Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description of the Collection

Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library

Medford Korean War Correspondence Collection



Overview of the Collection

Creator: James Medford
Title: Medford Korean War Correspondence Collection
Dates: 1948-1955
Abstract:
Accession No.: MA11-3
Quantity: 2 boxes
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Texas/Dallas History & Archives, Dallas Public Library 1515 Young St Dallas, TX 75201

Biographical Note

Sergeant James Albert Medford was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the only child of Opal and Abe Medford. A letter from one of his Aunts shows that Sergeant Medford either enlisted, or he was drafted into the United States Army Corp in 1948 and that he was stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.

In September 1951, Sergeant Medford received orders that he would be deployed to active duty in Inchonon, Korea. He was shipped out to Japan in early 1952, before arriving at the Korean front shortly afterwards. That same month, Medford wrote his first letter to Jewell Thompson, of Dallas, Texas. In this introductory letter, Medford briefly described himself, saying that mutual friends had spoken highly of Jewell and he asked that she write him back and to send him a photo of herself. Ms. Thompson rapidly complied. They wrote each other almost daily and quickly fell in love.

Sergeant Medford's first years of duty are briefly recounted in letters from fellow soldiers that went through boot camp with him. According to them, Sergeant Medford was an extremely popular soldier at Fort Hood, and he was sorely missed when the Army sent him overseas. In his day job, Sergeant Medford was a clerk who meticulously processed papers pertaining to fellow soldiers' military status, as well as cataloguing base-wide supplies and inventories, and any other vital operations necessary for his unit. By all accounts, he was excellent at his job, receiving commendations for his ability to streamline processes and save money.

Off duty, Sergeant Medford became the ring leader of a small group of young men who regularly socialized together, going to bars, seeing movies and trying to meet girls. Part of the ritualistic joking amongst these soldiers included giving each other coded nicknames of famous female movie stars. There was 'Sophie' (Sofia Loren), 'Betty' (Betty Grable), and 'Lana' (Lana Turner), amongst others.

As a single woman in the 1950's, Jewell Thompson's life mirrored that of mini Doris Day, as Thompson held a job and lived on Henderson Street in Dallas with two other working girls, Vera and Sara. The trio's social lives consisted of shopping, going to movies and plays, swimming, vacationing, sewing their own clothes and taking turns cooking the weekly meals for the household. Dating was non-existent for Thompson due to her engagement to Medford.

In 1953, Sergeant Medford married Jewell Thompson and moved back to Fort Worth. That same year, Medford was honorably discharged and eventually entered graduate school. In 1955, he was close to graduating and hoping to become a college professor. The couple was living comfortably, but had recently suffered the tragedy of a miscarriage. Thompson was not well and Medford seemed pensive. The letter depicting this part of his life is the most somber document in the entire archive and does not seem to be written by the same soldier who first wrote so boldly to Jewell Thompson. In this sense, it almost appears the reality of life back in Fort Worth was heavier than the war he survived in the Far East. The Medford Korean War Correspondence collection ends on a surreal note, as the whimsical voices dreaming of Sergeant Medford's safe return home thoughout 1952 were silenced by the reality of everyday life in Cowtown in 1955.

Return to the Table of Contents


Scope and Contents

The Medford Korean War Correspondence Collection is a highlight of a country at war, as it features the many letters Sergeant Medford received from his parents, family, and friends during his deployment. Mostly, the collection highlights his budding love affair with his future wife, Jewell Thompson, a Dallas native. It is a telling commentary on everyday life in 'Cowtown' i.e., Fort Worth, Texas from 1948 to 1955.

The collection is fascinating for its rich historical references to the minutia of rural Texan life, as well as pop culture references to the United Stats as a whole. Issues of race, gender and even class, are illustrated throughout the collection as well.

Letters between Medford and his fiance make up the first box of the collection, as they wrote each other almost daily and quickly fell in love. This three-month whirlwind affair appeared to come to an abrupt stop just after Thanksgiving, 1951, as their mutual letter-writing suddenly ceased. When their correspondence resumed again in January 1952, it becomes evident that during the 1951 holiday season, Sergeant Medford had returned to the Forth Worth/Roanoke, Texas area to visit his family and friends and while there, finally met Jewell Thompson in person in Dallas. Before the end of December 1951, the couple had become officially engaged and their correspondence was almost daily until November 1952, when Sergeant Medford was honorably discharged from the Army.

The second box in the collection includes correspondences from Sergeant Medford's immediate family members, fellow soldiers-in-combat, and various slides, newspaper clippings and citations Medford himself collected while in Korea. The most captivating bits of this part of the collection are letters from Sergeant Medford's parents, Opal and Abe Medford. It is clear from their nearly daily letters beginning always with 'Dear boy…' that Opal and Abe completely adored their only child and they feared for his life while overseas. The Medfords were not highly educated people in the traditional sense of books and degrees, but their letters prove they were extremely intelligent and passionate folks, something their son easily inherited.

