Letters to Mel Beaudette
These are personal letters sent to or in the possession of Melvin Baudette from Ann Arbor, Michigan. An unnamed used bookstore owner in East Lansing, MI bought Baudette’s book collection and was planning to discard the letters. In 1996, someone known only as Kathy who had “rescued [the letters] from destruction almost 10 years ago,” and “kept back 6 or 7 of the most interesting,”sent them to a professor at the United States Air Force Academy, who in turn donated them to the Center archives in 1999.
Scope and Content
The letters are from several young men most of whom were in the military and stationed at bases in Canada and the US. The dates range from August 21, 1941 to April 28, 1948. The only letter not directly addressed to Baudette, is one of April 16, 1944 from B. Mitchell in Ann Arbor, MI to Eugene F. Rollins in Texarkana, TX.
The letters contain several references to sexual and social relationships between various men. One friend, Lloyd, in a letter, dated March 16, 1942 and sent from San Antonio, Texas, writes about “cruising” the local greyhound bus station. Another letter, from a friend in Orono Maine relays a news report that the “Bangor Grand Jury recently indicted three for sodomy.” Another letter, from Frank in Manitobia, contains a poem written by a friend to whom he is giving literary advice.
History or Bio
The only information available is that given in the letter accompanying the collection addressed to the donor and the donor’s email to the Center archive. The donor described Baudette as “a leading light in student organizing at Ann Arbor in the 1940s.” The letter sent to the donor described Baudette as “the director of the Student Union at UM and at the heart of the gay community.”
1. From “F” in Brandon, Manitobia to Baudette, dated, August 21, 1941. (the F is possibly Frank from the April 8, 1942 letter)
2. From Lloyd in San Antonio, Texas to Baudette, dated March 16, 1942.
3. From Frank in Dauphin, Manitobia to Baudette, dated April 8, 1942. Contains a poem by Curt Towsend.
4. From B. Mitchell in Ann Arbor, MI to Eugene F. Rollins in Texarkana, TX, dated April 16, 1944.
5. From George, no address given, to Baudette, dated April 28, 1948.
6. From Walter Duncan in Orono, ME to Baudette, postmarked Sept 16, 1948.