Diary of a Call Slip Girl
Episode 4: Something To Write Home About
I like a patron who knows exactly what he or she wants to request, and this time the researcher only called for the letters of Virginia Withers de Boulemont from the Page family papers (Mss1 P1465 c436–479). As the patron returned the folders, a look of satisfaction crossed her eyes. I knew I had to take a closer peek.
Virginia Withers de Boulemont was originally a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, but the letters in these particular folders place her in France during World War I. The letters range from December 1914 to November 1917 and capture a time when Virginia was living in various places with her French husband Robert. In letters to her “Dear Kate,” Virginia gives us a glimpse of the conflict known as The Great War.
She always begins her letters pleasantly, but Virginia cannot hide what the Germans are doing over in Europe. In particular, she describes to Kate, in a tenser (and unfortunately undated) letter, Germany’s treatment of the Belgians. Virginia’s letters are full of insightful observations of France during each year of the war, her participation in war relief, and her experiences as a nurse in a Nice hospital. The most exciting letter is the one dated July 13, 1917, in which Virginia describes the arrival of American troops in Paris.
Come get swept away by Virginia for a day and enjoy an interesting perspective on World War I.
Elaine Hagy is a Library Clerk at the Virginia Historical Society