Anita Williams Papers, 1917-ca. 1942 (bulk 1917-1918, 1940)
(Document/manuscript/pamphlet/archival material)

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LocationCall NumberStatus
Special Collections - Upon RequestMap room drawer K-4 folder 5Library Use Only
Special Collections - Upon RequestWorkroom range 5 section 4Library Use Only

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Document/manuscript/pamphlet/archival material
Physical Desc
29 folders.
1 oversize folder.


Organization & arrangement of materials
Correspondence,Arranged chronologically by year or decade.
General Note
Materials housed in the Special Collections Division of the Main Library, Nashville Public Library.
General Note
Oversize item is a Jefferson Centennial certificate c. 1925.
Restrictions on Access
In library use only. Available by appointment.
Scope and content: The first part of the collection consists of photocopies of letters written to Anita Williams, a Nashville, Tenn. resident, from Norman P. Earle, a Navy lieutenant from Des Plaines, Illinois, while he served aboard the destroyer USS Wadsworth (DD-60) during World War I. In his letters, he discusses life at sea, including drills, wargames, manuevers, day-to-day life aboard ship, weather and rolling seas, and as war progresses, he tells of the weariness of being on a constant state of alert, watching for German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean off the European and British coasts. He comments at length about military censorship, sometimes even quoting regulations, and explains that this is the reason he cannot tell Anita much about what he has been doing. Instead, he tells her about his infrequent opportunities for social and recreational activities, including tennis, golf, dancing and parties, and expresses astonishment that British women smoke and drink liquor. He often shares lyrics of songs and poems with Anita, sometimes even including musical notation. He frequently describes bouts of homesickness and writes often about his parents and siblings. At times, he also frequently expresses his lack of interest in religious matters, though he compliments a chaplain for starting a recreation hall for the sailors. His letters lack information about combat or other explicit, detailed references to the war, though in most other matters not likely to get the censors' attention, he is fairly detailed and articulate.
The rest of the collection consists of personal papers of Williams, primarily correspondence in 1940 to and from members of the U.S. House of Representatives concerning the Wool Products Labeling Act (H.R. 944), sent and received while Williams was a member of the Nashville Federation of Women's Clubs and served as Chairman of Special Legislation for the Nashville Woman's Club. A small quantity of correspondence ca. 1926-1929 concerns Williams' activities with the Tennessee League of Women Voters; her advocacy for legislation concerning marriage in Tennessee and the Sheperd-Towner Act in Congress; her support of Thomas Edmund Durritt Jr. to secure an appointment to West Point; and her ownership of bonds in the Tennessee Coal and Oil Company. A genealogy poem associated with the Daughters of the American Revolution entitled, "Ancestry of Mrs. Mildred C. Shinn" and two "Women's Playlets" from World War II, entitled "Mother Buys a Bond" and "Father Wins the Peace" are also part of the collection.
Preferred Citation of Described Materials
Cite as: Anita Williams Papers, Special Collections Division, Nashville Public Library.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Anita Williams personal papers;,copyright status undetermined.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Photocopies of letters from Norman P. Earle;,Nashville Public Library does not have intellectual property rights to this portion of the materials.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Anita Williams personal papers;,Marshall Falwell;,Gift;,1997.,Acc. RT-155.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Photocopies of letters from Norman P. Earle;,Lee Wilson;,Gift;,2007.,Acc. 2007.042.
Biographical or Historical Data
Anita Thetis Williams was born in Shelbyville, Tenn., c. 1896, the daughter of Lester Williams and Annie Jones Robinson. She graduated from Ward Belmont school in Nashville. She entered Vanderbilt University as a pre-med student, receiving her bachelor's degree in science, but was refused admission to Vanderbilt's medical school because she was a woman. She received her master's degree in sociology and political economy from Vanderbilt in 1919. While at Vanderbilt, she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and helped establish the Vanderbilt University Girls' Suffrage Club. In 1924, she organized and chaired Tennessee's National Democratic League of Youth. For many years, she served as president of the Tennessee League of Women Voters. She also headed the Legislative Council of Tennessee Women; was a member and frequent office holder in the League of American Penwomen; and served as president of Tennessee Woman's Press and Authors. She campaigned for various legislative issues concerning women and family, including a bill which required a five day notice before marriage. Through her work with the Federation of Women's Clubs at the local, state, and national levels, she became very involved in many legislative and political issues. She worked as a reporter for the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, sold insurance, and worked as a substitute teacher at City High School. She served as honorary president of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was active in their Ft. Nashborough chapter. She was a long time member of the First Baptist Church in Nashville. She never married, and died in Franklin, Tenn. on Jan. 11, 1995.
Biographical or Historical Data
Norman P. Earle was born on Jan. 9, 1895, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1916 with an appointment from Illinois. He was awarded the Navy Cross for actions taken on July 29, 1917 when, as officer of the deck, he was first to sight a German submarine, and changed course, dropping a depth charge which either crippled or destroyed the submarine. He resigned from the Navy in 1920, and died on May 1, 1926. He met Anita Williams sometime prior to 1917 when she visited his hometown of Des Plaines, Illinois
Ownership and Custodial History
Letters from Norman P. Earle were acquired from Anita Williams' estate sale, held to sell the house and its contents that she owned at 746 Benton Ave. in Nashville, the address to which the letters were sent, when she was aged and in a nursing home. The copies of these letters were given to the Nashville Public Library by Lee Wilson, who was given the letters by Marshall Falwell, Jr., who acquired them from the Williams estate sale. The originals of the Earle letters were given to the Naval Historical Collection at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.


APA Citation, 7th Edition (style guide)

Williams, A. T., & Earle, N. P. Anita Williams Papers .

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Williams, Anita Thetis, 1896-1995 and Norman P. Earle. Anita Williams Papers. .

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities (Notes and Bibliography) Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Williams, Anita Thetis, 1896-1995 and Norman P. Earle. Anita Williams Papers .

MLA Citation, 9th Edition (style guide)

Williams, Anita Thetis, and Norman P. Earle. Anita Williams Papers

Note! Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy. Citation formats are based on standards as of August 2021.

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