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Luther Nelson Collection



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description




Empty Envelope

Ephemera- General Orders

Ephemera- Richard Norton Tribute

Lithographic Print- "A Day in the American Ambulance"

Little Souvenirs of France


Newspapers (Clippings)

Ordre de Movement


Photographs and Negatives

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Luther Nelson Collection, 1916-1919 | Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs

By Ashley Levine

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Collection Overview

Title: Luther Nelson Collection, 1916-1919Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1916-1918

ID: RG1/051

Creator: Nelson, Luther

Extent: 0.25 Cubic Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Luther Nelson Collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Languages: English, French


Luther Nelson was an ambulance driver with the Paris Section of the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, and Section Sanitaire Americaine No. 5 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps in France during World War I.  The Luther Nelson Collection consists of correspondence, a diary, ephemera, newspapers, photographs and other material that documents his service with both the American Ambulance Hospital and the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps during World War I.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Luther Nelson Collection consists of correspondence, newspapers (including clippings), a diary, a lithographic print, ephemera, a passport, and photographs relating to Nelson’s service with the American Red Cross, American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, and Section Saitaire Americaine No. 5 (SSU 5) of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps.

The correspondence spans the years 1916-1917 and documents Nelson’s service in the war, including his brief time spent with the American Red Cross and his time spent driving an ambulance at the Verdun front.  Correspondents include family members (including his father, sister Selma, and brother Julius), the American Red Cross, and U.S. Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who wrote a letter of recommendation concerning Nelson’s qualifications to serve with the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris.

The clippings span the years 1916-1917, represent national publications (such as the New York Times) and local Minnesota periodicals (such as the Northfield News and the Murray County Herald), and consist of articles about Nelson, including published versions of  selected correspondence from Nelson to his family about Verdun.

Nelson’s unbound diary dates from September 1, 1916 to February 28, 1917, and provides his personal account of the Verdun front and his service as an ambulance driver with the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps.

Other material includes a lithographic print (entitled “A Day in the American Ambulance”),  a postcard, train ticket, an AFS “General Orders” broadside (all from 1916), a printed tribute to Richard Norton (August 4, 1918), and approximately 263 small photographic prints and two sleeved negatives that document Nelson’s service in SSU 5 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps (1916-1917).  The photographs depict landscapes, trenches, aerial views, SSU 5 ambulance drivers attending to the wounded, SSU 5 members posed in front of their ambulances, German prisoners of war, and the war-torn areas surrounding the Verdun front.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 box

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.  Cotton gloves are required for the handling of all photographic material.  Digital copies of the diary and most letters can be accessed through the online finding aid. Researchers must consult the digital copies first; permission to access originals items is required in advance. The newspapers are particularly fragile, and permission to access them is required by the AFS Archives in advance.

Use Restrictions: Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the AFS Archives. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Acquisition Method: The Luther Nelson Collection was donated to the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs by his daughter, Mrs. James Johnson, in 1959.

Appraisal Information: The published Norwegian version of Luther Nelson’s dairy, Omkring Verdun: En Norsk-Amerikansk Students Oplevelser Ambulancetjenesten (John Anderson Publishing Company, 1917), has been removed from this collection and added to the AFS Memorial Library. For information about accessing this book, please contact the AFS Archives.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], [Date]; Luther Nelson Collection; Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs, New York, NY.

Processing Information: This collection was partially processed by AFS Archives staff at an unknown date, and again by Ashley Levine in 2011. Finding aid written by Ashley in July 2011 and encoded in EAD in December 2012 by Nicole Milano. The finding aid was updated by Nicole Milano in March 2016.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Folder:

[Folder 1: Correspondence, May-December 1916],
[Folder 2: Correspondence, January-May 1917],
[Folder 3: Diary, September 1, 1916-February 28, 1917],
[Folder 4: Empty Envelope, 1919],
[Folder 5: Ephemera- General Orders, circa 1916],
[Folder 6: Ephemera- Richard Norton Tribute, August 4, 1918],
[Folder 7: Lithographic Print- "A Day in the American Ambulance", circa 1916],
[Folder 8: Little Souvenirs of France, 1918],
[Folder 9: Newspapers, 1916-1918],
[Folder 10: Newspapers (Clippings), 1916-1917],
[Folder 11: Ordre de Movement, December 18, 1916],
[Folder 12: Passport, 1916],
[Folder 13: Photographs and Negatives, 1916-1917],

Folder 9: Newspapers, 1916-1918Add to your cart.

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