About This Collection
The Robert Lincoln O'Connell papers document the service of an Irish-American soldier, born in Massachusetts, but raised in Connecticut, who served as a combat engineer in the First Division of the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) in the First World War, 1917-1919. The papers include correspondence (31 letters, 19 postcards, 1 telegram) he wrote home, primarily to his mother, Mary, and sisters Ellen and Sarah, from his training in Washington, D.C. and Virginia through active duty service in France and Germany. Also included are military odds and ends, such as numerous passes and orders, in addition to several publications and photographs as well as dozens of postcards, associated with his time in the U.S. Army. There are also some items gathered recently by his family members and/or Archives staff, such as copies of federal census forms and his obituary, to supplement the collection. The postcards have a special circumstance in that Robert tended to divide them into two parts. There were very basic ones, usually with little or no illustration, that he used for correspondence purposes. The other type were the photograph and color prints that he apparently considered as collectibles, either sending them home with his letters, or bringing home himself after the war. There are also some memorabilia items such as button pins, French coins, and a army bottle opener.