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Butler, John A. (First and Second World Wars correspondence, photographs and other materials)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Content Description
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
    Title: John A. Butler First and Second World Wars correspondence, photographs and other materials
    Creator: Butler, John Alexander, Private, 1894-1963
    source: Chapman, Leeayn
    Identifier/Call Number: 2017.276.w.r
    Physical Description: .15 Linear feet (1 folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1910 December 21 - 1944 February 17
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, photographs, and a medal relating to the service of Pvt. John A. Butler, AEF during the First World War, as well as ration books belonging to his family during the Second World War.
    Language of Material: English .
    Container: WWI 13
    Container: 9

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Leeayn Chapman in honor of John Alexander Butler.


    This collection is arranged by material type and chronology. The postcards and photograph do not have dates but they can be inferred to originate from the First World War era.

    Biographical / Historical

    Private John Alexander Butler, American Expeditionary Forces (9/16/1894 - 11/2/1963) was born in Marshall, Texas to Charles Calhound Butler and Jessie Goodwyne. He had three sisters, Ethel "Ef" Eugenia, Lillie Belle (passed away at age 3 in 1899), and Thelma Christine. The family moved to El Paso, Texas and then Los Angeles where Butler worked as an auto mechanic before the war. He then served in the Sanitary Detachment, 111th Ammunition Train Regiment, 36th Division at Camp Bowie in Forth Worth, Texas and Camp Coetquidan in France. He deployed on the Orizaba from Hoboken, New Jersey on July 31, 1918 and returned from St. Nazaire, France on the SS Arcadia on February 28, 1919.
    Pvt. Butler married Marie Abbie Leeds on February 1, 1921 in Los Angeles and Ethel married ALbert Damon Lee, the two of them having a daughter, Barbara Anne. John Alexander died in Los Angeles at the age of 69 in 1963.
    Historical Note: the OPA (Office of Price Administration) Red Points were used as exact change for certain rationed purchases, such as gas, during the war. There were red and blue coins made from vulcanized fiber that carried different point values.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], John A. Butler First and Second World War correspondence, photographs and other materials (2017.276.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Content Description

    This collection contains one correspondence, one school program, seven postcards, three photographs, and a WWI Victory Medal relating to the service of Pvt. John A. Butler, AEF during the First World War. Also included are eight ration books, three ration book certificates, three OPA Red Points, and one application for special mileage belonging to his family during the Second World War.
    The postcards are from various towns where Pvt. Butler stayed in France, with short descriptions. The photographs include one of Butler in a suit, one as a child with his sister, and one of the family in 1917, with him in uniform.
    The ration books and OPA points belonged to Ethel, her husband Albert, and daughter Barbara. The application was filled out by Ethel for extra mileage points in February 1944 due to her parents' illnesses and needing to care for them in Monterey Park.
    Pvt. Butler's correspondence is written to his sisters Ethel and Thelma, and one of their babies, on June 16, 1918 to give a description of Army life at Camp Bowie. He gives a complete breakdown of a typical day while he works in the infirmary, from reveille to mess call, to sick call in the morning, all the way through the day of drill, inspections, and going to town. The sick call brings in a lot of "gold bricks," people who are always trying to get out of duty by pretending to be sick. He feeds them pills and salts until they becoming tired of the ruse, though the infirmary continues to get around 50 soldiers claiming to be sick every morning. He spent some time in the base hospital recently because of his tonsils, which they treated with "nitrate of silver" to burn them out for five mornings in a row.
    He continues describing the typical day, noting that his unit gets to finish up earlier than the rest of the regiment because the rest have horses to water and groom. He says that the medical detachments do not do as much as the other branches of the service, noting, "guess when we cross the pond we will get our share of the work." He also notes that he expects to leave for France soon, a few weeks or a month. He then describes a regimental inspection of pup tents and packs, with detailed descriptions of each item they carry.
    Lastly, he mentions his girl "Marjorie" Miller, eluding to the fact that she is not the only girl he has "gone with" while there but she is the only one to ask him to dinner and church.

    Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Correspondence -- World War, 1914-1918
    War -- Medical aspects
    World War (1914-1918) -- Photography
    Basic training (Military education)
    Chapman, Leeayn