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Margaret Shelton Gillis papers

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 16178

Scope and Contents Note

The Margaret Shelton Gillis papers (1936-1975; 0.9 cubic feet) document the education and personal life of Virginia teacher Margaret Gillis. The collection contains school ephemera and letters, the former including handwritten notes from high school, newspapers, programs from various events, tests, student photographs, a Westhampton College handbook, printed cards, invitations, and broadsides.

Of particular note within the collection are letters from two soldiers during WWII. There are 61 letters from William P. Shelton of Richmond, Virginia, dating from 1942-1946. Shelton was an officer in the army during WWII, and a cousin of Margaret's, serving in England and France as a Military Police Officer and rising to the rank of Captain. Sixteen of the letters are sent from bases in the U.S. while completing his training, including MacDill Field in Tampa, Camp Lee in Virginia, Ordnance Automotive School, Omaha, and Camp Barkeley, Texas. Forty-five of his letters are sent from England, France, and Germany. Most of his letters contain war news including small details about his particular movements or duties, and the "news" he is reading overseas.

There are 21 letters from Ralph A. Strang, dating from 1943-1971. Margaret first met Strang at a dance at Camp A.P. Hill in May 1943. Ralph would be deployed to French North Africa only days after meeting Margaret. They communicated off and on for the next 30 years, as documented here. The final four letters from Ralph Strang are addressed to Mrs. Richard Gillis.

Finally there are 38 letters to Margaret from others, family and friends, dated 1937-1945.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1975

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical Note

Margaret Crawford Shelton was born in 1923 in Fluvanna County, Virginia. Soon after Margaret's birth, her parents Samuel, a lawyer, and Phyllis moved to Hanover County. Margaret graduated from Ashland High School in 1939 and went on to attend St. Margaret's in Tappahannock and Westhampton College in Richmond, eventually graduating from Madison College in Harrisonburg in 1943. After graduating, Margaret began teaching sixth grade in Ashland at Henry Clay School. Margaret married Richard S. Gillis, Jr., a future mayor of Ashland, in 1948 and together the two had a daughter named Kim.

Source: Materials within collection; Ashland Museum website.


0.9 Cubic Feet (2 document boxes (1 legal, 1 letter))


This collection has been arranged into two series.

Series 1. School ephemera, 1936-1960 (0.1 cubic feet). This series contains assorted flyers, notes, and newsletters from schools Margaret Shelton Gillis attended. Files are arranged by order of Gillis's enrollment.

Series 2. Letters, 1937-1975 (0.8 cubic feet). This series contains letters to Margaret Shelton Gillis, as well as a small number of photographs. Files are arranged by author of letter, then by year.


2019-0171, purchased 11 July 2016, Alfred Henry Byrd Endowment Fund, 2016/2017.

Related Materials

A related Margaret Shelton Gillis essay, referred to by a letter in this collection, can be found at E459.S53 1941 "The Causes of the War Between the States", Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

Margaret Shelton Gillis papers
Tanner Greene
16 October 2019
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States