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David W. Davies Correspondence
mssDavies correspondence  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: David W. Davies Correspondence
    Dates: 1919-1983
    Bulk dates: 1938-1945
    Collection Call Number: mssDavies correspondence
    Creator: Davies, David W., 1908-1984
    Extent: 14 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection primarily contains personal correspondence sent by David William Davies (1908-1984) to his wife, Thelma Davies, while working as a librarian and serving in the United States Army Corps during World War II.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], David W. Davies Correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was a gift from Suzanne L. Dibbler, December 30, 2013.


    David William Davies was born in 1908. He held three PhDs, (history, library science, and education). Before arriving at the Claremont Colleges as the first Head Librarian at Honnold Library, Davies was the former assistant librarian in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. In August 1941 he was appointed as librarian at Utah State University, College of Agriculture.
    On May 21, 1943, Davies joined the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Initially he was assigned as librarian at a technical library; however, the library closed on September 30, 1943. He was reassigned to a technical school at Chanute Field, Illinois for cryptography and graduated on October 23, 1943 as a cryptographer.
    During his time in the Army, Davies was selected as the enlisted man in charge of the cryptographic section of a signal center. While overseas, he was stationed in England, France, and Germany. Davies accepted the position as Director of Libraries at the University of Vermont in September 1946. In 1948 Davies became the librarian at Claremont and director of the joint library activities of the four colleges. He passed away in 1984.

    Scope and Content

    The majority of the collection consists of personal letters sent by David William Davies to his wife, Thelma Davies, while working as a librarian and serving in the United States Army Corps during World War II from 1941 through 1947. Most of the letters were sent while Davies was serving in the military, which included his cryptographic preparation at Chanute Field Air Force Base, work at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and his deployment in Europe. The correspondence begins in December 1938 when Davies was an assistant librarian in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Much of the correspondence during this time concerns his wife's health; she was in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Altadena, California. Other common topics include work in the library, social life, and a project renovating a house. In August 1941 the correspondence begins in Logan, Utah where Davies was appointed as librarian at Utah State University, College of Agriculture. As an ambitious librarian, Davies "... made several proposals to the President and the Dean of Education for improving the curriculum in library science, but they do not want to do anything. Well if they do not want to do anything I guess it is all right on account it is their college" (August 21, 1941).
    Davies was accepted for active military service on May 21, 1943. He was inducted at San Francisco Army Induction Station #2 and his reception center was in Monterey, California. After Monterey he moved to Kearns, Utah to a "rugged camp" where he "have never seen a such a bunch of hard guys" (May 31, 1943). The bulk of the correspondence during this time is related to military life and training. In regards to military life, Davies states, "This life is so easy it is hard to believe. No work tomorrow either - I shall read another book" (June 21, 1943).
    Before being assigned to a training school, Davies was appointed as a librarian at the Intelligence Technical Information Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. He complains, "Well the worst has happened but I guess I will not commit suicide. Tomorrow I have to report to Post Intelligence to start their goddamn technical library" (June 27, 1943). Fortunately for Davies, the technical library closed on September 30, 1943 to become a basic training center.
    In September 1943 Davies trained to become a cryptographer at Chanute Field Air Force Base in Chicago, Illinois. In November 1943 he was stationed for work at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Davies describes in one letter, "I am actually enjoying this bloody camp. Its informality is very appealing. We wear what we please and lead an easy life - comparatively" (September 15, 1943). Similar to his camp experience in Kearns, Utah, military life and training is a common topic during this time.
    Davies deployed to Europe in January 1944 and arrived in England later that month. He later was stationed in France and Germany. Although Davies was not on the front lines, he did meet locals with their own stories about the war. "Last night I met a Pole who was in the Warsaw revolution. He says that there were 100,000 Poles in that revolution and that 88,000 were killed. He said the remaining 12,000 were taken prisoner and spent the rest of the time in concentration camps" (May 17, 1945). The bulk of the letters during this time describe military and social life among the Europeans. The United States Army censored some of the letters by cutting out certain words and sentences throughout the correspondence.
    This collection also includes correspondence and manuscript drafts related to Davies' book Clyde Browne and the Abbey Press, Scott E. Haselton and his Abbey Garden Press, and Ralph Lloyd and the Lloyd Corporation. Ephemera (organized by genre) include brochures, pamphlets, drafts of catalog cards, invitations, programs, photographs, medals, periodicals, and a print from the United States of America Panama-Pacific International Exposition San Francisco.


    The collection is arranged alphabetically. There are a number of letters that appear to be dated incorrectly; they are arranged according to the cataloger's best judgment.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Brown, Charles Harvey, 1875-1960.
    Browne, Clyde, 1872-1942.
    Davies, David W., 1908-1984.
    Franklin, Sidney, 1903-1976.
    Haselton, Scott E. (Scott Edson), 1895-1991.
    Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 -- Appreciation.
    Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 -- Characters.

    Corporate Names

    Abbey Garden Press (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
    American Legion.
    Bancroft Library.
    United States. Army -- African American troops -- Social conditions -- 20th century -- Sources.
    United States. Army -- Military life -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    University of California, Berkeley.
    Utah State University. College of Agriculture.


    Collection development (Libraries)
    Forced labor.
    Librarians -- Attitudes.
    Librarians -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Correspondence -- Sources.
    Military libraries -- United States.
    Science and technology libraries.
    Soldiers -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Correspondence -- Sources.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, African American.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Public opinion.

    Geographic Areas

    Berkeley (Calif.) -- Social life and customs.
    Chanute Field (Ill.)
    Fort Knox (Ky.)
    France -- Description and travel.
    France -- Social life and customs.
    Kearns (Utah) -- Social life and customs.
    Warsaw (Poland) -- History -- Uprising, 1944.


    Correspondence United States 20th century.
    Manuscripts United States 20th century.
    Negatives United States 20th century.
    Personal correspondence United States 20th century.
    Photographs United States 20th century.