Guide to the James Burt Jones Jr. Papers, 1893-1922


James Burt Jones was originally from Batavia, N.Y., and served as a paymaster in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Collection consists largely of letters from women addressed to Jones during his service in World War I. Also includes a small amount of correspondence from his family and male friends, as well as a variety of photographs, invitations, and other printed material.

Collection Details

Collection Number
James Burt Jones Jr. papers
Jones, James Burt
0.8 Linear Feet, 600 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

The James Burt Jones Jr. Papers contain correspondence addressed to Jones, who is referred to alternatively as James, Jim, Burt, and occasionally Dave. The letters date from 1906-1919, with the majority of the letters dated to 1918. The folders are arranged chronologically by month and year.

Jones, who was originally from Batavia N.Y., was a paymaster in the U.S. Navy during World War I and the letters are addressed to him while he was stationed at various locations including New York City, Washington D.C., Akron N.Y., and Erie P.A. Several letters date from his time in Ann Arbor, where he was a student at the University of Michigan. Some of the correspondence is from Jones's family and male friends, but it is primarily written by female correspondents located in Rochester N.Y., Ann Arbor, Detroit, Brooklyn, Chicago, Erie, and Buffalo N.Y. Many of these letters are from a woman named Florence, who alternatively signs as "Happy" or "Bee," a kindergarten teacher with whom Jones was romantically involved. Other letters are written by a woman named Esther, who was Jones's classmate at University of Michigan, and who provides numerous insights into the lives of female university students.

These letters express the correspondents' sorrow at Jones's departure, wishes for his safe return, questions and fears about the war, and inquiries as to his exact whereabouts and intentions. They also provide interesting insights into the politics and culture of the United States in the early twentieth century. Letters refer to the Temperance Movement (April 17, 1918), Women's Suffrage (April 17, 1918, among others), the Armistice (November 12, 1918), German-American families with sons fighting on both sides of the war (April 28, 1917), as well as to current films and other popular topics. One letter, from Jones Jr.'s father to his mother, dates from 1898. The collection also contains several photographs of the correspondents and various printed invitations to parties and dances.

The collection includes one folder of postcards, letters, birth announcements, and other small cards addressed to various other individuals apparently unrelated to Jones, many of whom are located in Batavia N.Y. This correspondence dates from approximately 1893 to 1922. Several of these letters are written by children in Los Angeles to their grandmother in N.Y.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], James Burt Jones Jr. Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1893-1918 July and undated
(17 folders)
Box 1
Correspondence, 1918 August-1919
(5 folders)
Box 2
Letters to individuals other than James Burt Jones Jr.
Box 2

Historical Note

James Burt Jones Jr. was a paymaster in the U.S. Navy from approximately 1914 through the end of World War I. Jones was originally from Batavia N.Y. and attended University of Michigan for a period. During his time in the Navy, Jones rose to the rank of Lieutenant and was stationed in various cities in the eastern part of the U.S., including New York City, Washington D.C., Akron N.Y., and Erie P.A. The exact dates of his overseas deployments are unclear from the correspondence.

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The James Burt Jones Jr. Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2003.

Processing Information

Processed by Elisabeth Narkin, October 2012

Encoded by Elisabeth Narkin, Meghan Lyon, October 2012

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2012-0189