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Finding Aid

Papers of Burton Jay Smith and Willametta Turnepseed
MsC 868
Collection Dates: 1941-1944

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: The papers of Smith and Turnepseed were originally acquired as part of the MIke Horvat collections of fanzines and apazines, received in December 2004.
Guide posted to Internet: December 2007.

Photographs: Box 2









Scope and Contents

The collection consists mainly of correspondence between Smith and Turnepseed. A few additional pieces of correspondence to or from either Smith or Turnepseed are also present. There are also several issues of Literary Newsette, the amateur publication that the two co-edited. The collection has one undated photograph, which may depict Smith. A few sample envelopes from the correspondence are also included.

Smith and Turnepseed were engaged to be married, and most of their correspondence consists of love letters. The letters chiefly concern their romantic feelings towards each other and their post-marriage domestic plans. The correspondence also contain numerous references to their amateur printing endeavors, including Turnepseed's tenure as President of the National Amateur Printing Association (NAPA) in 1944. Once Smith was inducted into the United States Army Air Forces in January 1943, his letters, written from his postings at different airfields, also describe his flight and navigation training and the military life.

Biographical Note

Burton Jay Smith was born on January 11, 1916, in Adrian, Michigan. His parents were Burt H. and Lucia (Jones) Smith. Desiring to become a schoolteacher, Smith attended Adrian College and then the University of Michigan, where he obtained his B.S. He became a science teacher in the Wyandotte, Michigan public school system, and also worked as a summer camp counselor at Camp Davaja in Brighton, MI.

In 1936 Smith joined the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA), and in the winter of that year published his first amateur magazine, Eisegesis. He published a number of other journals, including Amateur World, Micros, Avocation, and Tanacovio. In April 1941 he published the first issue of Literary Newsette; from the seventh issue onwards, the journal was co-edited by his amateur journalist colleague Willametta Turnepseed, who carried on publication alone after Smith's induction into the military. Smith and Turnepseed fell in love and were engaged to be married in May 1942.

Smith enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in January 1942, but he was not called to active duty until January 1943. He trained as a flight navigator at various locations, including Nashville, Tennessee; Ellington Field, Texas; San Marcos, Texas; Mountain Home, Idaho; and Wendover Field, Utah. He won his silver wings and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in September 1943. He was attached to various squadrons of the 8th Army Air Corps, and was transferred overseas, first to North Africa, then to England in early 1944. In June of that year he was promoted to First Lieutenant and awarded the Air Medal with several clusters. On August 31, 1944, he wrote to his fiancee Willametta, ending with the lines "Good-night; I have to fly tomorrow." He was killed the next day when his plane crashed near Norfolk. Smith was buried in the Cambridge Military Cemetery and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Willametta Turnepseed was born in Russell, Kansas in 1909 .Her family moved from Kansas to Springfield, Ohio, where she lived much of her early life. She graduated from high school at fifteen, at which time she had already begun to take an interest in the world of amateur journalism. Turnepseed wrote a number of short stories between 1935-1942 for such publications as All-Story Love Stories and Street and Smith's Love Story Magazine.

In 1938 she joined NAPA and became an enthusiastic member of the amateur printing world. She started Lo-Qui-Tur, a Springfield, OH chapter of NAPA on the first day of her attendance at the 1938 NAPA convention, and while in this chapter produced a well-received paper, Walk One Flight. Turnepseed served NAPA in a number of administrative capacities, including Mailing Manager (1940-1941), Vice-President (1941-1943), Official Editor (1943-1944),President (1944-1946), and Executive Judge (1946-1948, 1953-1954).

Over the years Turnepseed was active in a number of other associations, including the United Amateur Press Association (UAP) and the British Amateur Press Association (BAPA). Over her years of activity, from 1938-1988, she edited or co-edited nearly 1300 publications (individual issues of journals).

Turnepseed's fiancee Burton Jay ("BeeJay") Smith was killed in action on September 1, 1944. She met fellow printer and NAPA member Martin Keffer, of Roanoke, Virginia, in 1945. The two were secretly married in Roanoke on May 31, 1947 (the marriage was made public in late June). Keffer, like his wife, remained active in amateur journalism until the end of his life. Both Turnepseed and her husband were killed as the result of a car crash on May 8, 1989.

Related Collections


GERINGER, LAUREN, 1908-1992. Lauren Geringer Papers, 1919-1992. 1.75 ft.
Iowa City printer and author. The bulk of the collection is comprised of monthly bundles from amateur press associations during 1990 and 1991, including the Amalgamated Printers Association, the National Amateur Press Association, and Peat's press. Items from Geringer's Press, clippings about Geringer, a miscellaneous collection of samples of printing, and several editions of his small journal, People Watcher make up the remainderof the collection. MsC 847. (Finding Aid)

MILLER, GUY. Guy Miller Amateur Printing Collection, 1934 - 1989. 0.8 ft.

Collection of amateur print publications, most dating from the early and mid 20th century. MsC 881. (Finding Aid)

ROW, HEATH. Heath Row Amateur Press Association Collection, 1934-2010. 2.0 ft.

Zine writer and editor, and member of multiple amateur press associations. Includes apa publications, apa official organs, and assorted loose ajay publications. MsC 364. (Finding Aid)

RUBEN, ELLIOTT M., 1916-2009. Elliott M. Ruben Amateur Press Association Collection, 1926-2009. 30 ft.

Amateur journalist and member of a number of amateur press associations. Bundles of apa publications, apa official journals, correspondence, official apa documents, and Ruben's childhood efforts at printing. MsC336. (Finding Aid)

Box Contents List

Box 1


Smith Correspondence

   December 1941

Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   May 1942

   June 1942

   July 1942

   August 1942

   September 1942

   October 1942

Smith Correspondence

   November 1942

Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   December 1942

   January 1943

Smith Correspondence

   February 1943

   March-April 1943


Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   May 1943

Smith Correspondence

   June 1943


Box 2


Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   July 1943

Smith Correspondence

   August 1943

Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   September 1943

Smith Correspondence

   October 1943

Smith and Turnepseed Correspondence

   November 1943

Smith Correspondence

   December 1943

Turnepseed Correspondence

   August 1944

   September 1944

Additional Correspondence, 1943-1944, undated

Literary Newsette, December 1942, June-August 1944

Photograph of Man (Burton Jay Smith?), undated

Sample Envelopes, 1941-1944