Maude Helen Canfield was born and raised in Harvard, Idaho. She was the youngest of five sisters and only seventeen when the United States entered World War I. She was beautiful and spirited, and I was fortunate that she lived long enough for us to become correspondents.
But in 1917-1919, she had plenty of other correspondents. Classmates and friends from Harvard served in the US Army and Navy (and the Canadian Army), and they wrote to her often. Sometimes strangers wrote to her, too — and she responded. She kept all of these letters and many of the photographs they took, and because she had no children, ultimately I inherited them.
The last veteran of World War I died in February 2012. But the men who wrote to Dearest Maude come alive in their letters. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. (As you read, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that she married one of the men who wrote to her!)
I count Maude’s things among my most prized possessions. Not only do I have the letters, but there are many photo albums, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia. They bring World War I and a tiny Northern Idaho town to life.
I add new letters Monday-Wednesday-Friday. The letters, you’ll notice, aren’t posted in precise chronological order. I’ve mixed them up a bit to keep things a bit more varied, and also because letters, particularly from ships, posted strangely.
You can contact me at dearestmaude AT overthere DOT us.