Charlotte D. Mansfield collection, 1915-2017, bulk 1942-1957
- Charlotte Mansfield enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (W.A.A.C.) in 1942 to pursue work in photograph processing for the military. She was part of the first all-women graduating class from Lowry Field Photo School in Colorado, where she was trained to be a photo technician that developed primarily aerial shots in photography labs. Mansfield was stationed at various locations throughout the United States before being transferred to lab work overseas in England and Germany. By this time, W.A.A.C. had transitioned to Women's Army Corps (W.A.C.). Throughout her military service, Mansfield took numerous personal photographs that featured her friends and surroundings. They provide an unparalleled amount of insight into the private lives of W.A.C.s as they negotiated what it meant to serve in World War II. Mansfield reenlisted after the war, eventually becoming part of the Women in the Air Force (W.A.F.), and retired in 1973. Photography remained her passion until her death in 2007.
- 13 boxes, 1 items, and 1 camera case
- English .
- Preferred citation:
- Mansfield, Charlotte D., collection. The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. http://purl.fcla.edu/fsu/WWII_08_0158.
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
This collection is open to all researchers.
Permission to publish, exhibit, or broadcast works from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience must be requested and granted in writing by the director of the Institute. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Institute on World War II as the owner of the physical items and the copyright holder. Possession of a copy of an item does not constitute permission to publish, exhibit, or broadcast it. The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience reserves the right to refuse permission to individuals and publishers who have not complied with its policies. Permission fees must be paid before images are provided. Please contact the director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience for current publication and duplication rates.Permission to publish, exhibit, or broadcast works from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience must be requested and granted in writing by the director of the Institute. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Institute on World War II as the owner of the physical items and the copyright holder. Possession of a copy of an item does not constitute permission to publish, exhibit, or broadcast it. The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience reserves the right to refuse permission to individuals and publishers who have not complied with its policies. Permission fees must be paid before images are provided. Please contact the director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience for current publication and duplication rates.
- Scope and Content:
This collection relates to Charlotte D. Mansfield who served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II in the European Theater as a photographer and photograph processor. She subsequently retired from the U.S. Air Force. This collection contains documents, photographs, scrapbooks, and artifacts. The documents include personal correspondence, military records, newspaper clippings, newsletters, magazines, and certificates for military service. Various military medals and patches, mugs from U.S. Air Force service, and Graflex 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera make up the artifacts. There are eight scrapbooks that Mansfield assembled documenting her military service, primarily overseas, both during World War II and after. Photographs make up the majority of the collection, with one box of loose photographs in separate folders and five archival scrapbooks filled with pictures. There are also four enlarged portraits of Mansfield.
- Biographical / Historical:
Early Life- Charlotte Dee Mansfield was born in Hanford, CA, August 31, 1915, and moved to Oklahoma when she was eight years old. She had been an avid photographer ever since her father took her to the darkroom of an old Army buddy, and she saw strips of film hanging on a line. She graduated from Garber High School in 1934, and then went on to Tonkawa College before receiving her Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1941. Mansfield was a reporter, writer, and editor for the college newspaper, which demonstrated how her fascination for photography followed her throughout her educational years. It was an article in Popular Photography Magazine about British military women photographers and their work in aerial photography that inspired her to enlist in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (W.A.A.C.) when World War II began. World War II Service- Mansfield enlisted as a W.A.A.C. on October 17, 1942. She attended basic training at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa until February 1943 and then transferred to Lowry Field Photo School in Denver, Colorado. She was one of fifty who made up the first all-women class to be trained as aerial photo technicians. The women did better academically than the men who doubted them, as well as handled the cameras and darkroom work well. After graduating in April 1943, Mansfield went to Felts Field in Spokane, Washington for further training. While there, W.A.A.C. was converted to full status as a branch of the United States Army and became the Women's Army Corps (W.A.C.) in July 1943. Mansfield was also stationed at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia before being assigned overseas work in May 1944. Throughout her service, Mansfield kept her Graflex 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera and a supply of personal film provided by her father, who was incredibly supportive of her photographic endeavors throughout her life. She used these to document her experience at each location in the states, photographing her friends and surroundings. The pictures Mansfield took feature the women training, completing their work, and socializing.
Mansfield was assigned to the 8th Air Force under James Doolittle stationed in High Wycombe, England. The codename for the camp was "Pinetree," with Mansfield interchanging between the two location names in documents and on her pictures. The majority of the correspondence in the collection is from her time in England, where she described to her parents her visit to London and conditions at the camp. Food was a common topic for Mansfield, as well as conditions in the lab. Mansfield continued to take personal photographs, documenting the English countryside and life in the military huts where the women were housed. She celebrated Victory in Europe Day at this station, and there are numerous pictures of the service members rejoicing. Though the war on the western front was over, Mansfield stated in a letter to her parents that W.A.C.s were essential for the army of occupation and were scheduled to transfer to Germany.
