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William Halsey and Mary Price correspondence collection

Identifier: MS2268-UA

Scope and Contents

This collection contains more than 300 letters written between William Halsey and Mary "Polly" Price while William was a professor of Engineering at GW and Polly worked as a secretary in Swartmore, PA. The letters span the couple's relationship from William's initial courting, their engagement, and marriage. The letters range in date from 1916-1918 and provide insight into what life was like for young people in Swarthmore and GW and Washington, DC during those years. In their letters, William (referred to by Polly as Boot) and Polly (referred to by William as Bundle) discuss national events including World War I, the 1916 presidential election and inauguration, and prohibition. Boot discusses his engineering classes, campus athletic events, and life in Washington, DC.


  • Creation: 1916-1918

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

William (Bill) Darrach Halsey and Mary (Polly) Flagg Price were born on February 26, 1890 and May 19, 1895 respectively in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. They had known each other since childhood, as they attended the same school and Polly was best friend's with Bill's sister.

Bill graduated from Swarthmore College in 1912. In 1916, Polly graduated from a two year course at Drexel Institute (later Drexel University). In the fall of 1915, Bill accepted a teaching position as an instructor of mechanical engineering at The George Washington University. From 1915 until 1920, he taught courses in Thermodynamics, Mechanism, Mechanical Laboratory, Heating & Ventilating, Gas Engines, Steam Turbines, and Descriptive Geometry.

While Bill was in Washington, DC, Polly obtained a job as a companion and helper to Mrs. Hollis Godfrey, the wife of the President of Drexel. Bill and Polly were married in 1918.

In 1920, Bill accepted a position with the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company in Hartford, Connecticut where he lived until his death in 1948. Polly continued to live in Hartford after Bill's death until 1962 when she moved to Maine to live with her daughter. Polly died in 1985, four months before her 90th birthday.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 1 slim document box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains more than 300 letters sent between William Halsey and Mary Price from 1916-1918. Halsey was an engineering professor at GW and Price was a personal secretary in Swarthmore, PA. Throughout the time the letters were written, Halsey and Price dated, got engaged, and married. The letters provide insight into love and courtship in the early 20th century and discuss events like the 1916 presidential election and World War I.


Arranged chronologically with additional materials at the end of the collection.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mary Jane Small, April 2 2009, (2009.024)

Guide to the William Halsey and Mary Price correspondence collection, 1916-1918
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America