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Samuel Leyens Switzer papers & é ç ß

Identifier: MG 37

Scope and Contents

The Papers Of Samuel Leyens Switzer Are A Collection Of Personal Papers, Official Correspondence, And Maps, Dating From 1910-1957, The Bulk Of Which Dates From 1911 To 1920. The Collection Is Divided Into Six Series: Correspondence, Literary Productions, Printed Material, Maps, Photographic Material, And Memorabilia.


  • 1910-1957, 1985

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Leyens Switzer was born into a prominent family in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on November 26, 1896. He was a son of Simon and Flora Leyens Switzer. In 1902, Sam's father died, leaving his widow Flora with four children: Louis, Minette, Barbara, and Samuel.

Samuel Switzer's correspondence begins when he journeyed North in 1911 to complete his secondary education at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. After Exeter, Sam entered Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a member of the Class of 1918. Sam's letters home during this period reveal that he was a typical college student interested in fashions, football, girls, and grades. While attending college Samuel Switzer joined Harvard University's Military Reserve Unit. After his sophomore year, in the summer of 1916, Sam attended and successfully completed a United States Army Training Camp in Plattsburgh, New York. Sam returned to Harvard University in the fall of 1916, continuing both his studies and his military training. The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Sam spent the summer of his junior year, from May 7 to August 15, 1917, in a military instruction camp of the War Department of the United States at Harvard University.

Throughout the summer of 1917, the situation in Europe worsened for the Allies and Sam decided to sacrifice his senior year at Harvard University for his country. In August 1917 Sam Switzer entered Officer's Training Camp At Leon Springs, Texas. On November 27, 1917, he was commissioned a first lieutenant in field artillery. Lieutenant Switzer completed his military training with the Tenth Field Artillery, Third Division, at Camp Douglas, Douglas, Arizona. Sam drilled throughout the winter of 1918. On April 23, 1918, Lieutenant Samuel Switzer sailed with his division for France.

After a field artillery course at Coetquidau, France, Sam Switzer participated in the Champagne-Marne Defensive (July 15, 1918), the Marne-Aisne Offensive (July 18 - August 2, 1918), the Saint-Mihiel Offensive (September 12 - 14, 1918), and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 26 - November 11, 1918). Lieutenant Switzer was cited in the General Orders Headquarters of the Third Division, American Expeditionary Forces, for gallantry in action. His "brave work in defending a position near a bridge in the vicinity east of Chateau Thierry on July 14, 1918" entitled him to wear the Distinguished Service Cross. Lieutenant Switzer's bravery so impressed the staff of the United States Field Artillery Journal that they requested an account of his experience defending the gun at Mezy Bridge. Unfortunately, Mr. Switzer never found the time to fulfill their request.

After the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, Lieutenant Switzer traveled through Luxembourg and into Germany. He remained in Kretz and Kruft, Germany, with the American Army of Occupation. In March 1919 he was detailed to the American Expeditionary Forces University At Beaune, Cote D'Or, France. Lieutenant Switzer was "relieved from assignment and further duty in the Army" while a student at the American Expeditionary Forces University. At Beaune University he studied French, Political Science, and Business Law. In May 1919, while still in France, Sam Switzer was awarded his A.B. Degree in absentia from Harvard University. He was awarded this degree as a student who had completed three-fourths of the requirements but was unable to complete the entire course due to military service.

On June 15, 1919, Sam Switzer sailed for home with the St. Aignan Special (Beaune University) Casual Company Number 6438. After his arrival in New York City, Lieutenant Switzer proceeded to Fort Shelby, Mississippi, where he was formally discharged from the United States Army on July 29, 1919.

As a civilian, Sam Switzer entered the family business in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Switzer family owned the Valley Dry Goods Company, the largest department store in the Mississippi Valley. As president of The Valley, Samuel Switzer remained one of Vicksburg's most eminent businessmen. He was active in all phases of civic life and was a devoted member of Anshe Chesed Congregation, having served as congregation president and for a number of years as president of the Young Men's Hebrew Association. He was former chairman of the Jewish Welfare Federation and was a member of B'Nai B'Rith. Sam Switzer was also a member of the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club, the Chamber Of Commerce, and the Board of Directors of the Vicksburg Country Club. In addition, Mr. Switzer was a member of the American Legion and the Vicksburg Library Board.

After World War I, Sam Switzer maintained contact with his military comrades Through correspondence and attendance at the Tenth Field Artillery's reunion conventions. He also indulged his passion for travel. In the summer of 1937 he took a trip around the world. He also made numerous trips to Europe and Iceland. He was an enthusiastic philatelist and amateur photographer. A lifelong bachelor, Samuel Leyens Switzer died on April 14, 1960, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. His family remembered him as being "fervently American as a nationality and Jewish as a religion."


This an historical note for testing.


7.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Department Store Owner In Vicksburg, Mississippi. Includes Correspondence, Literary Productions, Legal Documents, Newspaper And Magazine Clippings, Maps, Memorabilia And Photographs, The Bulk Of Which Dates From 1911-1920. Collection Amply Documents His Service As An Artillery Officer In World War I. Of Note Are Maps Of Europe Detailing Battle Positions And Troop Movements In World War I.


The Collection Is Arranged Into Six Series: Series 1: Correspondence; Series 2: Literary Productions; Series Iii: Printed Materials; Series Iv: Maps; Series V: Photographic Material; Series Vi: Memorabilia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Loan By Mrs. Bettie Minette Cooper On 3/20/1980.
Samuel Leyens Switzer papers
Special Collections Staff
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Repository Details

Part of the deneme Repository

1438 West Peachtree, NW
Suite 100
Atlanta GA 30309