TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biography of William H. Peterson

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1908-1987

Series 2: Occupation, 1893-1979

Series 3: Personal, 1892-2012

Series 4: Photographs, ca. 1891-1997

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Inventory of the William H. Peterson Papers, 1891-2012


The Newberry Library
Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610-7324
USA
Phone: 312-255-3506
Fax: 312-255-3646
E-Mail: specialcolls@newberry.org
URL: http://www.newberry.org

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Emma Reynolds, 2010.

©2010.


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Creator Peterson, William H. (William Hartin), 1921-2008
Title William H. Peterson Papers
Dates 1891-2012
Extent 2.6 linear feet (4 boxes, 1 oversize box)
Abstract Correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and personal material of William H. Peterson, a World War II radar man and later engineer for the Pullman Company. Includes Peterson's schoolwork, wartime letters, and engineering designs. There is additional material for the Peterson family, including William's father Hartin F. Peterson, also a Pullman employee, such as his World War I photographs and his own draft work. Collection also contains genealogy and photographs of the Swedish-American Peterson and Johnson families, as well as the Polish-American Hanley and Kotula families. There are also pictorial books and souvenirs from the 1893 and 1934 Chicago World’s Fairs.
Language Materials are in English and Swedish.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Peterson W
Collection Stack Location 1 27 2

Administrative Information

Cite As

William H. Peterson Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Gift, Karla G. Hanley, 2004, 2008.

Processed by

Emma Reynolds, 2010.

Acknowledgements

This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Access

The William H. Peterson Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The William H. Peterson Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

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Biography of William H. Peterson

Chicago engineer at the Pullman Company.

William Hartin Peterson was the first son of Hartin F. and Martha Johnson Peterson. Hartin was born in 1892 to Swedish parents who had immigrated to the United States and were employed at Pullman. Hartin served in the Navy during World War I and returned to become a draftsman at Pullman, working on the design of passenger car air-conditioning systems. In 1919, Hartin married fellow Pullman employee Martha Johnson, also a child of Swedish immigrants who worked for Pullman. Martha, born in 1895, was the third of Alfred and Elin Johnson’s seven surviving children. Martha was very devout and an active member in her church, while Hartin chose instead to affiliate with the Mason Brotherhood. Martha was a doting mother, as her wartime letters to William indicate.

Born in 1921, William showed an early interest in science, and after graduating high school he got a job at Pullman Car Works. In 1942, Peterson enlisted in the Navy where he served as a radar man on the U.S.S. Arkansas. The ship was deployed to the Atlantic and participated in the Normandy invasion and fighting off the coast of Cherbourg. After the war, Peterson married nurse Ingrid Nelson in 1946, with whom he had two daughters, and in 1947 completed an engineering degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Peterson returned to Pullman where he patented 60 designs during his career. In 1987 he received the Arnold Stucki Award for mechanical engineering in the field of railroad transportation. He died in Chicago in 2008.

Through the marriage of William's daughter Karla Hanley, the histories of her parents-in-law Robert Hanley and Genevieve Kotula Hanley are included in this collection. Robert, born in 1923, received the name Hanley from his Irish grandfather, and the rest of his family was of Polish descent. Robert was the oldest child of Walter Hanley and Helen Cybulski, both of whom grew up in poverty in the Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport. The Hanley family was hard-hit by the Depression, so Robert worked odd jobs while attending school and joined the Navy in 1942 as an electrician. His LST ship participated in the landings at Peleliu and Okinawa. Back home, Robert married Genevieve ("Gene") Kotula in 1946. Born in 1923 as the eighth of eleven children, Gene was also raised in a working-class Polish family in Bridgeport, where her father was employed by ACME Steel. Both Robert and Gene provide vivid details of their experiences in Bridgeport and during the war. Robert and Gene's son Scott married Karla Peterson in 1980.

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Scope and Content of the Collection

Contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, personal material, genealogical research, and photographs for William H. Peterson and the Peterson family, whose members were employed by the Pullman Company for several generations. Correspondence includes World War II letters detailing military and domestic life, correspondence ca. 1910 in Swedish to William H. Peterson's paternal grandmother, and a 1930 letter from Peterson’s uncle Waldemar describing in great detail the sudden death of his wife from spinal meningitis. Other material includes Pullman employee reviews and publications dating to 1893, pictorial books from Chicago’s 1893 and 1934 World’s Fairs, engineer designs for Pullman, and official documents like birth certificates. Photographs document a variety of subjects, such as World War I training, school and confirmation class photos, and early twentieth-century social events.

Additionally, William H. Peterson’s daughter, Karla Hanley, assembled booklets with the personal biographies and family histories of her father and both his parents, Hartin Peterson and Martha Johnson Peterson. She also wrote up biographies and genealogy for her husband’s parents, Robert Hanley and Genevieve Kotula Hanley. They are both of Polish descent and grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the Organization section of the finding aid.

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Organization

Papers are organized in the following series:

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Selected Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Newberry Library's public catalog. Researchers desiring additional materials on a particular topic should search the catalog using these headings.

