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Shumway-Kummerwold letters

Identifier: RHC-113

Scope and Contents

297 letters, postcards, and greeting cards for the most part sent and received by members of the Shumway and Kummerwold families of Duluth, Minnesota. These date from July 1940 to early 1946, with a smaller grouping from 1953 to 1954. Most are postmarked Duluth, Minnesota; some contain newspaper and magazine clippings and photographs.

The 80 letters sent to Robert Shumway from his parents Claude and Luella relate details of life at home and frequent news of relatives, friends, social activities, advice about marriage, health and illnesses, shopping and shortages on the home front. There are references to deaths and combat injuries among Robert's school friends and other acquaintances. The final nine of these date from 1954 and relate to the relocation of Robert and June to their new home in upstate New York.

The 65 letters sent to Robert Shumway from his fiancée (and subsequent spouse), June Kummerwold, similarly mention life at home, work, mutual friends and schoolmates, wedding plans, and from June 1945 her pregnancy. In the letter of 20 July 1945 she enclosed a letter she received from her brother John A. Kummerwold who was aboard ship in the Navy.

The 55 letters Robert wrote to his parents begin shortly after his enlistment in the U.S. Army in March 1943 and end in July 1944 shortly after he was stationed in Brigham City, Utah. They give details of army life, training, day-to-day activities, transfer to the Army Air Corps, furloughs, and arrangements for his wife June to join him in Utah.


  • 1940-1954
  • Majority of material found within 1943-1946


Access to Materials

This collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is the physical property of Grand Valley State University, but all literary rights are retained by the original creators of materials, their estates, heirs, or third parties. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure appropriate permissions for publication beyond the bounds of fair use.

Biographical Notes

Robert Alan Shumway, Sr. was born on 22 November 1923 in Duluth, Minnesota. His parents were Claude Bryan Shumway (1896-1983) and Luella Grace Buck Shumway (1895-1973); he had one brother, Joseph Stephen (1920-1922). In 1940 the family lived at 4711 Tioga Street in Duluth. Claude, born and raised in Iowa, was a welder for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Robert Shumway allegedly graduated from Duluth Central High School, but his name does not appear in the class rosters between 1939 and 1942. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 10 March 1943 and was sent to Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas for infantry training and by August 1943 he was assigned to the 413th Training Group in Miami, Florida. At some point he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps. In September 1943 he was stationed at St. Cloud State Teachers College in St. Cloud, Minnesota, undergoing training with the 72nd College Training Detachment (Air Crew) and in November 1943 underwent an appendectomy at the station hospital at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. While on leave he married June Elizabeth Kummerwold on 25 December 1943; it is likely that they met in high school. In early 1944 he was stationed in Santa Ana, California, and then in Monterey, California. At this time an unspecified medical issue seems to have disqualified him for any air crew placement, and by early May 1944 he had been reassigned to Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City, Utah. It appears that he was receiving medical training of some type. Between 15 January and 8 February 1946 he was promoted to Corporal. He was discharged from the service on 1 April 1946.

After his discharge Robert began premedical education, but due to the death of his brother-in-law, John A. Kummerwold in October 1946, he returned to Duluth to assist his father-in-law in the latter's plumbing business. Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Robert rejoined the Air Force and served in Korea as a hospital administrator. He was later stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, and he and his family moved permanently to Verona, New York in 1955 at the termination of his duty with the Air Force. He died on 28 November 1993.

June Elizabeth Kummerwold was born in Duluth, Minnesota on 20 February 1924. Her parents were John Ferdinand (1893-1979) who emigrated from Norway in 1911, and Lily Elizabeth Nyberg Kummerwold (1902-1951) of Swedish descent. She had a brother, John Adolph (1922-1946) who served as a ship fitter in the U.S. Naval Reserve; and two sisters, Gladys Irene (born 1923), and Ingeborg Lucille (born 1925). June graduated from Duluth Central High School in June 1942, and worked as a clerk at the Duluth Milk Co. She married Robert A. Shumway in December 1943 and in late June 1944 she was able to join him in Brigham City, Utah where he was attached to Bushnell General Hospital.

At the end of May 1945 she had returned to her parents' house in Duluth where she was expecting their first child. June and Robert had three children: Robert A. Shumway, Jr. (1945-1983), Thomas Raymond (born 1947), and Claude Dennis (born 1949). All three served in the U.S Air Force. June Shumway died in Verona, New York on 30 May 2013. She is buried in Oneota Cemetery, Duluth, Minnesota with her parents, her husband, and her eldest son.


0.84 Linear feet (2 boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased piecemeal in at least six separate online auctions from a dealer in Irvine, California between January and March 2017. The dealer inexplicably broke the collection into many lots, and it is unfortunate that not all lots were acquired.
Shumway-Kummerwold letters, RHC-113
Robert Beasecker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States