H. Randolph Holder Family Papers and the Longest Letter Ever Written

June 11, 2014 – 1:43 PM

The Hargrett Library is pleased to announce that the H. Randolph Holder family papers, ms 3821, are open for research.

Howard Randolph Holder (1916-2002) was born in Moline, Illinois to James William and Charlotte Brega Holder. He served in World War II in Co. E, 1st Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division. He was captured February 15, 1943 in North Africa and held in prison camp Oflag 64 (Szubin, Poland) until January 1945. He married Clementi Lacey-Baker of Louisville, Kentucky in 1942 and they had four children. They moved to Athens, Georgia in 1948 where Holder was a radio announcer, news director, and part owner of Clarke Broadcasting Corporation.

This collection consists of biographical information, correspondence, writings, photographs, printed material and scrapbooks. There is much correspondence between “Howie” Holder and his wife and family during World War II. One group of letters from Clementi to her husband while he was a POW were found in the prison camp 40 years after the war and returned to them. In 1995, Holder wrote a book about his POW experiences titled Escape to Russia.

Of special interest are letters between Clementi Lacey-Baker and Anton Frederik van Dam (1920-1976) in the Netherlands. They were both 18 years old in 1938 when they began a pen pal relationship. They continued to be friends until his death in 1976. One of his letters was listed in the 1972 Guinness Book of World Records as the longest letter ever written. It was begun in 1940 and ended in 1945, and gave details about the German invasion of his country and the effect on his family. Years later Clementi transcribed this 514 page letter and titled it “Dear Clem.”

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library is open for research Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, with the exception of University holidays. For more information, please visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/scl or call (706) 542-7123.

 

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