Southern Methodist University

Opie Stanfield papers

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: Stanfield, Opie M., 1912-1972
Title: Opie Stanfield papers
Dates: 1941-1956
Abstract: The collection illustrates the life and times of a United States Army soldier stationed in Europe in the latter half of World War II who worked in the office of a U.S. Army chaplain. Opie M. Stanfield was the son of rural Arkansas farmers. He served in the United States Army in England and France during 1944 and part of 1945. At the time of his discharge in 1945, Stanfield was a sergeant. It is apparent through the reading of his personal correspondence that he was bisexual or homosexual. The collection primarily consists of correspondence with family and friends as well as some photographs and ephemera. Correspondents include Loue Stanfield, Irene Campbell, Carolyn Hackman, Evelyn Toso, and Chaplain Albert A. Behnke.
Accession No: MSS 92
Extent: 4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Opie M. Stanfield was born on May 31, 1912 in Delaware, Arkansas to Loue and Jesse Morris Stanfield, who were rural farmers. He was a graduate of Harding College in Arkansas and was a schoolteacher in Arkansas.

Stanfield joined the Army in 1942. He was stationed in Europe for all of 1944 and more than half of 1945, before returning home in September 1945. While overseas, Stanfield served in various U.S. Army Chaplains’ offices. He was primarily stationed in Oxford, England and Paris, France.

Upon his return, Stanfield was hospitalized in Army hospitals in Charleston, South Carolina and Santa Ana, California for exhaustion and kidney trouble. The duration of his stay in these hospitals was several months.

Upon returning from Europe in 1945, Opie left his mother’s farm and lived in Louisiana, Dallas, and Los Angeles, among other places. The records end in 1956. He is buried in Elizabeth Hall Cemetery in Logan County, Arkansas.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Correspondence between Stanfield and his mother, Loue, accounts for more than half of the collection. The bulk of their correspondence is from 1944, when Stanfield was stationed in Great Britain and France. Additionally, there is a significant amount of correspondence between Stanfield and various acquaintances and family members.

Of particular note are "V-Mails.""V-Mails" were regular letters (either hand-written or typed and either from soldiers or to soldiers) that were then photocopied and downsized to the size of roughly a 3x3 card. Because the "V-Mails" are so different in size, they are filed separately from the letters.

Also included is Stanfield’s photograph album. The vast majority of the photographs are from Stanfield’s time overseas. Roughly half were taken by Stanfield, and the other half feature Stanfield or his army buddies. Additionally, there are three folders of various ephemera, including Army pay information, Stanfield’s power-of-attorney, and Social Security information.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into four series:
Series I: Stanfield’s Letters to Loue Stanfield (mother), 1942-1945
Series II: Letters from Loue Stanfield and Irene Campbell (sister) and "V-Mails," 1944-1945
Series III: Stanfield’s Personal Correspondence, 1943-1957
Series IV: Ephemera, Photographs, and Envelopes


Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Stanfield, Opie, 1912-1972 --Correspondence.
United States. Army--Correspondence.
Soldiers--United States--Correspondence.
Gay men--United States--History--20th Century
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945--Europe
United States--Armed Forces--Gays--History--20th century.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Opie Stanfield papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2002.

Processing Information

The papers of Opie M. Stanfield were boxed in manila folders and envelopes, loosely categorized by date. During their processing, the collection was divided into separate files for personal correspondence (with friends, family, and Stanfield’s mother separated), "V-Mail," ephemera, and photographs. Folded documents were flattened, and the papers were arranged chronologically by year, placed in acid-free folders, and stored in acid-free boxes.

Processed by

Parker Hevron, 2005

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2005

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Stanfield’s Letters to Loue Stanfield, 1942-1945
0.5 boxes

This series contains correspondence from Opie to Loue Stanfield, his mother. The letters begin after Opie leaves for basic training in 1942 and end when he returns home to Arkansas from an Army convalescent hospital in Santa Ana, California in 1945. Throughout the duration of the letter writing, Loue was living on the Stanfield farm in Delaware, Arkansas, apparently by herself. The correspondence often revolved around Opie’s activities and the state of the farm.
Box Folder
1 1 Letters to Loue Stanfield, October-December, 1942
2 Letters to Loue Stanfield, 1943
3 Letters to Loue Stanfield, January-June, 1944
4 Letters to Loue Stanfield, June-December, 1944
5 Letters to Loue Stanfield, January-July, 1945
6 Letters to Loue Stanfield, July-October, 1945

Series II: Letters to Opie Stanfield from Loue Stanfield and Irene Campbell (sister) and "V-Mails," 1944-1945
0.5 boxes

