This past Friday, October 10, 2008, the National Park Service held a dedication and a grand opening ceremony to officially open the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.
“The Tuskegee Airmen” was the popular name of a group of black pilots who flew with distinction during World War II as the 332nd Fighter Group of the US Army Air Corps. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States.
The museum, housed within a converted airplane hangar at Moton Field where the Airmen once trained, is a long overdo permanent tribute to the heroic group of airmen who flew more than 15,000 combat trips throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa during World War II – all while fighting discrimination on the homefront in the Jim Crow South.
Here is a portion of a letter that was written 145 years ago today (October 13, 1863). Due to time constraints, we provide here only a partial transcript. We welcome you to visit us in order to read the entire letter in person. The letter comes from our collection of “Confederate Papers”, from Unit #23 and is labeled as “Letter, 13 October 1863, from Rhoda Casey in Pendleton, S.C., to her husband noting a wagon accident and other news.”
[Note: Punctuation and capitalization have been added for the sake of the reader. Other mistakes appear here as they occur in the original letter.]
Pendleton So. Ca.
Oct. the 13th. 1863
I’ve again seat myself to write you a few lines but then I can not say that we are all well. Walter has got his foot hurt very bad. He was at Mrs. Burnes'[?] last Thursday and Friday a helping to haul in corn and just [?] as he was going in with a load, the oxins scard and turned and threw the wagon againts a tree and his foot was smash up betwixt the tree and wagon and was hurt right bad. He has not walked after since – only on chruches. But it is a great deal better now and I think he will be walking again soon.
Then I have had no letter this week. I must know. There come one last night but it has bin raining all day so that I could not go to the office and daddy went to Pickens last Sunday and has not come back yet I think maby he will come by the time I git done writing and if he does he will will come by the office.
Then I went to Anderson last Saturday and took some things and left with Mr. Dobbins for Capt. Moore to take to you. I did not take so much for I could not git them ready. I took your one shirt and pair of drawers and two pairs of socks and some thread and two twist of tobackco and then I sent your old yellow vest that you sent home. I thought it would do you a little good maby. I did not think of sending it till a few minits before I started or I would have washed it. Then I don’t know that the clothes will suit. The drawers are very coarse, I did not make it for that, but I thout it would be very warm and would last a little while. I intend to make you some more clothes just as soon as I can. […]
As we’ve stated before, one of our major goals in publishing this blog is to bring to the forefront smaller collections, lesser known items, and interesting gems embedded within larger collections of manuscript materials here in the Southern Historical Collection.
An example of the “embedded gem” variety has just reemerged and been called to our attention. It’s a wonderful scrapbook that was kept by a woman named Nell Battle Lewis. The scrapbook is embedded within the Kemp Plummer Lewis Papers, Collection #3819 (Nell’s brother’s papers).
In 1918, Nell Battle Lewis, joined the YWCA’s canteen service with the American Expeditionary Force in France. Her scrapbook from this year in Nice, France, contains Nell Battle Lewis’s passport, the Nice area “leave rules” for women, ration cards, portions of love letters and pictures from servicemen whom she met during service, photographs and post cards of Nice, and a fragment of a flag.