In August 1939, two young American women, Meredith Hall and Dorothy Pawlicki, of Holland, a suburb of Toledo, Ohio, sent a letter to Sheffield Libraries. They wanted to find English penfriends:
To whom it may concern
We are two young ladies, married, and interested in England, and would like to correspond with someone likewise interested in our US.
Would it be asking too much to have you give the addresses below to two other persons, preferably ladies ranging in ages 25 to 40.
The City Librarian, Joseph Lamb, passed the letter on to the Sheffield Star and, never one to miss an opportunity for publicity for the library service, got an article in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph.
Sadly, we have not been able to find out why Dorothy and Meredith chose Sheffield or if they ever made friends locally. There don’t seem to be any further newspaper articles. Perhaps the outbreak of World War II in Europe, just three weeks later, put paid to any correspondence. But perhaps not. It would be good to think that transatlantic friendships were made, particularly in wartime.
Following Dorothy’s and Meredith’s enterprising example, we contacted the Holland-Springfield Journal. Thanks to the Journal and the local historical society, we have been able to find out a little about the two women.
Dorothy was born Dorothy Stirn on 24 November 1910 in Paulding, Ohio and died 27 March 1979 in Toledo. She married Alfred F Pawlicki in 1930 and they had two children, Janet (b. 1931) and Jerry (b. 1939). In later life she worked as a secretary at a law firm. Meredith was born on 27 March 1907 in Swanton, Ohio and died in Florida on 30 November 1993. She was married three times, including to Canadian Myrven Hall and had one son, Charles Wyant (b. 1924). She worked most of her life as a telephone operator for the Riverside Hospital in Toledo.
Not perhaps a very successful piece of research, but it does illustrate the unusual requests sometimes made of public libraries.