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Richard M. and Marion Boydston Papers


The Boydston Papers were donated to the University Archives by Marion Boydston on August 2, 2003. The collection contains 253 written letters and 305 V-Mails spanning the days and months between June 1943 and October 1945 while Richard served in the United States Army. All letters were handwritten (including V-Mails) except six that were typed.

With a few exceptions, the 558 letters are incoming from Richard Boydston to his wife Marion. The letters are from different regions of the world and stages of World War II, and they describe his experiences in each location. They begin in California in 1943 followed by his train ride to the East Coast in 1943, then to North Africa, 1943-1944, the invasion of southern Italy, 1944, and the invasion of southern France, 1945, where he remained until October 1945 at which time he returned to the U. S. after the war ended. All the correspondence is preserved in three document boxes.

Processing of the Boydston Papers was completed by Christy Birney in February 2004. The accession number of the collection is P2003.12.

Biographical Sketch

Richard Mason Boydston was born on February 4, 1917 in Randolph, Missouri, the youngest of four boys. Richard ("Dick") attended Kansas City, Missouri public schools and graduated from Central High School in 1934, after which he attended Kansas City Junior College. At this time, Richard was employed by Skelly Oil Company in Kansas City where he worked in the service station, advertising department, and as a retail sales district manager and division manager.

Richard enlisted in the United States Army after Pearl Harbor in 1942, and was assigned to the Quarter Master Corps. After being stationed in Skagway, Alaska, he went to Officer's Candidate School at Fort Francis E. Warren in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Following his time at Fort Warren, he was stationed at two Army posts in California, the last of which being San Bernardino for desert training (which he continually refers to as San Berdu. in letters to his wife).

During the month of June 1943, Richard spent his leave at home with his mother in Kansas City before being deployed overseas. On June 16, 1943, he had a blind date with Marion Elmer, the future Mrs. Richard M. Boydston, from Manhattan, Kansas. Marion was a chemist for General Mills in Kansas City. On July 7, 1943, Marion and Richard were married at Mission Inn, Riverside, California; one month later Richard left for overseas assignment.

While overseas Richard was stationed in North Africa, southern Italy, and finally southern France, where he was stationed in Marseilles for a year and promoted to the rank of Major. After Marseilles he went to Rognac, about thirty miles away, where he stayed until redeployment for the states was issued in October 1945, 29 months after leaving for overseas duty.

Upon leaving the U. S. Army, Richard rejoined Skelly Oil Company and worked in the following locations: Butler, Missouri; Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Richard retired in 1977 and he and Marion moved to Marion's hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, Manhattan Rotary Club, Kansas State University President's Club, and the Manhattan Country Club.

Richard and Marion had two children and four grandchildren. Their son Rick, and his wife Susan, had three children, while their daughter Anne, and her husband Will, had a son. Richard Mason Boydston died on May 18, 1998 in Manhattan, Kansas.

Scope and Content Note

The Boydston Papers, 1943-1945, document the life of two newly weds forced to separate just a month after being married when Richard was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army. The correspondence provides reference to historical happenings during World War II after Pearl Harbor, Richards's insight on life and his opinions during the war, and life in foreign countries.

Most of the 558 letters are from Richard ("Dick") M. Boydston to his "war widowed" wife Marion, but there are, on some occasions, letters to Marion from acquaintances. The majority of each letter tells of Richard's everyday life, such as work, food, living quarters, weather, and, occasionally, news of the war. They provide a vivid picture of what a soldier stationed overseas and his wife went through during a separation caused by war. Due to military censorship and confidentiality issues, Richard could not specify the exact geographical location of where he was stationed, however, the researcher can usually obtain some sense of the area in which he was stationed.

The correspondence is housed in three document boxes and arranged chronologically from the first letter Richard wrote to the last. The V-Mail letters were photocopied for preservation purposes and filed chronologically with the letters. The original V-Mails are stored separately in box three.

Container List

 Box  Folder   Correspondence
  1    01        1943 Jun-Aug
       02             Sep
       03             Oct
       04             Nov
       05             Dec
       06        1944 Jan
       07             Feb 1-18
       08             Feb 20-29
       09             Mar 1-13
       10             Mar 14-31
       11             Apr
       12             May
       13             Jun 2-17
       14             Jun 20-30
  2    01        1944 Jul 3-20
       02             Jul 22-31
       03             Aug
       04             Sep
       05             Oct
       06             Nov
       07             Dec
       08        1945 Jan 1-18
       09             Jan 19-30
       10             Feb
       11             Mar
       12             Apr
       13             May 3-15
       14             May 19-31
       15             Jun 1-8
       16             Jun 9-28
  3    01        1945 Jul 2-17
       02             Jul 18-30
       03             Aug 2-15
       04             Aug 17-31
       05             Sep 2-17
       06             Sep 19-31
       07             Oct 1-5
       08        Tipp-Boydston
       09        August 27, 1943-December 30, 1943
       10        January 1, 1944-August 27, 1945