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Towle Family papers, ca. 1900's-1950's

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Author

Karin Strohbeck

Title

Towle Family papers

Date

ca. 1900's-1950's

Repository

University Archives and Records CenterLouisville, Kentucky 40292

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to researchers

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], Towle Family Papers, ca. 1900's-1950's, University Archives and Records Center, University of Louisville, Louisville.

Biography/History

1871 Ralph Towle born
1915 Virginia Towle attends Sweet Briar College in Virginia
1923 Ralph runs for alderman in Louisville and wins
1937 Virgina employed as an administrative secretary to the Psychiatric Department at Louisville General Hospital
1939 Helen Towle, wife of Ralph and Virginia's mother, becomes ill and admitted to Lakeland Hospital
1941 Helen Towle dies
1942 Virginia applies for admission to the WAVES during World War II
1943 Virginia rejected for WAVES program
1943 Virginia accepted into the WACS program
1946 Virginia mustered out of WACS program from Fort Beale, California and returns to Louisville
1957 Ralph Towle dies; he is survived by Virginia and two nephews

Scope and Content

The Towle family papers span the years from the early 1900's to the 1950's. Material is sparse from 1912 to 1939 and from 1943 to 1952.

The papers are enclosed in thirteen different folders and arranged chronologically with the exception of the last four folders which consisted of business records and correspondence. Although Mr. Towle was prominent as an alderman and realtor in Louisville, the boxed contents deal little with this aspect of his life. The papers give more insight into Virginia's personal life via her friends' letters.

The material consists almost entirely of correspondence between Virginia and her friends and Mr. Towle, and Mr. Towle business friend Mr. Paul Whitcomb. This correspondence encompasses handwritten and typed letters, both on onion paper and letterheads, envelopes, election returns for Towle 1923 aldermanic race in Louisville plus his certificate, Virginia's application for admittance into WAVES, blank WAVE aptitude test, newspaper clippings of family, photos glued on cardboard. The collection also consists of three prospectus' for American Oil Company, completed and blank mortgage company papers, deeds of sale in the Louisville area, hand drawn onion skin map of a block of Louisville between 4th and 5th Streets, various statement of tenants, purchase applications, decrees, contract of agency, and several distributions of commissions.

The collection, as stated before, lends a good deal of its strength to the personal side of Virginia. This is especially true concerning correspondence with her friends between the years of 1939 to 1943. The material loses some strength with Mr. Towle part of the collection. Little is learned about his personal and business nature. Although he appears to be a thorough real estate agent, via his letters with Mr. Whitcomb, many of the examples of his realtor work is a smattering of odds and ends of miscellaneous business records.

The Towle's family papers focus primarily on two members of the family, Ralph Towle and his daughter Virginia Towle. The collection covers the years from the early 1900's to the 1950's. Mr. Towles' papers consist of his real estate transactions in Louisville spanning the years between the 1920's and the 1940's. This includes land sales, deeds, and title insurance papers. Also Mr. Towle was a Republican alderman in the 1920's. However, there is little material available in this collection during that time of his life. The contents also include Mr. Towles' personal correspondence with his daughter over many years, but especially during World War II. The letters reflect an odd mixture of a father's love and a businessman toward Virginia.

Virginia's personal correspondence with her father and friends is the primary source of information about her life. Especially revealing is her struggle to become a WAVE during World War II and the support she received from her friends.

The provenance of the Towle material dealt with chronological and subject-matter catagories. The entire collection is housed in 0.5 linear feet.

The first series of the Towle papers (folders 1 thru 9) were based primarily on personal correspondence. This series spans the years from 1915 to 1954. However, the first folder, untitled, does include some newspaper clippings about Virginia and Mr. Towles' obituary.

The second folder, "Sweet Briar ca 1915," includes letters from Virginia to her family from her college days in Virginia and an invitation from a campus organization.

Folder three contains Mr. Towle "Certificate of Election" (thus titled) as alderman in 1923. Also the vote count of the election returns for park commissioner, alderman, and councilman for Louisville in 1923.

The next folder, "1939-1941," begins the real correspondence that Virginia enjoyed most of her life. It included letters from older family friends and from her personal friends. Much of the mail centered on Mrs. Towle illness and death and the circumstances surrounding it.

"Virginia Towles' Effort to join WAVES" was self explanatory. Letters of recommendations from friends and employers and why she was turned down by the WAVES are included. A pleading letter on Virginia's part to House Representative O'Neal to ask for help in persuading the Navy to reconsider its decision. This is an exceptionally good group of papers in that the recommendations often list Virginia's personal and aptitudinal abilities and fill in the time gaps in her life.

Folder six, "1942," is primarily concerned with personal correspondence between Virginia and Dr. Keller ("God") and Paul Jones.

"1943" includes letters between Virginia and Lil Le Blanc, not heard from since folder four, discussing their mutual friends in the armed forces. "God" also writes as does "Butch" (Lt. Hagan) a girlfriend of Virginia's. The highlight of this folder comes via the letters by her father to Virginia after she joins the WACS and is stationed away from Louisville. This was a rare chance to see Mr. Towle personal nature and genuine love for his daughter.

The eighth folder, "1949; 1952-54," was a brief one that contained two community-oriented letters by Virginia and two by her father.

"Undated" number nine includes a small photo of an unidentified little girl in a Christmas note, and letters from Dr. Keller and Paul Adams again. The material also has a long (8 page) partial letter from an unnamed source. The ink is quite blurry and illegible in some parts. However, it is personally suspected to be Mr. Towle handwriting.

The second series (folders 10 thru 13) was primarily business correspondence and official papers concerning Mr. Towle real estate transactions. They span the years from 1919 to 1950. Small folder number ten, "American Oil Company 1919" includes three prospectus' from the above company.

The next one, "Miscellaneous Business Records," covers the years from 1927 to 1948. It contains official real estate sales, purchase deeds, title papers, mortgage papers, rent correspondence, and statement of tenants all in the Louisville area and in conjunction with Towle Realty Company.

"Whitcomb Correspondence 1940-1950," number twelve, is self explanatory. Mr. Paul Whitcomb, another realtor, had an extensive exchange of both personal and business letters with Mr. Towle.

The last folder, "Agent for Felsmere Farm," is primarily concerned with real estate action by Mr. Towle in the early 1900's (1909-1912). The farm was in Chattanooga, TN and the material covered purchase applications, a copy of a decree, one ledger page (1912), letters, distributions of commissions, and contracts of agency.

Collection Inventory

Series I
(untitled)
[folder: 1]
Sweet Briar, ca 1915
[folder: 2]
R.S. Towle Certificate of Election
[folder: 3]
1939-1941
[folder: 4]
Virginia Towles' Effort to Join WAVES
[folder: 5]
1942
[folder: 6]
1943
[folder: 7]
1949; 1952-54
[folder: 8]
Undated
[folder: 9]
Series II
American Oil Company, 1919
[folder: 10]
Miscellaneous Business Records
[folder: 11]
Whitcomb Correspondence, 1940-1950
[folder: 12]
Agent for Felsmere Farm
[folder: 13]

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