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A Guide to the Luther E. Smith, Jr. Papers

Finding aid prepared by Cameron Barratt

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
October 2004

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Smith, Luther E., Jr.
Title: Luther E. Smith, Jr. Papers
Dates: 1939-1949
Abstract: Letters by or about Sgt. Luther Edward Smith, Jr. during his military service in World War II dated November 1939 to July 1949.
Extent: 0.4 Linear feet. 1 Box.
Identification: MS 175
Language(s): English
Online Content Items from this collection have been digitized and are available online.

Biographical/Historical Note

Luther Edward Smith, Jr. of Jacksonville, Florida, trained and fought as a B25 bomber pilot in the Army Air Force during World War II. His training was extensive and he reached the rank of Sergeant before his B25 crashed over Europe and he was officially declared dead as of September 23, 1944.

Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of 286 letters by or about Sgt. Luther Edward Smith, Jr. during his military service in World War II. Smith wrote the majority of these letters to his parents, Luther E. Smith, Sr. and Evelyn Lois Smith of Jacksonville, between January 1942 and September 1944. The correspondence primarily focuses on daily base life in the U.S. during the war, but the letters from 1944 depict combat experience over Africa and Europe. The collection spans 1939 to 1949.

The majority of the collection consists of letters from Luther to his parents describing his experiences at the various bases he visited during his training. The letters begin with Smith in pre-pilot training in South Carolina. He wrote often, sometimes twice in the same day, from January 1942 until May 1944. Smith traveled to a number of bases across the country including bases in South Carolina, South Dakota, Alabama and Georgia. He covered eight states in his training before being shipping overseas to Africa and Corsica. These letters would be of particular interest to researchers studying daily life on an Army training base during the war.

In addition to Smith's correspondence with his parents, the collection includes several letters pertaining to the crash of Smith's plane in Italy. Letters from the War Department to the mothers of those individuals lost in Smith's plane and letters between the mothers themselves depict the weeks following the crash. Some of the mothers whose sons were lost in the crash began to receive vague letters from their sons weeks after being declared "missing in action." The letters discuss the condition of the survivors and that of their comrades.

Other letters in the collection include correspondence from friends and family to Smith Jr., as well as letters from Smith Sr., a Coast Guard officer in Jacksonville, to his wife. Accompanying some of these letters are newspaper clippings and photographs.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items can be viewed at:

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Luther E. Smith, Jr. Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum.

Contents List

1 1942: Letters to his family in Jacksonville. January 19, 1942 - December 26, 1942
1 1943: Letters to his family in Jacksonville. January 13, 1943 - September 2, 1943
1 1943: Letters to his family in Jacksonville. September 3, 1943 - December 20, 1943
1 1944: Letters to his family in Jacksonville. January 10, 1944 - September 7, 1944
1 Letters from his family. August 1, 1942 - April 21, 1943
1 Letters by friends. November 29, 1939 - December 4, 1943
1 Letters by his father to his mother. April 21, 1943 - May 29, 1944
1 Letters between mothers of the crew. December 2, 1944 - October 20, 1945
1 Letters from the War Department. 1944-1949
1 Letters of condolence. February 18, 1944 - May 5, 1945
1 Newspaper articles. Not dated
1 Miscellaneous documents (Army documents, photos, etc.). Not dated

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Aeronautics, Military -- study and teaching.
Flight training.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Aerial operations, American.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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