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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 936

Papers of Harriet Adams Earhart, 1944-1945


Personal papers of army nurse Harriet Adams Earhart, including letters from her husband Army Air Corps Captain Robert Earhart, during World War II.


  • Creation: 1944-1945

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Harriet Adams Earhart as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.83 linear feet (2 file boxes)

Collection consists of Harriet Earhart's diary; letters from Robert Earhart to Harriet Earhart; and letters from Harriet Earhart to Robert Earhart, returned unopened and marked "Deceased." Also included are a few letters written by friends or family, including Harriet's mother Neva Adams to Robert (#1.3). In Robert Earhart's letters he writes about army life while being stationed in the American south and Europe and his feelings for Harriet, her pregnancy, and the prospect of becoming a father. Harriet Earhart's diary (#1.1) contains a small number of brief entries that she wrote during her time as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps. She mentions her day-to-day activities, as well as her feelings for Robert Earhart and his marriage proposal. The collection also includes photographs of Harriet Earhart with her son Robert Earhart, Jr., and a sketch of Robert Earhart, Jr. (#2.6), and Harriet Earhart's initials that Robert Earhart carved from a piece of plexiglass taken from a German aircraft (#1.7).


Harriet Adams Earhart was born Harriet DeHaven Adams on May 12, 1921, in Pound Wise, Virginia. Her parents were Neva DeHaven Adams and Walter Eugene Adams; she had two older siblings. She grew up on a farm near Winchester, Virginia, and attended Handley High School and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. With the onset of World War II, Harriet Adams enlisted as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps and was stationed in Florida, where she met and married an Army Air Corps Lieutenant, Robert Howard Earhart, Sr., in the spring of 1944. Robert Howard Earhart, Sr., was born January 14, 1923, in Pipestone, Minnesota, and raised on a farm near there. His parents were Charles Philip Earhart and Wincie Mattie (Coder) Earhart. Robert was the youngest boy of eleven children. After Harriet Earhart and Robert Earhart married, she left the service and returned to her parents home, where their son Robert, Jr., nicknamed Butch, was born on January 17, 1945.

During his time in the service Robert Earhart was promoted from Lieutenant to the rank of Captain. He was stationed in many places, including France, Corsica, and Italy, and was awarded the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1945 he was assigned to the 12th Air Force, 3rd Photo Group, 23rd Photo Recon Squadron, flying P-38 F-5E combat photography missions based in Peretola Airfield near Florence in Italy. During a mission on March 24, Earhart crash landed due to engine failure and died four days later.

Harriet Earhart continued to work as a nurse, briefly at an Indian reservation near Pipestone, Minnesota, and then in various roles at Winchester Memorial Hospital, and eventually at Newton D. Baker Veteran's Hospital near Martinsburg, West Virginia. During this period she also pursued her lifelong interest in horses, developing a small herd of registered Welsh and Shetland show ponies (Starlight Stables) which she and her son exhibited at fairs and horse shows throughout the East and the Midwest. After leaving nursing she married John Anthony Cavallero, and established a doll and miniature shop in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harriet Earhart died September 28, 1997, in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, and is buried in the family plot in Winchester, Virginia. Robert Earhart, Sr., is buried in Pipestone, Minnesota. His name is borne by his son Robert Earhart, Jr., his grandson, Robert Howard Earhart III, and his great-grandson, Robert Howard Earhart IV.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2001-M181

The papers of Harriet Adams Earhart were acquired from Charles Apfelbaum in October 2001.

Processing Information

Processed: March 2018

By: Laura Peimer

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

General processing procedures in place at the Library include the following:  books (when not heavily annotated) by and about the collection's creator and on subjects which fall within the Library's collecting area are removed and cataloged separately with information about their provenance; other books and serials are not retained.  Other material not normally retained include:  clippings that are not by or about the collection's creator; research files; financial documents such as checkbooks, cancelled checks, bank statements, etc. (when there is financial documentation at a higher level); invoices, receipts, orders, airline tickets, etc.; and envelopes (when they do not contain additional information).

When samples of weeded documents are retained, it is indicated in the finding aid.

Earhart, Harriet Adams. Papers of Harriet Adams Earhart, 1944-1945: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Radcliffe Class of 1956 and the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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