Several common themes are found throughout this correspondence collection. Descriptions of the hardships of war, combat, and weather conditions, be it in North Africa, Europe, or the Pacific are common throughout. Most of the correspondents ask a great deal about the state of East Texas State Teachers College during the war and inquire after their friends and colleagues at home. All of the correspondents were very thankful for receiving copies of the local newspapers, and especially the East Texan, ETSTC’s student newspaper. Most of the men and women writing to Miss Howell mention meeting other ETSTC students during their time in the service. Many aspects of war are expressed in the correspondence: combat stress, boredom, intensive work, homesickness, and fascination with other parts of the world. While most of the material in the collection is correspondence, there are also Christmas cards, postcards, photographs, newspaper clippings, and a map of the Third Army’s campaign in Europe printed after German surrender (sent by Graydon Wyatt).
Gretchen Howell (1900-2004) was a cataloging librarian at East Texas State Teachers College during World War II. Throughout the war, she corresponded with ETSTC students who were serving oversees in both the Pacific and European fronts. The students included: Joe Easterly, Jewel Kennemer, Roy Laughlin, Avery McClurg, C.L. Pope, J.R. Sayers, J.G. Smith, William L. Smith, Velma Snyder, Elsie Stuckey, J.L. Wortham, John Wright, and Graydon Wyatt. Miss Howell also corresponded with the family of Wayne Cherry and the widow of David E. DeLong. Several of these students came to ETSTC as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. The two female correspondents, Snyder and Stuckey, were on campus with a contingent of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943. Miss Howell married Samuel Phillip Colehour in 1950 before moving to Knox City, Texas, where she resided for the remainder of her life.
The collection is arranged by last name of correspondent. Each correspondent has a folder dedicated to his or her letters. If the correspondent sent any photographs with their letters, those are placed separately in the folder immediately following the letters. Material within each folder is arranged in chronologically.