This series contains letters written to Opie from Loue Stanfield and Irene Campbell, who was Opie’s sister and lived in Los Angeles, California throughout the war. Additionally, this series contains "V-Mails," which were sent both from and to Opie.
Box Folder
1 7 Letters from Loue Stanfield and Irene Campbell, 1944
8 Letters from Loue Stanfield and Irene Campbell, 1945
9 "V-Mails," January-March, 1944
10 "V-Mails," March-December, 1944

Series III: Stanfield’s Personal Correspondence, 1943-1957
1 box

This series contains correspondence between Opie and various friends, acquaintances and relatives. It is composed of two boxes worth of folders and is sorted by author and then chronologically by date.
Box Folder
2 1 Personal Correspondence, 1943
2 Personal Correspondence, 1944
3 Personal Correspondence, 1944
4 Personal Correspondence, 1944
5 Personal Correspondence, 1944
6 Personal Correspondence, 1945
7 Personal Correspondence, 1945
8 Personal Correspondence, 1946
9 Personal Correspondence, 1947-1956
This box consists of letters from the following (last names are provided when possible):
Year – Folder number
Author (number of letters), dates of correspondence
1943 – Folder 1
Various people, various dates
1944 – Folders 1 and 2
Vernon Toso (2), 8/1-8/31
Carolyn Hackman (21), 2/1-12/31
Philip A. Urman (3), 4/5-7/25
Norma Aleane (1), 1/31
Cliff (1), 3/5
"Tubby" (2), 2/25-7/7
Mabel (1), 1/8
Lucy Banks (1), 1/8
Ken Ginham (7), 10/3-12/18
Belva Roulston (2), 7/9-8/11
Bill and Mill Furnam (7), 1/15-12/14
R.H. Taft (1), 5/8
Charles Slack (1), 9/11
Richard (1), 8/14
J.H. Hawk (1), 10/2
Rev. A.H. Ochoa (2), 7/30-9/23
S.F. Marowski (1), 1/24
Evelyn Toso (7), 3/21-undated
1944 – Folders 3 and 4
Gates Lewis (1), 2/8
Roger Wilson (9), 2/8-12/7
Ruby Lea Marshall (2), 3/25-8/27
Mary B. Keys (4), 1/21-7/9
Estelle (1), 1/26
Bentley Furnam (2), undated-4/2
Hazel (2), 1/18-3/22
Clarence J. Marshall (9), 2/4-12/25
Chaplain Behnke (1), 2/28
Carol Behnke (1), 12/1
Gretchen (17), 2/21-12/29
C.P. Smales (1), 1/20
1945 – Folders 1 and 2
"Corn Fed" Dink (1), 8/19
Cliff (2), 8/20-11/2
Rev. A.H. Ochoa (1), 12/20
Bentley Furnam (1), undated
"Tubby" (1), 1/18
Clarence J. Marshall (3), 1/16-7/4
Carolyn Hackman (2), 3/31-5/14
Roger Wilson (2), 7/21-12/2
Louise (2), 2/27-9/7
Jack Decker (1), 11/26
Barry (4), undated-undated
Paul (1), 9/10
Bill and Mill Furna (1), 9/10
Mary B. (1), 10/7
Ken Ginham (9), undated
Mimi Dario (1), 1/10
Evelyn Toso (11), 1/25-12/26
1946-1956 – Folder 1
Various people, various dates

Series IV: Ephemera, Photographs, and Envelopes
2 boxes

This series contains various personal records of Opie’s, which are primarily military in nature. Additionally, the series contains several folders of ephemera, which include greeting cards, newspaper clippings, church programs, etc. Of particular note are dried flower petals sent to Opie from an admirer.
Also included is a blue, leather-bound photograph album of Opie’s. It includes many snapshots taken by Opie and his friend, Mike. None of the photos contain any scenes of combat; instead, most are of European buildings and the surrounding countryside. Moreover, there are several folders worth of loose photographs, which are sorted according to whether Opie is present in the picture. Many of the photographs have hand-written description on their backs.
Also included in this series is a box full of the envelopes in which the vast majority of the collection was found originally. Of particular note are the "V-Mail" envelopes and the envelopes from Ken (A.V.K.) Ginham that used British stamps. The envelopes are in no particular order.
Box Folder
3 1 Ephemera, undated
2 Personal Records, 1912-undated
3 Military Records and Orders, 1944-1945
4 Personal Correspondence, undated
Leather-bound Bible
Photograph Album
5 Loose Photos of Acquaintances, Europe, undated
6 Loose Photos of Europe, undated
7 Loose Photos that include Opie, undated
4 Envelopes, various, undated