Mansfield was then transferred to the 9th Air Force stationed in Bad Kissingen, Germany to work with the 13th Photo Tech Unit. This resort town was occupied by the United States Army, and Mansfield noted the barbed wire and boarded up shops in letters. The lab was in a large, empty house and took considerable time to construct. Before it was finished, Mansfield worked mainly in the contact printing room or other labs in the region that needed assistance. She mentioned in letters that she and her peers often had to prove they could do the work, as many officers seemed doubtful. This testified to the sexism the W.A.C.s experienced, and that they did their job, and did it well, regardless of the obstacles. Mansfield continued her routine of taking personal photographs, which included several pictures of local Germans that accompanied the usual shots of friends and surroundings. She remained in Germany from July to November 1945, then returned to the United States after being honorably discharged from the military.
Post-War U.S. Air Force Service- After being discharged, Mansfield remained a civilian for fifteen months. Most of that time was spent helping a friend, Bertha Brownback. The two had become very close friends while in the military together but towards the end of their service, Bertha found herself pregnant without a husband. This meant she was automatically discharged from the military. When Mansfield returned to the United States, she moved with Bertha and the baby to Philadelphia where she worked for a short while with a photofinishing company. They then moved to Oklahoma because Mansfield wanted to be near family again. Soon after, Bertha died in a car accident, leaving Mansfield guardian of her child. She arranged for a couple related to her to adopt the baby, which freed her to reenlist in the military. This entire situation served as a testament to Mansfield's character; she was willing to put her career on hold to help a friend in need. It is this quality of love and friendship that stood out most strongly in her photography.
In September 1946, Mansfield re-enlisted in the W.A.C. where she worked in Photo Labs at U.S. Bases and in Germany. When the U.S. Air Force became a separate service, she became part of the Women in the Air Force. Mansfield was stationed in Erding, Germany from 1952 to 1955. While there, she toured Europe, visiting Berlin, Paris, and Rome as well as the scenic countryside of Germany and Austria. She took numerous photographs and assembled them into a scrapbook, accompanied with historical commentary and descriptions of events. Mansfield was even able to revisit Bad Kissingen, Germany, where she had been stationed during the war, and commented on its marked difference in appearance.
Mansfield remained in the U.S. Air Force until her retirement in 1973, after thirty years of military service where she earned the rank of Senior Master Sergeant(E-8). Throughout her military documents, Mansfield received numerous letters of praise and strong recommendations based on her work ethic. Because of her strong record, Mansfield was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal upon retirement, which is the highest award for military service during peacetime. This demonstrated to Mansfield that her hard work was appreciated, and she was very proud of it.
Retirement- Shortly before retirement, in 1970, Mansfield met Lorraine Caddy and the two became best friends. They decided that they liked each other enough to live together, and while Caddy was still in the military, they moved wherever she was stationed until her retirement in 1977. They decided to settle in Oklahoma outside Oklahoma City due to Mansfield's familial connection to the area. Mansfield returned to the University of Central Oklahoma in 1981 to complete a Bachelor of Science in Photo Journalism and a Master's Degree in Journalism in 1983. Photography remained her first love throughout her life, and she was an active member of the Oklahoma Camera Club since 1963. Mansfield passed away Sunday, December 30, 2007, at the age of 92. She is survived by her companion of 37 years, Lorraine Caddy.
- Custodial history:
This collection was donated by Lorraine A. Caddy. The collection was acquired by the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience on September 10, 2008.
- Processing information:
Processed Summer and Fall 2017
- World War, 1939-1945--Great Britain
World War, 1939-1945--Germany
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American
World War, 1939-1945--Women
World War, 1939-1945--England--London
Europe--Description and Travel
World War, 1939-1945--Europe
Sports for women
Meritorious Service Medal
United States, Oklahoma--Military records
Military Discharge--United States
United States. Army Air Forces--Military life
V-E Day, 1945
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
United States. Army Air Forces. Medals, badges, decorations, etc
World War, 1939-1945--Photography
Basic training (Military education)
- United States. Army. Women's Army Corps
Women's Army Corps Training Center (Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.)
Air Corps Technical School (Lowry Field, Colo.)
United States. Army. European Theater of Operations
United States. Air Force
University of Central Oklahoma
Doolittle, James Harold, 1896-1993
United States. Army Air Forces. Air Force, 9th
United States. Army Air Forces. Air Force, 8th
United States. Army. Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945-1955 : U.S. Zone). Office of Military Government
- Bad Kissingen (Germany)
Des Moines (Iowa)
High Wycombe (England)