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Kempton (Grace A.; and Willett Main) family papers
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Collection Details
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  • Acquisition Information
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Access to Collection
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Grace A. Kempton and Willett M. Kempton family papers
    source: Kempton, Grace Arrington
    creator: Kempton, Grace Arrington
    creator: Kempton, Willett Main
    Identifier/Call Number: M2004
    Physical Description: 17 Linear Feet (46 boxes, 1 map folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1937-1978
    Date (bulk): bulk
    Abstract: Correspondence and printed material largely related to World War II from Grace Kempton, who worked for the Army Public Relations Office and later joined the Women's Army Corp, and her husband Willett Kempton, who worked for the Office of War Information.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of John Houston Kempton. Accession 2014-016.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Access to Collection

    The materials are open for research use.

    Scope and Contents

    The Kempton Family Collection contains correspondence and printed material relating to World War II from Grace Arrington Kempton and her husband Willett Main Kempton, both of whom were journalists involved with morale and propaganda efforts.
    Willet Kempton was Grace's journalism instructor at the University of Georgia. They were married in 1939 and Grace Kempton began writing a column for Southern newspapers. In 1942 she started working with the Army Public Relations Office. The following year, Grace enlisted in the Women's Army Corps, working in the Pentagon for the Bureau of Public Relations’ Morale Services. There she managed information about the WACs and published articles in magazines such as Yank and Overseas Woman.
    During the war, Willet Kempton was Department Director of Information for the Office for Emergency Management, which later transitioned to the Office of War Information. Willet wrote the syndicated “Home Front” and” Answers to Your War Questions” columns, as well as tracking and reviewing other war news. In 1943 he was in charge of radio relations for the agency. In this capacity, Kempton was involved with the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945. He later taught at American University, eventually becoming chair of the Department of Communications.
    The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, typescripts, press releases and drafts of articles, as well as many newspapers and clippings, including camp newsletters and other publications with limited distribution.
    There are also related materials from family members Judson Kempton (who served as a medic in England in the late 1930s) and Homer Arrington (who served as a navigator in the Air Force in Europe during World War Two). Also included is a genealogy chart prepared by John Houston Kempton (son of Willett and Grace Kempton).

    Processing Information

    Collection has been minimally processed with a folder listing only. No physical rearrangement or preservation has been performed. Some folders contain fragile and damaged material. Some of the more egregiously damaged material was photocopied for preservation.

    Biographical / Historical

    Grace Arrington Kempton
    Grace Arrington was born in Rome, Georgia in 1916. She earned an A.B. in English literature from Shorter College, then a B.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1940. She married one of her journalism instructors, Willett Main Kempton, on August 5, 1939. Her journalism career began as a society columnist for the Banner Herald in Athens, GA in 1940, and she was later a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution (1942) and the Army Public Relations Office (1942­1943) before writing society columns for Palm Beach (FL) Life (1947) and the McLean Providence Journal (1952­1953). Grace enlisted in the army in 1943, and served in the Women's Army Corps at the Pentagon during World War II, where she attained the rank of captain before departing in 1945. She was ever active in her community, and was a member of the Women's Board of the George Washington University Hospital (1953), the Northern VA board of Realtors, the VA Real Estate Association, the American Newspaper Women's Club, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Chi Omega, Women in Communications, the Heritage Foundation, and the Capital Speakers Club. Grace served as publicity chairman of the Fairfax County Cancer Society (1953), director of the McLean Horse Show Association, and in 1975, President of the Georgia State Society. She founded and ran a public relations firm, the "Embassy Service Bureau" (1946 – 1947), then served as an administrative assistant to congressman Henderson Lanham (GA) from 1947 – 1948. She founded in 1955 the Grace A. Kempton Realty Company in Mclean, which she ran until the late 1980's. Her husband, Willett, died in 1962. (source: Money & King Funeral Home obituary, February 2012)
    Willett Main Kempton
    Willett Kempton was born in Mt.Carroll, Illinois in 1900, graduated from Culver Military Academy and received his Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. During World War II Kempton was Department Director of Information for the Office of Emergency Management, later known as the Office of War Information (OWI). From 1943 to 1945, he was in charge of radio relations for the OWI. From 1946 to 1948, he was Director of Radio for the Department of Interior, working with President Truman on radio broadcasts. Considered a pioneer in the emerging field of Communications, he became chairman of the Department of Communications at American University in 1947 and worked there until his death in 1962 (Excerpted from American University obituary, November 29th, 1962)

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], Grace A. Kempton and Willett M. Kempton family papers (M2004). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1939-1945 -- Women -- United States -- Correspondence.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Correspondence -- Sources
    Kempton, Grace Arrington
    Kempton, Grace Arrington
    Kempton, Willett Main
    Kempton, Willett Main
    United States. Army. Women's Army Corps
    United States. Office of War Information