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Steven and Clara Summers papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 94

Scope and Contents

The Steven and Clara Summers papers (1941-1945) documents the lives of Steven and Clara Summers and other family and friends during Steven’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II.  Types of materials include: correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, official military documents, portraits, and military artifacts.  The Papers are organized into six series.


  • 1941 - 1946
  • Other: Date acquired: 08/02/2010


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Steven Summers was born in 1914. He lived in South Bend, Indiana In May, 1941, he married Clara Gertrude Buwa, who was from Monterey, Indiana. Their daughter Dorothy Marie Summers was born on June 16, 1945. Summers served in the United States Army, 879th Ordnance Regiment, Company Q during World War II. He was ordered to report for induction on June 23, 1942. He was certified in basic automotive mechanics while in the Army, although he did work as an auto repairman during his civilian life before the war. He was stationed in various places during the war, including Illinois, California, and Arkansas. In 1945, he served in France and visited Paris. While in France, his daughter Dorothy was born. He received a letter on February 6, 1946 from the chairman of his local Selective Service board notifying him that he had completed his period of service. During some of Summers’ service time, Clara lived with Steven’s mother, father, and dog Bouncer in South Bend. While living here, Clara wrote Steven almost every day during parts of 1942 and 1943. In July 1943, Clara lived with Steven off-base near Banning, California before returning to South Bend. Clara worked for a number of companies around South Bend during the war, including Bendix Appliance. Steven’s brother, Rudy, lived in South Bend for a time and corresponded with Steven. A topic Rudy often mentions in his letters is the status of their sister Olga’s grave, which he regularly maintained and sometimes sent pictures of.


4.20 Cubic Feet

6 mss. boxes, 1 small flat box, 1 large flat box other_unmapped

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 mss._boxes

1.00 flat_box

1.00 flat_box

Arrangement Note

1.  Correspondence, 1942-1945 (2 cubic feet).  The correspondence involves a number of senders, including Steven, Clara, Rudy Summers (Steven’s brother), and Mrs. R. Summers (Steven and Rudy’s mother), although the only recipients are Clara and Steven.  It is typically one-way correspondence, although through some periods of time, specifically in June-July 1945, the correspondence is two-way, as Clara was preparing to give birth to Dorothy, their daughter.  One notable gap in the correspondence occurs in the last half of 1943, when Clara lived in California with Steven. While there are a few letters from July-November 1943, there is no correspondence from November 15, 1943-December 31, 1944.  In 1944, the primary correspondent is Mrs. R. Summers writing to Steven and Clara in Alabama and Mississippi.  Another notable gap occurs from December 8, 1944-May 12, 1945.  A few letters were unopened in late December 1945, indicating that Steven returned home from war before Christmas.     Materials in the series are arranged chronologically.         2.  Photographs, circa 1940s. The photographs document Steven’s visit to Paris, France and various other occasions during his service in World War II. There are also many family photographs, mostly unidentified. The original order of the photographs is maintained.   3.  Greeting Cards, circa 1940s.  The greeting cards involve a number of senders, but most likely only Steven and Clara are the recipients.  The cards primarily focus on holidays, namely Christmas and Easter, but also mark occasions like Steven and Clara’s anniversary, their birthdays, and the birth of their daughter, Dorothy. None of the greeting cards are dated. The original order of the greeting cards is maintained.   4. Military papers and other material, 1942-1946.  This series includes a number of documents pertaining to Steven’s military career.  Notable documents: order to induction, notification of release from service, documentation of Dorothy’s birth, a certificate of completion of an auto mechanics course, and a request to live off-base with Clara.  The series also includes multiple “passes” that Steven used whenever he traveled or did something off-base.  A military-issue pamphlet on venereal diseases is also included, as well as some French currency, presumably acquired by Steven when he was serving in France. The original order of the papers and other material is maintained.   5.  Portraits, circa 1940s.  The portraits feature Steven and Clara exclusively.  Two are photographic portraits of Steven and Clara, enclosed in cardboard cases.  Two are color caricatures of Steven and Clara, which they received in Los Angeles, probably while they were living in California.  One is a black ink portrait of Steven. Another is a colored pencil drawing of Steven from his stay in Paris. PLEASE NOTE: Some items are oversize material and are housed separately.   6.  Artifacts, circa 1940s. The artifacts document Steven’s military service.  They include his army-issue belts, metal and cloth insignias, and sunglasses.

Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum on August 02, 2010.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  Some materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes.  All newsprint has been photocopied and original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Oversized photographs, portraits, and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.
Steven and Clara Summers papers
In Progress
Michael Maune
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States