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M. E. Springer Oral History

Identifier: MS-1992

  • Staff Only

In this interview, M. E. Springer discusses his life as a non-combat soldier in World War II. He notes that his perceptions of the war would be drastically different if he had suffered the same personal losses that men who were in combat experienced, but also emphasizes his unit's readiness to deal with field casualties with the greatest affection and care. He describes the locations that his unit served in, noting that the unit's quarters ranged from tents to castles to requisitioned hospitals. Springer also mentions that there was a division in his unit between drinkers and non-drinkers, who tended not to interact. He goes on to describe his time in Japan conducting soil surveys, which were intended to help the Japanese develop a self-sufficient food supply.

This document also contains an addendum written and submitted by Springer describing his life since the Second World War, including his Ph.D. work at UC Berkeley, his time at the University of Tennessee, his post-retirement activities, and his children and grandchildren.


  • 2001 April 3

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In this collection, M. E. Springer discusses his life as a non-combat soldier in World War II and his postwar work conducting soil surveys in Japan.

Biographical/Historical Note

Maxwell Elsworth Springer was born to Elzie Madison and Mabel (Chapman) Springer on October 21, 1913 in Bourbon, Missouri. His family lived on a 328-acre farm, and Springer developed an early interest in agriculture. After graduating from high school, Springer enrolled at the University of Missouri where he studied agriculture and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He graduated with his BS in 1935 and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He attended Officer Candidate School (which he describes as being a very difficult and taxing time) and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force's 56th Field Hospital as a medic. With this unit, Springer served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. After the war ended, Springer conducted soil survey work in Japan until 1947.

After being discharged from the Army, Springer returned to Missouri, where he earned his AM degree from the University of Missouri in 1946. In 1949, Springer went to California to conduct graduate work in soil science and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with his PhD in 1953. After graduation he returned to Missouri, began teaching at the University of Missouri, and married Jean Huston on December 22, 1953. He joined the University of Tennessee's faculty as an Associate Professor in 1957 and retired as a full Professor in 1979. During his time in Tennessee, Springer received a Fulbright Grant, which he used to travel to Ghent, Belgium and teach graduate-level courses in soil formation. After retiring from the University of Tennessee, Springer worked as a part-time soil consultant for the Tennessee State Health Department. Later in life, Springer competed in the Senior Olympics as well as many other track and field events. Springer died on October 11, 2009.


This collection consists of one folder.

Acquisition Note

The Center for the Study of War and Society donated this collection to the University of Tennessee's Special Collections Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA