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Donley Family Collection

Identifier: 2014.010

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence from Harden Donley to Doris Donley from 1943-1944 while he was enlisted in the Army. This includes letters, postcards, and telegrams, demonstrating the various ways that soldiers kept in touch with family and friends during World War II. There is additional correspondence from family and friends directed to Doris Donley (and in some cases Harden Donley as well). Researchers may also be interested in documents regarding the 1968 Clarksville Avenue Urban Renewal Project which affected residents and businesses near the downtown area of Clarksville. Other items in the collection include family photographs, financial documents (including W-2s, earning statements and tax returns), and local business advertisements.


  • Majority of material found within 1939 - 1975

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. Some confidential identifying information may need to be reviewed before researchers can use the material.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Doris Mildred Biter was born November 19, 1919 to Lee Alexander and Eva Biter. A native of Clarksville, Doris married Sgt. Harden Donley in 1942. Enlisted in the Army, Harden was stationed to Camp Meade in 1943 which is when the correspondence from Harden to Doris begins. Over the course of 1943, he was reassigned to a post in New Orleans for a short time before being moved again to Camp Millard in Bucyrus, Ohio where he remained for the rest of his time in the Army. Doris joined Harden in New Orleans for the brief time he was assigned there and returned to Clarksville when he was restationed. The correspondence stops in August 1944 when Harden was discharged and returned to his family home in Wellsburg, VA. It is unclear if Doris joined him in West Virginia for a short time, but by 1945 financial documents indicate that Doris at least returned to Clarksville. By 1951, tax records indicate that her name changed to Doris Darnell, and Robertson County marriage records indicate that Doris remarried to a man named Oliver Darnell on October 20, 1951. Oliver died in December, 1966 and it appears that Doris may have lived with other family members after that time. Doris remained in Clarksville until her death on February 15, 2014.


0.834 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Arranged by material type, creator, and date. Series I: Letters--Harden Donley to Doris Donley, c. January 15, 1943 - August 7 1944 Letter--Doris Donley to Harden Donley, July 27, 1944 Series II: Postcards--Harden Donley to Doris Donley, c. January 3, 1943 - c. July 29, 1944 Series III: Telegrams--Harden Donley to Doris Donley, July 5, 1943 - c. July 17, 1944 Series IV: Correspondence--Various senders to Harden and Doris Donley, 1939-1944 Series V: Financial Documents, 1943 - 1970 Series VI: Clarksville Avenue Urban Renewal Plan Documents, 1968 Series VII: Miscellaneous Items, 1942 - c. 1975 Series VIII: Photographs, c. 1900s - 1960s

Custodial History

Debbie Ary acquired this collection while cleaning out the former home of her aunt, Doris Biter, in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Processing Information

The collection was originally housed in a brown paper bag at the time of donation. The bag was in poor condition and was discarded during the initial processing. Don and Debbie Ary donated the collection to the Montgomery County Archives in 2014, and the initial inventory was completed in 2017. The majority of the letters were in the original envelopes and had been gathered into three groups, tied into stacks with ribbons. The postcards were in one stack, also tied with a ribbon. The remaining items, along with a few letters and postcards, were loose in the bag. All letters were removed from their envelopes and unfolded and the ribbons were discarded. Photographs were moved to the Archives Photograph Collection. The collection has been arranged based on material type, creator, and date.

Donley Family Collection
Sarah Fry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Montgomery County Archives Repository

350 Pageant Lane
Suite 101D
Clarksville Tennessee 30741 United States