While both Opal and Abe worked in the unionized factories of 'Cowtown', they were also farmers and possibly landlords. They were extremely frugal, lively, spiritual, compassionate people who were keenly aware of America's rapidly changing socio-political values. Abe Medford, in particular, was most vocal of the changes as he was a staunch Yellow Dog Democrat who wrote his son religiously of the Republican Party, giving him blow-by-blow accounts of the 1952 Presidential campaigns and election. Two of the most striking newspaper clippings in the Medford Collection are Abe Medford's 'Letters to the Editor' of the local newspaper, in which he responded to political commentary and scandals by Republicans.

Opal Medford stuck to more domestic topics in her letters, reporting on the various family members and their offspring. She noted how the Medfords spent their money, the ways they maintained their household and farm and how much she was growing to like her future daughter-in-law, Jewell. Opal and Abe each wrote or typed a letter to their son, but then would mail them together in the same envelop. On occasion, when there was little to say, they would write together on a single sheet of paper, usually with Opal writing her piece in pen, and then Abe adding his piece at the end in faint pencil. Unfortunately, unlike the first box in the collection, where we see all the letters that Sergeant Medford wrote to Jewell Thompson, and then her response back to him, no letters coming from James Medford back to his parents exist in the archives. Still, the contents of Opal and Abe's letters prove that Sergeant Medford not only wrote to his parents daily, but in keeping their letters to him during his lifetime, we come to know how dearly they cherished them.

Return to the Table of Contents


 

Arrangement

The Medford Korean War Correspondence Collection is divided into two boxes:
Box I - The private correspondence between James Medford and his fiancé, Jewell Thompson.
Box II - Correspondence between James Medford and several extended family members and friends. Also contains newspaper clipping, church pamphlets, cards, slides, photographs, official Army documents and other mementos.

Return to the Table of Contents


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Persons:
Medford, James
Thompson, Jewell

Return to the Table of Contents


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

MA11-3 Medford Korean War Correspondence, Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library

Return to the Table of Contents


Detailed Description of the Collection

 
Box Folder
1 1 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, Sept. 1951

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 2 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, Sept. - Nov. 1951

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 3 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, January 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 4 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, Jan. 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 5 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, January 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 6 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, February 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 7 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, Feb. 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 8 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, February 16-28, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 9 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, Feb. 16-28, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 10 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, March 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 11 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, March 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 12 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, March 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 13 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, April 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 14 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, April 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 15 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, April 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 16 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, April 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 17 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, May 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 18 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, May 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 19 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, May 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 20 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, May 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 21 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, June 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 22 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, June 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 23 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, June 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 24 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, June 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 25 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, July 1 -15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 26 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, July 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 27 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, July 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 28 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, July 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 29 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, August 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 30 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, August 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 31 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, August 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 32 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, August 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 33 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, September 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 34 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, Sept. 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 35 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, September 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 36 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, Sept. 16-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 37 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, October 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 38 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, October 1-15, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 39 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, October 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 40 Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, October 16-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 41 Sgt. James Medford to Jewell Thompson, November 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
1 42 Ms. Jewell Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, November 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 1 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, April to October, 1951

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 2 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, November 1-30, 1951

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 3 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, December 1-31, 1951

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 4 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, January 1-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 5 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, February 1-28, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 6 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, March 1-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 7 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, April 1-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 8 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, May 1-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 9 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, June 1-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 10 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, July 1-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 11 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, August 1-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 12 Opal/Abe Medford to James Medford, September 1-30, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 13 Opal and Abe Medford to James Medford, October 1-31, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 14 Ms. (Betty) Sue Cox to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 15 Cpl. Jack Bennet to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 16 Mrs. Edna Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 17 J.W. and Kenneth Mitchell to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 18 Sgt. James Moore to Sgt. James Medford, March to April, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 19 Sgt. Bill Harizal to Sgt. James Medford, Oct. 1951-Oct. 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 20 Cousin Dorothy Dillon to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 21 Aunt Ellen King to Sgt. James Medford, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 22 Lilllian and Ray Bathes to Sgt. James Medford, Jan. to March 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 23 Aunt Ruth to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 24 Sgt. J. H. Mansbridge to Sgt. James Medford, March 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 25 Aunt Winnie to Sgt. James Medford, 1948-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 26 Cpl. Claude Dunn to Sgt. James Medford, June 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 27 Imagene Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 28 Cousins, Merkle and Billie to Sgt. James Medford, 1951-1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 29 "Thornton" to Sgt. James Medford, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 30 Pfc. John E. Sucher to Sgt. James Medford, October 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 31 Jeannie Thompson to Sgt. James Medford, 1952

Return to the Table of Contents




 
Box Folder
2 32 Mementos/artifacts/slides/clipping/anonymous letters/photos, Undated

Return to the Table of Contents