Pontiac, Michigan family. Biographical information; letters exchanged between Harry Crawford and his family and friends relating to his experiences in the Spanish-American War and World War I; memorabilia; and photographs.
The Crawford family collection documents the experiences of Harry M. Crawford as a soldier during the Spanish-American War and World War I. It also contains information about the home front in Pontiac, Michigan during those two wars. There are few accounts of battles in these letters; rather the strength of the collection lies in the abundant descriptions of daily life both in the army and in Pontiac during this time period.
The correspondence, which is the heart of this collection, is chronologically arranged and divided into Spanish-American War correspondence (1898) and World War I correspondence (1917-1919). The Spanish-American War correspondence is further divided into correspondence from Harry Crawford to his family in Pontiac and correspondence from family and friends to Harry Crawford. Harry Crawford's letters to his family began in May 1898 when he mustered in at Camp Eaton, west of Pontiac. Crawford continued to write home, on a near-daily basis, from army camps in and around Tampa, Florida. The letters end in September when he returned to Michigan. Most of Harry Crawford's letters pertain to the daily routines of army life during encampment and rumors about the progress of the war. While Harry Crawford was generally supportive of United States war aims, he was critical of the capture of the Philippines (see his letter of August 10). The correspondence from family and friends to Harry Crawford contains information on a wide range of daily activities in Pontiac at the turn of the century. Reactions to the war were supportive on the home front (see especially the letters of G.G. McDonald from July 4 and of George Crawford from July 31). Advice on the art of soldiering from Harry's uncle, Walter Crawford (a Civil War veteran), may be found in a letter dated July 3.
The World War I correspondence is almost exclusively from Harry Crawford. Few letters from home survived but some information about Pontiac during the war, such as the impact of the influenza and the lack of coal during the winter, may be gleaned from Harry's responses to letters from his family. Harry Crawford's letters began in August 1917 from Fort Sheridan in Illinois. They continued through 1918, from France, and concluded in April 1919 when he returned to the United States. Harry Crawford wrote, on average, two to three letters per week. While Crawford spent some time on the front lines, descriptions of actual battles are few. Many of the letters describe the camaraderie with fellow soldiers and several tell of his anticipation of combat. A number of other letters pertain to the material conditions of his daily life (food, lodgings, and clothing). He also described the destruction wrought on the French countryside. Since his letters were censored, Crawford omitted references to specific places in his letters. Some of this specific information is included in a letter to his brother, George Crawford, following the Armistice (see his letter of November 24, 1918).