Collection Title: West Chester Methodist Church: War Scrapbooks
Collection Number: 205
Dates of Collection: 1917-1965
Box Numbers: Books 1-8
Repository: Chester County Historical Society
During World War II and the Korean War, members of the West Chester Methodist Church made a great effort to maintain contact with its members who were in the military. Mrs. Hazel McCoy Downs was appointed to the Secretary of Servicemen position, which aided both the soldiers and their families in a variety of ways. Every month, Mrs. Downs sent a church newsletter and a small pamphlet containing biblical readings and lessons to each soldier who was serving away from home. If the soldiers or their families had any grievances regarding their mail, Mrs. Downs was in charge of investigating the issues. She wrote many letters to post masters, Army officials, and even President Franklin Roosevelt to ensure that the soldiers received their mail on time. Mrs. Downs also created several scrapbooks which included photos, letters, Christmas cards, and military documents from each person who served. Mrs. Downs resumed the same duties during the Korean War as well. She maintained communication with over 40 servicemen and women during the time and once again created a large scrapbook for them. She also created a scrapbook containing photos and documents of her husband and his battalion during World War I. For her impressive work and lasting dedication, Mrs. Downs was awarded the American Legion Award and a decorative pin from the Women’s Society of Christian Service in 1965. She eventually donated all of the scrapbooks to the Chester County Historical Society.
CCHS Clippings File, West Chester Methodist Scrapbooks
The scrapbooks contain assorted documents pertaining to each soldier, generally ranging from their time of enlistment to their discharge or, unfortunately in some cases, their untimely death. The documents include photographs, newspaper clippings, personal letters, holiday cards, official military papers, and occasionally objects such as badges and even bullets. The total number of soldiers in the World War II scrapbooks is 238. The total number of soldiers in the Korean War book is 41. The collection also includes a volume with some of the church newsletters, and another scrapbook containing material regarding Frank J. Downs and his experiences in World War I.
Book 1: World War II: A-F
Book 2: World War II: G-K
Book 3: World War II: L-R
Book 4: World War II: S-Z
Book 5: Miscellaneous
– Mrs. Frank Downs Correspondence
– MethodistChurch Newsletters
– MethodistChurch Brochures
Book 6: Mrs. Frank Downs Letters and Church Newsletters
– Various letters written to and from Mrs. Downs usually in regards to soldiers’ mail being delayed or limited
– Newsletters to church members which report conditions in West Chester as well as the actions and events following soldiers in the community. Some of these newsletters were written during the Korean War.
Book 7: Korean War
Book 8: World War I
– Focuses primarily on Frank J. Downs and the 314th Infantry in World War I
– Newspaper Clippings, Photographs
– Annual Reunion Brochures