The collection comprises 1 box, with 6 folders containing a total of 52 letters, 6 photographic negatives, and 15 miscellaneous items and realia.
Letters from family and friends provide local news about Stilphen’s hometown of Swanton, VT, including the lives and deaths of local residents, activities like dancing, masquerade parties, and business, with reference to the topics of prohibition and women’s suffrage. Hometown correspondents include friends, future husband Homer W. Hungerford, and Stilphen’s family, including mother and father, Fannie M. and Hiram C. Stilphen, sister Barbara Stilphen Hillers, ‘23, brother Mortimer, and aunt May.
Besides her mother, sister, aunt, and two girlfriends, the bulk of the letters are from men who are hometown friends, suitors, enlisted men, Middlebury College students, or a combination thereof. Middlebury College friends, male and female, mention fraternity and sorority customs. James P. “Brainy” Bower, ’20, was a suitor and military man, and his letters mention other Middlebury men in the military, including Herbert C. Brokenshire, ’20; Francis N. Hinchey, ’21; Augustus P. Benedict, ’17; Robert B. Shepardson, ’21; John W. “Jocko” Mead, ’21; Allen Prest Logan, ’16; George J. Keppler, ’21; and Joseph P. Kasper, ’20. James Rankin Geddes, ’21, is likely the “Jim” who pens the 6 love letters of 1919 (Folder 5). Homer W. Hungerford is a Swanton, VT, man who served in the Navy and marries Stilphen in 1922. Correspondence reveals contemporary dating practices and activities, and provides glimpses of wartime logistics and military regimen. The wartime letters are the first to mention the influenza epidemic and instances of quarantine.
Of particular note is the letter from 1st Lieutenant, Frank T. Bobst, Middlebury College class of 1916. Writing from France in January 1919, shortly after the Armistice, Lt. Bobst thanks Stilphen for her letter written on behalf of the War Service Committee at Middlebury, and speaks briefly of his life in France, including action in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and his current post-war position as Scout Instructor to officers and non-commissioned officers of the army of occupation. His impressions of the non-military public view of war and post-war effects on social life are insightful. The envelope has a “passed by censor” stamp with signature.