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John Alexander World War I correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0614
John Gurnels Alexander was born March 8, 1888 in Franklin county, Georgia. The collection consists of letters dating from 1909 to 1952 to and from family, friends, soldiers and businesses; as well as Army documents from the war period.

Dates

  • 1909-1952

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Extent

0.94 Cubic Feet (2 legal size document boxes)

Biographical / Historical

John Gurnels Alexander was born March 8, 1888 in Franklin county, Georgia. As a teenager he worked as a National Guard for Georgia and in 1906 attended college at the Georgia Tech., in Atlanta, but never graduated. From 1911 to 1917 Alexander worked as a clerk for different companies, among them the 'Southern Railroad System' and in 1917 joined the Army's first officers training camp. By April 1918, at 30 years of age, he was on his way to Europe as a Lieutenant and Intelligence Officer for World War I. He was stationed in France and Germany for six months, from where he wrote regularly to his sweetheart Alma Hood.

It is not clear when Alexander married Alma Hood (from Lutherville, Maryland), but in 1917 they were living in Atlanta and their son John "Hood" Alexander was born. When the war ended Alexander worked in Atlanta for a few years until 1922, when he enrolled as a law student at the University of Maryland College Park. In February 1927 Alma died of "illness" at Johns Hopkins hospital, Baltimore, after being sick for about a year. A newspaper clipping of her obituary is among the documents of this collection. Alexander continues to take care of their son, who, as a teenager, writes enthusiastically from Summer Camp "Dixie", in Colorado.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of letters dating from 1909 to 1952 to and from family, friends, soldiers and businesses; as well as Army documents from the war period. The majority of the letters in this collection were sent from John Alexander to his wife Alma Hood, while he was stationed in Germany and France from April to August 1918. Many of these letters are marked as "passed" by the army censorship, but Alexander still managed to describe his work as a Lieutenant and Intelligence Officer and tell some fascinating stories about the war: "Two Germans came over and surrendered the other day - just tired of the war".

He calls Alma his "dear darling little girl" and is constantly reassuring her that he will be fine and that the war is about to end: "I suspect to see the Germans make a desperate effort real soon, but the Allies will hold them". Even though the mail service was very uncertain - he even asked a surgeon to take a letter in an ambulance once - Alexander corresponded with his wife regularly, and asked her to keep his letters for later reference.

After the war, there are letters sent from Alexander's teenage son "Hood" every time he went away for summer camp from 1928 to 1932.

Arrangement and Description

This collection is organized cronologically, therefore the date expression is reflected in the file title.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased in February 2012.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Spring.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA