Estival Collection, 1882-1943, Ms 0373
Finding aid created February, 2008
SCOPE AND CONTENT
Box 1 of the Estival Collection contains the correspondence of Georges Emile Estival (1895-1918), eldest son of Louis Henri Estival and Thérèse Estival (née Heim). The letters, spanning 1914 to 1918, are to Georges' parents and sisters, and recount his time as a mechanic and driver in the French army during WWI. The letters also refer to events at home, and from the clues contained, it is possible to gather facts or assumptions about the Estival family. Box 1 also contains photographs presumably taken by Georges Emile Estival during 1914-1918, sent to his family.
Box 2 comprises other Estival family correspondence; government-issued, military, and other documents and identity papers; photographs; clippings; maps; and other writings, spanning 1882 to 1943. Among these are letters from Louis Henri Estival to his family when in 1914 he enlisted himself in WWI, at age 44. The box contains official government or military documents, including the 1918 declaration of death of Georges Emile; identity booklets and cards; marriage and birth certificates; WWI-era rationing cards; WWII-era German passes and other documents from the 1940s German occupation of France.
Box 3 contains oversize and odd-shaped items, as well as a family photo album. Among these items are maps, photographs, and Georges Emile's army dog-tag.
Provenance: The collection was donated in 2006 to Colorado College by way of Bryant Ragan, CC professor of history, by Djamila-Stéphanie Robinet, resident of Paris. Mrs. Robinet's aunt, Anne-Marie Estival (née Robinet, deceased in 2003) was married to Georges Louis Estival (1919-1977). Georges Louis was the son of Louis Henri Estival and Thérèse Estival born after the 1918 death of his older brother, Georges Emile Estival. In the course of cleaning out her aunt's home, Mrs. Robinet found several boxes, long neglected, containing this archive, and recognized its historical significance.
NOTES TO THE RESEARCHER
There are a number of points to bear in mind that will make use of the Estival Collection easier:
1) All documents are in French.
2) According to French style, dates are the reverse of American, that is, the day is first, then the month, then the year (e.g., 1-12-17 is December 1, 1917).
3) Loose photographs are extremely fragile.
4) The Box 1 letters of Georges Emile Estival are numbered starting in 1916, and there are some gaps (likely indicating letters lost en route). Estival's numbering starts anew at "1" after each home leave.
5) There are two "Georges Estival," one born in 1895 (Georges Emile Estival), the other in 1919 (Georges Louis Estival).
6) Chronology of events, place names, names, dates, and family biography are pieced together from information contained in the materials at hand, most of which is hand-written. Therefore their accuracy is not one hundred percent guaranteed.
BOX 1, Ms 0373:
1914-1918, letters, the occasional drawing, and photographs from Georges Emile Estival (1895-1918) to his parents, Thérèse and Louis Estival ("Chère Maman," "Cher Papa," "Chers Parents") and his sisters, Simone and Germaine, from various military postings during WWI. All Box 1 letters are from Georges to his family unless otherwise noted.
FOLDERS 1-53, correspondence
Folder 1: Date uncertain [September 1914?]. 3 letters from Thérèse Estival, from Ivry-Port, France, to Georges Emile Estival
FOLDERS 2-7: 1914 correspondence
Folder 2: Date uncertain [October 1914?]. 1 letter
FOLDERS 8-20: 1915 correspondence
Folder 8: Date uncertain [January 1915?]. 3 cards
FOLDERS 21-33: 1916 correspondence
NOTE: Most letters start to be marked in numerical order from this point.
Folder 21: Date uncertain [January 1916?]. 3 letters. [Salonika, Greece]
FOLDERS 34-44: 1917 correspondence
Folder 34: January 1917. 6 letters. [Salonika, Greece, "au parc"]
NOTE: No letters in September 1917; probably on home leave (see October 23, 1917, letter for references to home leave). Note that numerical order of letters starts anew when letter writing resumes.
Folder 42: October 1917. 6 letters, 1 card. [St. Priest, Orange, nr.
Lyon; Marseille; Lyon; St. Priest]
FOLDERS 45-53: 1918 correspondence
Folder 45: January 1918. 4 letters. [Tombolo, Italy]
NOTE: Letters from Georges Emile Estival cease in early September 1918, just before the November 11, 1918, Armistice.
FOLDERS 54-55, Wartime photographs, 1914-1918
Photographs taken, probably by Georges Emile Estival (1895-1918), during War years, 1914-1918. Georges refers frequently in his letters to "clicks"-- photographs he has taken with his own camera and sent to his family. These are likely some (but far from all) of those photographs; it is unclear whether he is in any of the photos.
Folder 54: 10 photographs, [1914-1918?], some identified. "The Memphis" (carrier); possibly scenes in or near Salonika, Greece.
Folder 55: 6 photographs, [1914-1918?], none identified. Probably taken by Georges Emile Estival, but unclear whether he is in any of the photos.
BOX 2, Ms 0373:
ESTIVAL FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE, DOCUMENTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, CLIPPINGS, MAPS, 1882-1943
Folder 1: 1910-1914. 7 typewritten letters. Correspondence from Louis Estival (1874-1935), relating to his enlisting in the French army, WWI, at age 44.
II. DOCUMENTS, 1912-1940
Folder 2: Will and testament of Louis Henri Estival, 1912.
Folder 3: Government-issued documents of Georges Emile Estival (1895-1918):
Folder 4: Posthumous documents of Georges Emile Estival (1895-1918):
Folder 5: Estival family government-issued identification documents:
Folder 6: Documents of Thérèse Estival (nee Heim) (1882-1943):
Folder 7: 6 items. Rationing cards for sugar, gasoline, and bread, 1917-1919.
Folder 8: 1940s documents, Houry and Estival families:
III. NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
Folder 9: One 1943 newspaper clipping, regarding German advances south of Novorossiisk.
Folder 10: One map [1940s?]: "Théâtre de la Guerre: de la Marne au Rhin" (war theater, from the Marne to the Rhine).
V. LOUIS HENRI ESTIVAL: ACCOUNTS OF MARTINIQUE, 1892-1893
VI. PHOTOGRAPHS: ESTIVAL FAMILY
Folder 12: Dates and places unidentified. Estival family photographs? Possible locations: Villeneuve-sur-Lot; Ivry-Port.
Folder 13: "République Française" embossed "papier timbre" (prepaid postage) stationary. Different years and denominations, 1884-1945.
BOX 3, Ms 0373
OVERSIZE AND ODD-SHAPED ITEMS BELONGING OR RELATING TO ESTIVAL FAMILY [18--? to 19--?]
Folder 1: 2 hand-drawn maps of area around Somme-Py, France, [site of many great battles of World War I with a number of monuments to soldiers from various countries].
Folder 2: 3 maps, one oversize, of area around Somme-Py, France, [site of many great battles of World War I with a number of monuments to soldiers from various countries].
Photograph album: Leather-bound album of Estival family photos.
The Estival family was an industrial family living on the outskirts of Paris, France, at the turn of the 19th century. They produced most notably vegetable and fruit conserves -- Estival & Cie, Conserves Alimentaires -- a business that prospered before and during WWI, and beyond, with conserve factories at one point in several French towns including Villeneuve and Tours. During the WWI years, the family resided at Ivry-Port, and had country retreats at Villeneuve and perhaps Draveil.
The archive begins in 1914, when the eldest son of Louis and Thérèse Estival*, Georges Emile Estival, enlisted in WWI. For the four years of his correspondence to his family, Georges served in the "Service Automobile" or the "Convoi Automobile" (the automobile service and convoy) of the French armed forces, as a car, truck, and eventually tank, mechanic and driver. His 1914-1918 letters, to his parents and two sisters, recount daily life in the army, at various postings in France, Greece, and Italy.
Georges' letters (Box 1) provide many clues not only about daily life in the army and about the sequence of events during the war, but also about life back at home in Ivry-Port. He refers to various family members, their activities and travels, the family business, and the effect the war increasingly has on the family near besieged WWI Paris. He makes frequent requests for mundane items: jam, chocolate, sardines, and other foodstuffs; for socks, blankets, towels, gloves, sunglasses, toothbrushes, soap, money, and many other necessities. He is an avid photographer, often requesting film and film-processing equipment, and sends "clicks" home to his family (some in Box 1, folders 54 and 55). He plays chess and checkers, reads and studies, and generally tries to keep himself physically and mentally fit. The sometimes grueling conditions and work, frequent moves, the waiting, the exposure to disease (malaria, gastrointestinal ailments, dengue fever, typhoid, varioli) and to death and destruction, the distance from home and lack of comforts, all appear to take their toll. He ends up twice in the hospital. But in almost all of the hundreds of letters, he reassures his family that he is healthy and that all is well, and he is always solicitous of their well-being. He is killed driving a tank during a massive Allied onslaught, in the weeks preceding the November 11, 1918, Armistice. The maps of Somme-Py in Box 3 indicate that he may have either been killed, or is buried, at Somme-Py, site of many great WWI battles and of monuments to the war dead.
While Georges is stationed near Dunkerque, Louis Henri Estival, the family patriarch, offers his services to the French armed forces in 1914, at age 44. His letters of good-bye to his family (Box 2) offer clues about his state of mind and the state of the family business. Some of his experience as a young corporal in the French armed forces in Martinique in the 1890s is documented in his writings (Box 2, folder 11).
