Letters from World War I

Establishing Peace

Establishing peace began with a ceasefire on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The resulting celebrations gave way to the long process of recovery. Service members looked forward to returning home and planning for the future, while diplomats began to negotiate treaties that redefined European borders.

Carl Saunders

Madame J. Armand, to Mrs. Saunders (mother of Corporal Carl Saunders), March 4, 1919. "It is a mother who is writing to you, a mother who has been with your dear child in his last days."

Peace treaty signing at Versailles, France, June 28, 1919

Lieutenant Adolf Berle, to his father, February 17, 1919. "With skill the situation might yet be saved."

American cemetery in France, 1919

Mr. W.C. Campbell, to Mrs. Justice Frick (mother of Sergeant Edwin G. Frick), April 30, 1919. "He passed to his reward with a consciousness of duty done, and with all that was mortal of him enshrouded in the stars and stripes"

Pvt. Charles Eggeling sitting on a short brick wall

Miss Irene Donnelly, to Private Charles Eggeling, November 7-10, 1918. "God Be Praised. The War is Over."

Sergeant Clyde Eoff

Sergeant Clyde Eoff, to his sister Josephine Eoff, April 28, 1919. "Even the joy of going home failed to make the parting a pleasant one."

Sergeant Clyde Eoff

Sergeant Clyde Eoff, to his sister Josephine Eoff, May 30, 1919
"Now you boys come on home live from hand to mouth and give us your vote."

Photograph of Pvt. Dwight Fee during World War I

Private Dwight Fee, to his son Private William Fee, October 1, 1944. "There will be many disagreeable experiences; soul-shaking experiences; tragic experiences; uplifting experiences."

Pvt. Morris E. Kramer holding a gun

Private Morris E. Kramer, to his father, November 24, 1918. "On the 11th of November at 11 A. M. the guns were to cease firing and all hostilities to stop. I did not believe it until 11 o'clock came."

US post office notice declaring suspension of mail for enemy nations, April 1917

Mr. Conrad Hoffmann Jr. (International YMCA), to his wife Louise, July 23, 1918
"I shall remain gladly for I realize that thereby I can be of real help to our countrymen who become prisoners of war here."

Refer to caption John Pershing with his wife and three of their children, 1909

Brigadier General John J. Pershing, to family friend Anne Boswell, October 5, 1915. "I am trying to work and keep from thinking; but Oh! The desolation of life . . . after such fullness as I have had."

French woman searching the remains of her destroyed house, 1919

Alfred Robinson (16th Infantry Regiment), to his mother, November 14, 1918. "The Allies are the victors, and the world is a garden of joy, but what has been the cost."

Louise Schroeder, US Army nurse

Nurse Louise Sophia Schroeder, to Ann, November 30, 1918. "When I read of what you are doing at home, I feel like we are the slackers."

Capt. Harry S. Truman

Captain Harry S. Truman, to his fiancée Bess Wallace, February 18, 1919. "General [Pershing] told me . . . that he wanted me to take [my troops] home as clean morally and physically as when they came over."

Refer to caption
General Pershing at an American cemetery in France, Memorial Day, 1919
Image credit: National Archives

My Fellow Soldiers