A collection of approximately 280 holographic letters written by friends and family of a young man attending the University of Michigan. Willis Boyd Hayes, Jr. (1899–1983) was an engineering student and member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Although his studies were interrupted by World War I, he completed his courses and graduated in 1922. Hayes' father, a 1890 graduate of the University of Michigan, was a Major in the U.S. Army during World War I. Also named Willis B. Hayes (1869–1937), he had served as the superintendent of construction for U.S. buildings and government engineer in charge of the construction of U.S. post offices in the Midwest. Hayes Sr. writes to his son on July 11, 1918 about a typical day at his military camp in Virginia, where he was assigned a horse and training men for battle: "Camp Humphrey, as you probably know, is the training camp for engineer troops and is situated on the Potomac about 20 miles from Washington. The ground was covered with trees, which have been cleared off to make room for buildings. I think I will like it here although I would have preferred construction work rather than training troops, but I will do my best here and leave the results to Washington to decide." During the war, his father wrote several letters to him, mostly concerning his wish that the young man stay in school and what should be done if the draft age is lowered and he is called to serve. Hayes Jr.’s mother and sister also write to him regularly. He often sends home laundry and his mother returns it cleaned, pressed, and repaired along with cakes, money, and other treats. She also sends letters of support, despite the apparent difficult financial times the family is feeling related to some sort of dispute his father is having with the government concerning payment. On March 5, 1919, his mother references the difficulties in positive terms. "Just a wee bit more scraping and will come out on top," she wrote. "Next year is going to be much easier on you financially dear than this one. Even though you may have somewhat heavier expenses do cheer up and scrape along any say I can this year and remember always I am bigger than any problem that confronts me." Along with letters from his family, Hayes receives numerous letters from friends – many of them female, perhaps accounting for the reference made by one friend to "Hayes’ harem". "I am now on what is know as gunnery island," his friend Bud Sherrick wrote in a letter dated February 25, 1919. "It is an immense sand pile about eight miles from the air station. There isn’t a tree or bush anywhere to be seen on the island and only a few miserable weeds to relieve the eye from the stretches of white sand." A small group of letters written in the 1950s from a young boy by the name of Bill Hayes of Arkansas and Greely, Colorado. There is no information in the archive or available through cursory ancestry research to indicate that Willis had a son. Most of the letters are contained in their original mailing envelopes in very good condition. Item #71695

Price: $200.00

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