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Gordon John Read Papers (DeKalb)


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

American Flag presented to Mr. and Mrs. John Read following Gordon Read's death in Korea

Box 7

Oversize Drawer 13

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Gordon John Read Papers (DeKalb), 1930-1994 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Gordon John Read Papers (DeKalb), 1930-1994

ID: RHC/RC/258

Extent: 3.0 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 10/22/2003

Subjects: DeKalb Township High School, Elgin (Ill.), Korean War, 1950-1953, Northern Illinois University, Read, Gordon John, United States. Marine Corps

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The majority of the materials in the Gordon John Read Papers date from 1949 to 1953.  Included is correspondence from “Gordy” Read to his parents from January to September 1951 while serving in the Marine Corps.  Researchers will find here a scrapbook of materials from Gordon’s boot camp days at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California, photographs relating to Marine Corps activities, and the flag that draped his coffin at the Memorial Service held January 20, 1952.  Also of interest are the letters Mr. and Mrs. Read received following Gordon’s death, as well as newspaper accounts relating to Gordon Read.  Also found here are class notes, assignments, text books, programs and other publications that belonged to Gordon Read while attending High School in Elgin (1947) and DeKalb (1948-1949), and Northern Illinois State Teachers College (1949-1950).  In addition, there are several folders with material relating to his parents Anna and John G. Read.

This collection gives voice to the life of an ordinary young man serving his country during the Korean War period.  The letters received by his parents, and especially those of Mrs. Marguerite Richardson to Anna Read following Gordon’s death show the feelings of those who struggled with the losses suffered because of this war.

Collection Historical Note

Gordon John Read was born December 9, 1930, in Elgin, Illinois, the only child of Anna Irene Romke and John George Read.  He attended schools in Elgin until his junior year of high school when the family moved to DeKalb.  Following graduation from DeKalb Township High School in 1949, Gordon enrolled at Northern Illinois State Teachers College, also in DeKalb, where he was taking courses in preparation for a career as a dentist.  

With the outbreak of the conflict in Korea, Gordon Read enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  He reported for duty January 22, 1951 and went to Parris Island, South Carolina for Basic Training.  In April, Private First Class Read traveled by train to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California for advanced training.  In mid-July his regiment boarded a ship for Korea, arriving August 3.  On September 22, 1951, just nine months after entering the Marine Corps, Read was killed in action at “Heartbreak Ridge” in eastern Korea.   Only 20 years old, he was as assistant automatic rifleman with the First Marine Division at the time of his death.  Gordon’s body was returned to the states in January 1952 and a Memorial Service was held January 20, 1952 at the First Lutheran Church in DeKalb, with burial in the Hampshire Center Cemetery.  He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal posthumously.

Subject/Index Terms

DeKalb Township High School
Elgin (Ill.)
Korean War, 1950-1953
Northern Illinois University
Read, Gordon John
United States. Marine Corps

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: Joann Adrian

Acquisition Method: Joann Adrian donated the papers and materials from Gordon John Read and his family to the Regional History Center on October 22, 2003.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[Box 5],
[Box 6: American Flag presented to Mr. and Mrs. John Read following Gordon Read's death in Korea],
[Box 7],
[Oversize Drawer 13],

Box 4
Folder 1: Marine Corps - Photographs, Correspondence, and Related Documents, January 1951-January 1952
Folder 2: Memorial Service in Korea, November 1, 1951
Folder 3-4: Gordon Read's Obituary Clippings  (photocopies and originals), September 1951 - January 1952
Folder 5: Gordon Read - Memorial Service, January 20, 1952
Folder 6: Gordon Read, mentioned in Church Bulletins, September 1951-March 1956
Folder 7: Correspondence to Mr. and Mrs. John G. Read from Marine Corps and Government following death of Gordon Read, 1951-1956
Folder 8: Correspondence to Mr. and Mrs. John Read following Gordon Read's death, September 1951-January 1952
Folder 9: Richard S. Guthrie, Correspondence to Gordon Read's Parents, and the Northern Illinois, 1951-1952
Folder 10: David Richardson, Correspondence to Gordon Read's Parents, 1951-1952
Folder 11: Marguerite Richardson, Correspondence to Anna Read, 1951-1953
Folder 12: Correspondence to Gordon Read from his cousin, Charles "Glen" Romke, 1943-1944
Folder 13: Correspondence to Gordon Read from Jack Reuter, June 1944
Folder 14: Anna Romke Read (Wiseman), Mother of Gordon Read, 1944-1990
Folder 15: John George Read, Father of Gordon Read, 1905-1966
Folder 16: Read Family Reunion, 1994
Folder 17: Friends of Gordon Read in the Service, 1951, 1953
Folder 18: Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation, Letter and  Photographs, 1953
Folder 19: Korean War Newspaper Clippings, September 1951
Folder 20: Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Elgin, Illinois, Newspaper Clipping, May 1955
Folder 21: Robert L. Swanstrom, Property Title, September 1954

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
[Box 5],
[Box 6: American Flag presented to Mr. and Mrs. John Read following Gordon Read's death in Korea],
[Box 7],
[Oversize Drawer 13],

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