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Accession Number: 2016.35.1

Physical Description: Wooden desk with green leather top. Brass hardware, including bail-style drawer pulls. Double-pedestal style desk with modesty panel. The left pedestal has four drawers. The right pedestal has three drawers, with the middle drawer being double-sized to hold veritcal files. Broad, shallow center drawer holds two pencil trays. All drawers contain dividers. Desk also includes extra hardware for additional drawer dividers and extra pulls. Brass plate and keyhole on center drawer. Above the bank of drawers on each side is an additional pull-out writing surface. The desk also has a third pull-out writing surface at the center of the front side. Decorative rail runs around the desk 11 cm down from the top, fitting between the top and second drawer on each pedestal and crossing the bottom of the face of the center drawer. Green leather desktop has stamped border with gold decorations.

History of Object: Harry W. Colmery (1890-1979) sat at this desk at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. while hand-writing the first draft of what would become the Serviceman?s Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, over a period of five months. The desk was later moved to Colmery's law office in Topeka. Colmery was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1913 and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1916. He then moved to Utah, where he passed the bar in 1917. He served in the United States Army Air Service as an instructor and pursuit pilot during World War I. Colmery was discharged in April of 1919, and in December of that year he married his high school sweetheart. They moved to Topeka where Colmery entered into legal practice with John S. Dean, and they remained in Topeka for the rest of Harry's life. Colmery was a strong advocate for veteran's issues and was involved with the American Legion from its inception in 1919, later serving as the National Commander in 1936. He was also a part of the Legion's national legislative committee before, during, and after World War II, where he was involved in the debate of how to assist veterans returning to civilian life. The Serviceman?s Readjustment Act was introduced in Congress in January of 1944 and signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22. It provided financial support for veterans to attend college or vocational training, unemployment payments for veterans looking for work, and low-cost home loans for veterans.

Date: Between 1943 and 1944

Dimensions (in cm): 77.70 (H) 184.00 (W) 91.70 (D)

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

    Use, Place of: Shawnee County (Kan.)
    Use, Place of: Topeka (Kan.)
    Use, Place of: Washington (D.C.)
    Theme/topic: Veterans
    Theme/topic: World War, 1939-1945
    Individual: Colmery, Harry W., 1890-1979

Status: Cataloged

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