the senders, most of whom are mutual friends in the Washington DC area or family from North Carolina. All correspondence is arranged chronologically by date.

1939 Dec. 20-1943 Dec. 4
Box 1
1943 Dec. 8-1944 June 15
Box 2
1944 June 15-Dec. 24
Box 3
1944 Dec. 24-1945 Apr. 21
Box 4
1945 Apr. 22-Aug. 30
Box 5
1945 Aug. 31-Dec. 9 and undated
Box 6
1943 June 9-1945 Nov. 12 and undated
Box 6
1943 June 30-1944 Sept. 6
Box 6
1944 Sept. 11-1945 Oct. 24 and undated
Box 7
1943 Nov. 6-1945 July 15
Box 7

Primarily consists of postcards collected during K.A. Ritchie's travels. The bulk of these are from the greater New York area and Canada; however, postcards from Belgium and France are included as well. In addition to the postcards, other items housed in this series include playbills and ticket stubs, K.A. Ritchie's Army pay record, note cards, and materials relating to the money order K.A. Ritchie sent from France shortly after D-Day. Arranged in original order as received.

Ephemera, 1943-1945 and undated
(3 folders)
Box 7

Consists mainly of papers related to K.A. Ritchie's medical claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also included are a copy of K.A. Ritchie's birth certificate, his Army discharge papers, insurance and financial planning papers, and a commendation from the US Postal Service.

Consists of negative images of K.A. Ritchie on various off-base leisure trips in Europe. No prints currently exist, but may be requested. Negatives are closed to use by researchers.

Stars and Stripes newspapers, 1944 July 4-1945 May 10
Box 8
The Torch newspaper, 1945 May
Box 8
Red Cross map of Paris, undated
Box 8
Small Dutch flag and Allied commemorative textile, undated
Box 8

Historical Note

DateEvent(s)
1916 Aug. 13Kindred Avin Ritchie born in Cabarrus County, NC
1921 Mar. 21Sara Meda Henderson born
1940 Aug. 9Kindred Avin Ritchie and Sara Meda Henderson married
1943 May 25K.A. Ritchie arrives at Camp Lee, VA
1943 Dec. 19Ritchie arrives in England
1944 June 12Ritchie arrives in France
1945 Mar. 13Ritchie writes from Germany
1945 Dec. 9Ritchie writes last letter from Europe in London
2002 Nov. 9K.A. Ritchie dies in Durham, NC

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kindred Avin Ritchie Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Kindred Avin Ritchie Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Christian Ferney, September 2007

Encoded by Christian Ferney, September 2007

Accession 2004-0087 is described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.