Names

  • Hanley family
  • Johnson family
  • Kotula family
  • Peterson family
  • Peterson, William H. (William Hartin), 1921-2008
  • Pullman Company -- Employees

Subjects

  • Bridgeport (Chicago, Ill.) -- History -- 20th century
  • Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.) -- Pictorial works
  • Correspondence -- 1901-1950
  • Correspondence -- 1951-2000
  • Engineers -- United States
  • Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Photographs -- 1851-1900
  • Photographs -- 1901-1950
  • Photographs -- 1951-2000
  • Pullman (Chicago, Ill.) -- History -- 20th century
  • Soldiers -- Illinois -- Correspondence
  • Soldiers' writings, American
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- United States
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- France -- Normandy
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Pacific Ocean -- Naval operations, American
  • World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.) -- Pictorial works

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1908-1987

Most of the correspondence pertains to World War II, with frequent letters from William H. Peterson to his parents, concerned letters from Martha Peterson to William as well as a letter from her sister in Canada, and two letters to William from Chicago friends also in the service. Additional correspondence includes postcards ca. 1910 in Swedish to Vendla Peterson and a 1930 letter from Waldemar Johnson upon the sudden death of his wife.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Miscellaneous, 1930-1975
1 2 Peterson, Hartin, 1936-1961
1 3 Peterson, Martha Johnson, 1943-1951
1 4 Peterson, Vendla (in Swedish), 1908-1926
1 5 Peterson, William H., 1935-1987

Series 2: Occupation, 1893-1979

Contains engineering designs by William H. Peterson as well as employment applications and career history. Also a paper by Hartin Peterson and three coworkers on humidity control, and several of Hartin's design drafts with advice to William on different projects. Additional material includes Pullman employee publications, such as an 1893 copy of the Pullman journal, several editions of the Pullman Car Works Standard including reviews of the Pullman minstrel shows, and the Pullman News during World War II.
Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Box Folder Contents
1 6 Mechanical designs and employment history of William H. Peterson, 1948-1965
1 7 Mechanical designs and paper by Hartin Peterson, ca. 1957-1961
1 8 Pullman Company publications, 1893-1979

Series 3: Personal, 1892-2012

Contains the biographies and family history of William H. Peterson, Hartin Peterson, Martha Johnson Peterson, Robert Hanley, and Genevieve Kotula Hanley. Also official documents like birth and death certificates, Hartin Peterson's World War I papers, and World War II material like ration books, car registrations, and the service flag Martha Peterson made for William. Additional material includes William H. Peterson's schoolwork, Hartin Peterson's secret society documents, newspaper clippings about Peterson family members and the Pullman Company, and pictorial books from Chicago's 1893 and 1934 world's fairs.
Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Box Folder Contents
1 9 Biography and family history booklet for Genevieve Kotula Hanley (includes CD-RW), 2008
1 10 Biography and family history booklet for Hartin Peterson, 2004
1 10a Biography and family history booklet for Ingrid Evelina Nelson Peterson, 2012
1 11 Biography and family history booklet for Martha Johnson Peterson, 2004
1 12 Biography and family history booklet for Robert Hanley (includes CD-RW), 2008
1 13 Biography and family history booklet for William H. Peterson, 2004
1 14 A Century of Progress booklets and postcards, 1933
1 15 Church material, 1930-1957
1 16 Columbia Exposition souvenir photograph book, 1893-1894
2 17 Hartin Peterson (includes material for secret societies), 1919-1972
2 18 Martha Johnson Peterson (see oversize for 1909 confirmation certificate), no date
2 19 Music performance programs, 1913-1939
2 20 Newspaper clippings miscellaneous, 1936-1968
2 21 Newspaper clippings of obituaries and announcements, 1930-1972
2 22 Newspaper clippings for Pullman Company (see oversize for 1938 Fortune magazine article), 1917-1990
2 23 Newspaper clippings for World War II, 1943-1945
2 24 Official documents/identification cards, 1892-1977
2 25 Programs for Peterson family events (including graduations, weddings, and memorial services), 1909-1977
2 26 William H. Peterson memorabilia (see oversize for 1944 U.S.S. Arkansas commemorative book), no date
2 27 William H. Peterson pencil drawings, ca. 1935-1963
2 28 William H. Peterson schoolwork, ca. 1930-1939
2 29 William H. Peterson handmade school workbooks, ca. 1930-1939
3 30 World War I material for Hartin Peterson, 1916-1919
3 31 World War II material for Peterson family, 1942-1946

Series 4: Photographs, ca. 1891-1997

Photographs depict a variety of topics, including social activities in the early twentieth-century like picnics and parties, individual and family portraits of the Petersons and Johnsons, school and confirmation classes, Hartin Peterson's World War I experience, William H. Peterson's baby book, and a Pullman photo album souvenir book.
Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Box Folder Contents
3 32 Alfred and Elin Johnson, ca. 1891-1941
3 33 Hartin Peterson, ca. 1892-1969
3 34 Johnson children, ca. 1892-1975
3 35 Martha Johnson Peterson (see oversize for confirmation and school class photos 1909), ca. 1895-1968
4 36 Miscellaneous, ca. 1893-1960
4 37 Miscellaneous album pages, see oversize, ca. 1909
4 38 Miscellaneous Peterson family members, ca. 1891-1997
4 39 Peterson family houses and property, ca. 1899-1967
4 40 Photo album for Hartin and Martha Peterson, ca. 1915-1925
4 41 Pullman Company photo album, no date
4 42 William H. Peterson baby book, 1921
4 43 William H. Peterson, ca. 1921-1984