As the world commemorates the 100th Anniversary of World War I, Edgar Thornton’s granddaughter, Marilyn Thornton, will share an epistolary trove of family history while providing well documented context for event referenced in her book, Letters from Edgar’s Trunk. This account of civilian life in Loudoun County is reflected in a collection of over one hundred letters, dated between 1916 and 1919, which capture vibrations of everyday life during the wartime, and discloses the continuing reality of civilian existence in America. James Edgar Thornton was a member of the legendary 369th American Expeditionary Forces all Colored Infantry Regiment that fought on the front lines in the Argonne Forest under French command. Conscription connected the entire family with the armed forces as when Edgar was drafted his brother and his brother-in-law were also called into military service. Throughout his tour of duty, Edgar’s wife, his mother and father, brothers and sisters, other family members, neighbors, and friends wrote to him, and Edgar wrote back. The letters, recollections of an African American World War I soldier from Loudoun County, provide a personal narrative of Edgar’s life. Thornton will discuss the book and talk about what she learned through research.
Marilyn Thornton holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Catholic University of America. She was Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Adjunct Professor of Art at the University of the District of Columbia, Executive Director of Arts DC, and Art Consultant for Binney and Smith. Her interest in family history and discovery of Edgar’s letters motivated her to compile Letters from Edgar’s Trunk, her first book. Books will be available for purchase.