MS-126: Anita Faller Alford Collection
MS – 126: The Anita Faller Alford Collection
(2 boxes, .54 cubic feet)
Inclusive Dates: 1937 - ca. 1980s-1990s
Bulk Dates: 1943-1945
Processed by: Devin McKinney
Ms. Alford donated the material to Special Collections in November 2003. The donation was accepted by Dr. Michael Birkner, Associate Professor in the Department of History, Gettysburg College.
Anita Carol Faller was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on September 11, 1921, the daughter of a former city councilman. She grew up in New Milford and attended Hackensack High School, graduating in 1939. Her older brother, Louis, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps soon after Pearl Harbor. He was reported missing on March 25, 1942, while flying a secret reconnaissance mission near Fiji. (Anita’s cousin, Lt. Charles Faller, also went missing, after a bombing run over Germany; it was later learned he had been shot down and taken prisoner.)
Anita became a registered nurse in 1943, following three years’ training at Margaret Hague Hospital, Jersey City Medical Center. Volunteering for military service, she entered the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and completed basic training at Brigantine Island, north of Atlantic City. She was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on April 26, 1944, and spent the summer stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
She was then assigned to the 121st General Hospital at Camp Lufton, near Yeovil in the county of Somerset, England. Anita remained there through the spring of 1945, treating American GIs and British “Tommies,” with occasional sight-seeing leaves to Scotland and Ireland. The Army then sent her to its staging area at Le Havre, Normandy, en route to a new assignment in Germany. On the way, she saw Dieppe, Neufchatel-en-Bray, and the cemeteries at Verdun.
Anita served at the 121st G. H. post in Bremen through July and August of 1945. Just before V-J Day, she enrolled in the American University at Biarritz, France, to study American literature and other subjects. She spent the last months of the year there, with side trips to Paris, Bayonne, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and Lourdes. She returned to the United States in January 1946, and was discharged from the Nurse Corps later in the year.
In 1950, Anita worked as a visiting nurse in Philadelphia, and in 1951, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. That year, she also married Penn dental student James W. Sheppard. The couple had two children and settled in Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania.
In 1966, Anita became director of the Adams County Visiting Nurse Association, a position she held for eight years. Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, she was active in the local community, volunteering at Gettysburg Hospital, the Gettysburg College infirmary, and the Mountain Manor Drug and Alcohol Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She was involved in Girl Scouts of America, Meals on Wheels, and Bloodmobile drives, and was a captain of the Adams County United Fund. An avid golfer, she participated in, and often won, local tournaments.
The Sheppards were divorced in 1989. Anita remained in Gettysburg for a time before remarrying to a man she had met during the war. She took his surname of Alford, and they lived for several years in California. After Mr. Alford’s death, Anita returned to Gettysburg and the house she’d lived in years before, on North Howard Avenue.
Anita Faller Alford died on January 6, 2011, at the Brethren Home in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. She was 89 years old.
Scope and content note
The Anita Faller Alford Collection is arranged into the following series: Scrapbook; Photographs; Newspapers, Newsletters, and Magazines; Maps and Guides; Military Documents and Publications; Ephemera; Non-War-Related Personal Effects; and Addenda.
The chief strength of the collection is in its dozens of photographs, which show every phase of Ms. Alford’s military service and record the locations where she served and traveled. There are particularly extensive views of British and French locales. Since the collection was processed at the item level, descriptions are provided of each photograph.
In addition, the collection contains a variety of unique commercial publications from the U.S. and Europe, and personal memorabilia representing the experience of a young American woman in the nursing corps in the U.S. Army’s European Theatre of Operations.
It is a weakness of the collection that while many of the photographs are marked as to date and location, many others are not. The collection also lacks material on the medical and nursing aspects of Ms. Alford’s service.
Among the points of broad historical interest addressed by the collection are: World War II; women in war; the history of the Army Nurse Corps; Women’s Studies; Atlantic City and New Jersey history; World War II England; World War II Ireland; World War II Scotland; World War II Anglo-American relations; World War II Franco-American relations; World War II U.S. service hospitals overseas; post-World War II France; and post-World War II Germany.
Series I: Scrapbook
This series contains items that were originally mounted on scrapbook pages, presumably by Ms. Alford, probably in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The bulk of the material is photographic, and covers the period of Ms. Alford’s induction, basic training, graduation, and first overseas posting. Also included are newspaper clippings; souvenir postcards; ephemera such as invitations and announcements; and the official notification of Ms. Alford’s acceptance into the Army Nurse Corps.
The items have been remounted on non-acidic paper, replicating Ms. Alford’s page layouts. Included is a photocopy of the pages as they were originally received.
Series II: Photographs
This series, containing the bulk of the collection, is divided into five subseries based on chronology and subject matter.
Subseries A contains images predating Ms. Alford’s induction, including two of her brother Louis. Subseries B, C, and D comprise photographs taken by Ms. Alford during her service, identified by her as to date and place. They chronicle postings and side trips in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Subjects range from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the beaches of Biarritz, from a bullfight to scenes of daily street life.
Subseries D contains wartime photographs for which no identification is given, although many appear contemporaneous with shots identified in previous subseries. They include European street scenes; pictures taken in transit between postings; and portraits, both candid and posed, of Ms. Alford’s military friends and acquaintances.
Subseries E consists of souvenir postcards accumulated by Ms. Alford in the course of her European travels. These are divided into two sub-subseries, the first containing commercially packaged sets, the second single items. Photocopies are included of the packages that contained the sets as they were originally received.
Series III: Newspapers, Newsletters, and Magazines
This series contains printed news matter, the bulk dating from 1945. Included are clippings of GI poetry, cartoons, and news stories, as well as complete issues of the military publications Yank and Overseas Woman. There are also several locally-produced newspapers and newsletters from Ms. Alford’s places of posting.
Series IV: Maps and Guides
Series IV contains land maps and guidebooks, prepared either by commercial vendors or the military, accumulated by Ms. Alford during her service. Included are both city and national maps, and photographic tourist guides to European sites.
Series V: Military Documents and Publications
Series V contains letters, orders, and official pamphlets produced by the United States Army. Included are copies of some of Ms. Alford’s assignment orders, a German phrase book, and a guide for American service personnel on the attitudes and customs of the British people.
Series VI: Ephemera
This series contains those items normally defined as ephemeral—matter, usually printed, that is intended for temporary use. All material dates from Ms. Alford’s years of service, and is divided into two subseries—personal/secular and religious. The first includes calendars, membership cards, programs for entertainment events, and invitations to military functions. The second includes prayer cards, programs for church services, and booklets of inspirational writings.
Series VII: Non-War-Related Personal Effects
Series VII contains items dating from the period following Ms. Alford’s service. Included are such items as a birthday card, an address book, a book of poetry, and photographs whose subjects and locales are for the most part unidentified, or whose relationship to Ms. Alford is undetermined.
Series VIII: Addenda
This series contains two documents relating to Dr. Michael Birkner’s acceptance of Ms. Alford’s donated collection: a letter to the former Director of Special Collections, Gettysburg College, detailing Birkner’s interview with Ms. Alford in November 2003; and a preliminary collection inventory made by Birkner at that time.