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Carl and Laura White papers

Identifier: IWA0904

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Scope and Contents

The Carl and Laura White papers date from 1918 to 1993 and measure 2.5 linear feet. The bulk of the collection focuses on the years 1918 to 1919, when Carl White served in the army.

The majority of the General series consists of letters Carl White wrote to Laura Birgen during his army service, dating from June 1918 to July of 1919. He wrote frequently, whether in basic training or in France following the armistice. In his letters, he describes army life and outlines his hopes for his and Birgen’s future together. Although none of Birgen's letters are in the collection, White's letters often refer to or respond to events or anecdotes she shared with him.

The collection also includes family obituaries and newspaper clippings relating to both the Birgen and White families, prayer cards from northern Iowa churches, as well as a small collection of postcards, mostly from France. Shelved in the map case are two army newspapers: The Battery Buzzer (September 10, 1918), a newspaper published by soldiers in the United States; and The Gangplank News (April 12, 1919), a newspaper published by a United States embarkation camp in France.

The Artifacts series consists of a pair of uniform shorts; an army mess kit, which contains a tin plate, skillet, canteen, knife, fork, and spoon; a canvas bag marked Carl A. White; and a framed family portrait.


  • Creation: 1918-1993


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Carl White and Lorinda "Laura" Birgen were born near New Hampton, Iowa, in 1897 and 1898, respectively. They graduated from New Hampton High School in approcximately 1917. Carl White joined the American Expeditionary Force in the summer of 1918, and arrived in France a week before the armistice was signed. He spent the rest of his army service in St. Nazaire, France, where he worked on the administrative tasks necessary for demobilization. The two were married in 1920, and ultimately settled in Alta Vista, Iowa, where Carl White served as mayor from 1926 to 1968. They had two children, a daughter, Geneva, born in 1925, and a son, Roland, born in 1933. Laura White died in 1963; Carl White died in 1989.


2.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters to Iowa resident Laura Birgen from Carl White who served in the U.S. Army in France during and after World War I.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1349) were donated by Pearl White in 2013.

Catherine Babkimian
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)