Papers, letters, and photographs of Mary Frances Switzer (1919-2005) of Florida who served as a World War II army nurse in France, Belgium, and Germany. After a pre-war nursing degree completed in New Orleans, Mary spent time training in military camps in the United States and England. The collection comprises letters written during the war by Mary to her parents while she was abroad, in which she describes life in army camps and combat zones, leisure activities while on break, and the places she visits. There are also letters from friends and relatives, the bulk of which comes from Mary's fiance, Allen Galer, from Michigan. Mary and Allen got engaged in September 1938, but separated when Mary decided to pursue her studies in New Orleans. They stayed in contact throughout the war. Allen, who served in the Philippines, writes about the ups and downs of their relationship and his wartime experience in the army and training for the air force. Mary's papers thus document life in the military during WWII, but also college life and courtship in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Furthermore, the collection contains more than 800 photographs taken by Mary while serving in Europe. They are arranged thematically according to their content. Photographs include numerous informal portraits of nurses and soldiers, landscapes and cityscapes, and many scenes captured in military camps and on the road with the army across Western Europe.
Also included in the collection are official military documents about Mary's assignments, ephemera from locations visited in Europe, and earlier letters exchanged among family members.