It would appear from the evidence at hand that after Georges Emile Estival's death in 1918, his parents went on to have another child in 1919, Georges Louis Estival. His sister Simone married André Lucien Houry and had three children. The fate of his sister Germaine is not documented here. There are references in the wartime letters to other family members: Marcel, Albertine, Roger, Louis, Henri, Maman Heim (presumably Thérèse's mother); and to factory manager, Vladimir Kodrine, none of whose identities or fates are traceable here. It is likely that some of these individuals are the subjects in family photographs (Box 3).
Patriarch Louis Estival died in 1935, before WWII began in earnest. From these documents, it appears that the surviving family members endured the German WWII occupation of France (see Box 2, folder 8). There is a reference in one 1940 document to Thérèse Estival, now a widow, losing her home (Box 2, folder 8). She dies in 1943.
Georges Louis Estival (1919-1977) appears to have joined the army in about 1939. He was a passionate mountain climber and nature lover, and studied electrical engineering. He married Anne-Marie Robinet (deceased 2003), aunt of donor Djamila-Stéphanie Robinet.
*Thérèse Estival, née Heim, is presumably Georges Emile Estival's step-mother, as she is not listed as his birth mother on his birth certificate. Nonetheless, Georges addresses her as "Maman," and she refers to herself as "ta maman" in all of their correspondence. Georges would have been only six years old when his father married Thérèse in 1901. The fate of Georges birth mother, listed on his birth certificate as Joséphine Grand, is unknown, and she is never mentioned in any of the archive except on said birth certificate.
FAMILY "WHO'S WHO": PEOPLE AND PLACES
Louis Henri Estival: 1874-1935. Family patriarch. Industrialist, founder and owner of Estival & Cie Conserves Alimentaires.
Thérèse Estival, née Heim: 1882-1943. Family matriarch,
wife to Louis Estival,
"Maman" Heim: [n.d.] Mother of Thérèse Heim.
Josephine Ernestine Grand: [n.d.] Birth mother of Georges Emile Estival.
Georges Emile Estival: 1895-1918. Son of Louis Estival, birth son of Joséphine Grand; [step?]son to Thérèse Estival.
Simone Andrée Estival: 1905-1964. Daughter of Louis and Thérèse Estival.
Germaine Estival: [n.d.] Daughter of Louis and Thérèse Estival.
Georges Louis Estival: 1919-1977. Son of Louis and Thérèse Estival.
André Lucien Houry: 1902- [n.d.] Husband to Simone Estival.
Vladimir Koudrine: [n.d.] Factory manager for Estival & Co.
Roger: Cousin's husband?
Ivry-Port: Family main residence.
Villeneuve, Draveil (both in Ile-de France): Family country residences?
Ivry-Seine; Lot & Garonne (Villeneuve-sur-Lot); Indres & Loire (Tours): Estival & Co. factory locations. (The company of Estival & Cie Conserves Alimentaires specialized, according to its letterhead, in "champignons de Paris, petits pois, haricots, asperges, macédoines, cêpes," as well as meats, jams, and other conserves.)
Salonika, Greece (French "Salonique"): Base for Allied operations in WWI.
Somme-Py, France: Site of many WWI battles, and of monuments to the war dead from a number of countries.
NOTE: The following timeline was pieced together through clues provided in mostly hand-written letters and official documents in the collection. Its accuracy is therefore not guaranteed to be one hundred percent certain.
1874: Louis Henri Estival born to Jean Estival and Marie Antoinette Porte[faix].
1882: Thérèse Heim (later Thérèse Estival) born.
1892: Louis Henri Estival, corporal, nearly dies in accident in Martinique (see Box 2, folder 11).
1895: September 30, Georges Emile Estival born to Louis Henri Estival and Joséphine Ernestine Grand (fate unknown).
1901: Louis Henri Estival marries Thérèse Heim.
1902: André Lucien Houry (future husband to Simone Estival?) born.
1905: Simone Andrée Estival born to Louis and Thérèse Estival. (Sister, Germaine Estival, birth and death dates unknown).
1914: Georges Emile Estival (19 years) enlists in WWI, as a "Mécanicien / automobiliste" (mechanic / driver). Serves for 4 years, until death during battle.
1914: Louis Henri Estival (44 years) requests to be enlisted in WWI as an officer.
1918: Georges Emile Estival killed driving a tank in October or November, 1918.
1919: Georges Louis Estival born to Thérèse and Louis Estival.
1935: Louis Henri Estival dies.
1943: Thérèse Estival (née Heim) dies.
1964: Simone Andrée Estival Houry dies.
1977: Georges Louis Estival dies.
2003: Anne-Marie Estival (née Robinet, wife of Georges Louis Estival) dies.
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 5-2011, jr.