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Mildred Shearer papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 02-01.0535

Scope and Contents

This collection contains personal papers including letters, notes, sketches, newspaper articles, and a radio interview of Mildred Shearer about her work with the United Service Organization (USO) sketching servicemen. Almost 600 photostatic copies and a few original portraits are included as well. The letters are mainly thank you notes in which servicemen and family members of servicemen commend her for her sketches.

However, there are a few personal letters from friends and in one case, an entire collection of correspondence with one man in the Marines named Lieutenant Ralph Hunter Bennett. Her letters from Bennett are romantic in nature, unfortunately, they are abruptly cut off, most likely by his death during the Battle of Iwo Jima on March 3, 1945. The notes include addresses of her subjects. It appears that a scrapbook was created, perhaps by Shearer herself, filled with newspaper clippings from the 1940s advertising and describing Shearer's work with the USO. Photocopies of this scrapbook are also included with the collection. The radio interview of Mildred Shearer took place in Hollywood, California in November 1945. Her French, Italian, and Spanish language guides as well as her Soldier Art Infantry Journal, Fighting Forces Series book is included as well.


  • created: 1944-1953
  • Other: Date acquired: 09/26/2001


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

Biographical or Historical Information

Mildred Shearer worked for the United Service Organization (USO) Camp Shows in military and Veteran's Administration (VA) Hospitals sketching servicemen from 1944-1947. Born April 5, 1908, she was an artist from California and graduated from Stanford University. She also studied at Art Students League in New York and Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. She was commissioned to do portrait sketches mainly on the west coast of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Becoming somewhat of a local celebrity, she received many thank you notes and was written about in local newspapers. Her sketches are portraits of many different servicemen, which she describes the process in her 1945 radio interview. The original sketches and one copy were sent to the subjects and their families, while Shearer was able to keep a photostatic copy for her portfolio.

In 1943, she was a hostess at an Officers Lounge in California where she met a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) named R.H. Bennett. This appears to be her longest correspondence during the war and the letters appeared to be romantic in nature over the span of two years. Sadly, the letters come to an untimely end with two letters marked "return to sender" to Shearer. In one of those letters, she makes the assumption that Bennett was at Iwo Jima; this combined with the end of the correspondence most likely means that he died in the Pacific. Between her letters with friends and servicemen and the news articles written about her, it is clear that she was very popular, talented, and was a part of the great work of the USO helping servicemen recover from war. Mildred Dabney Shearer-Lacayo- Didot passed away February 24, 2001.


3 boxes (1/2 box; Oversize Gen Coll: 2 flat boxes; Gen Coll: Oversize Box 8; Map Drawer; Complete Listing of all sketches in Flat Box 1 & Master File)

Language of Materials


Source of Acquisition

Audrey Oatley

Method of Acquisition

Acquired through donation to the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.

Processing Information

Revised 06/02/2016, Revised 05/31/2016, Entered 05/26/2016.


Mildred Shearer papers
Brianna A McLean
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US