Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Nancy Jane Younkin
Scope and Content
This collection contains letters from Nancy ‘Jane’ Younkin to her parents and brother from October 2, 1943 to March 24, 1946. The correspondence was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in 2014.
Nancy Jane Heiman was the daughter of Calvin and Thelma Heiman. She was born in Maumee, Ohio, May 28, 1925. She grew up in Waterville, Ohio and attended high school in Haskins, Ohio. She married Harry Younkin October 16, 1943. Following World War II, Nancy and her husband lived in Bowling Green, Ohio, where Harry took advantage of the GI Bill.
Five years later, Harry Younkin accepted a position with the W. T. Grant Company. He opened and/or managed W. T. Grant stores in Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; Peoria, Illinois; Janesville, Wisconsin; Lancaster, Ohio; and Elkins, West Virginia. In 1965, the couple returned to Maumee, Ohio where Mr. Younkin managed an appliance store. Five years later, the Younkins moved to Orlando, Florida, where they worked until retirement in 1990. Six years later, Harry Younkin passed away. In 1998, Nancy Jane moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where she lives today.
Scope and Content
This collection contains 144 letters from Nancy Jane Younkin, the wife of Harry Younkin, a soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II, to her parents in northwest Ohio. During this two and a half year period, Harry was determined unfit for overseas duty due to bad knees and was assigned to bases in Oklahoma, Texas, and Indiana. He and Jane were able to live together in off-base rented rooms. Through frequent correspondence Jane was able to maintain a close relationship with her parents and younger brother as she told of their activities and either asked about or responded to news of her family in Ohio.
The majority of the letters give insight into the events in the lives of a young married couple and their standard of living during the years of World War II. She frequently told about her daily chores: washing clothes, ironing, mending, cleaning their room, and writing letters to friends or family. Shortages of consumer goods due to the war effort were addressed in comments about rationing stamps for meat, sugar, and shoes as well as the difficulty in finding items like a used iron.
Jane often wrote about their social life. She and Harry frequently went to movies or plays as well as spending evenings with other young service couples playing cards. At different times bowling or miniature golf was a favorite pastime. And, throughout this time, church and Sunday school provided a weekly mainstay as well as a social outlet.
In the first half of these letters Jane was either unemployed or working in an insurance company office. In August 1944 Jane passed her Civil Service test and was hired as a clerk/typist in the payroll office at Camp Barkeley in Texas, She held a similar position at Camp Attlebury in Indiana. Her letters refer to the activities in these Army administrative offices and the challenges she faced as co-workers were transferred to other bases.
Jane occasionally wrote about the war. At one point she mentioned every boy in her high school class was in some branch of service and commented about rumors 17-year olds would soon be drafted. She also wrote about missing friends who were transferred to new assignments as well as the uncertainty she and Harry faced as they awaited a new assignment. Camp Attlebury, Harry’s final posting, was a convalescent camp for wounded soldiers as well as a discharge station. Jane’s letters briefly described some of these injuries and mentioned some of the therapeutic activities for these soldiers. Jane’s work involved finalizing payroll records for soldiers who would soon be receiving medical discharges.
½ linear ft.
1 Correspondence Oct. – Dec. 1943
2 Correspondence Jan. – Feb. 1944
3 Correspondence March – April 1944
4 Correspondence May – June 1944
5 Correspondence July – Aug. 1944
6 Correspondence Sept. – Oct. 1944
7 Correspondence Nov. – Dec. 1944
8 Correspondence Jan. – Feb. 1945
9 Correspondence March – April 1945
10 Correspondence May – June 1945
11 Correspondence July – Aug. 1945
12 Correspondence Sept. – Oct. 1945
13 Correspondence Nov. – Dec. 1945
14 Correspondence Jan. – Feb. 1945
15 Correspondence March 1945