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Letters of Forrest W. Bassett (Company A, 6th Field Battalion, U.S. Signal Corps), while in training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Call Number: RH MS 612


This collection consists of eighty-one letters and two postcards written from July 1917 to May 1918 by U.S. Army Signal Corpsman Forrest W. Bassett of Beloit, Wisconsin, while stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Most of Bassett's letters are to Ava Marie Shaw of Beloit, to whom he writes of his affection and of his drills and training for World War I military service as a radio operator.


  • Creation: 1917 - 1918


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Biography of Forrest W. Bassett and Ava Marie Shaw

Forrest W. Bassett was born at Beloit (Rock County), Wisconsin on December 1, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917, he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps' 6th Field Battalion. In late May of 1918, Bassett was posted to Camp Wadsworth at Spartanburg, South Carolina, awaiting overseas transfer for World War I military duty.

Bassett shipped to Europe for duty in July 1918 and returned to the United States in June 1919. He spent 40 years at the Yates-American Machine Company and, after retiring from there, he worked an additional 10 years in the credit department at Dane Aluminum Company.

Ava Marie Shaw, to whom Bassett was writing in this collection, was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 11, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago, and by 1917 they had moved to Wisconsin, where Shaw's family was from, including where her three older siblings were born.

Ava Marie, or Marie, worked as a secretary at several different companies and for the Second Congregational Church in Beloit; she was also a teacher of speech and oral interpretation for several years. A gifted actress and singer, she was a founding member of the Beloit Civic Theatre and a former president of the group Treble Clef.

Bassett and Shaw married on March 6, 1920 in Beloit, Wisconsin. They had two children: Sally Ann and Terrence Shaw. Forrest W. Bassett died on August 3, 1985, and Marie (Shaw) Bassett died on October 8, 1992.


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

These eighty-one letters and two postcards, written by U.S. Signal Corpsman Forrest W. Bassett while stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are dated July 1917 to May 1918. Most of Bassett's letters (all addressed to his home town of Beloit, Wisconsin) are written to fifteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw, but also include letters to Blanche (Mrs. A. L.) Poquette and three letters to Bassett's mother. The letters are addressed in various ways, both on the envelope and in Bassett's salutation to his correspondent; the finding aid has been simplified and uses only each correspondent's first name. Letters directed to Ava Marie Shaw may be addressed as "Marie," "Miss Ava Marie Shaw," or "Little Girl"; items addressed to "Mrs. A.L. Poquette" may also be sent to "Blanche"; and letters directed to Bassett's mother are addressed "Mrs. D.F. Bassett" and "Mother."

Bassett writes of his affection for Miss Shaw, and also of his military drills and activities at Fort Leavenworth while in training for World War I military service as a radio operator. Postmarked envelopes accompany most of the letters. Accompanying one letter is a photograph by Bassett of fellow soldiers on horseback.


Letter arrangement is chronological.

Physical Location

RH MS 612

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Charles Apfelbaum, 1996

Existence and Location of Copies

Digitized copies and transcriptions of the letters are available on the Kenneth Spencer Research Library's blog "Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog." Perform a search on the name "Bassett" to find all entries related to the collection.

Guide to the Forrest W. Bassett Collection
Letters of Forrest W. Bassett (Company A, 6th Field Battalion, U.S. Signal Corps), while in training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2005. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2005. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2019; mwh and ew, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Forrest W. Bassett letters, Kansas Collection, RH MS 612, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States