Donald R. Caird correspondence, 1943-1985 (majority within 1943-1945)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Caird, Margaret Isabel MacDonell, 1917-2020
- This collection is comprised largely of the World War II letters of United States Army Air Forces Lieutenant Donald R. Caird (of Southeast Michigan) to Margaret I. MacDonell (of Phoenix, Arizona). Lieut. Caird's correspondence spans his Army Air Forces flight and instrument training at bases in Texas, Arizona, and California, 1943-1944; and his services as a pilot instructor at Merced, California, and Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1944 to 1945. His letters include information about work and everyday life on base, but primarily focus on his courtship with Margaret MacDonell, their marriage on December 7, 1943, the birth of their first son, and other aspects of their relationship, household, and newly forming family.
- 1 linear foot
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, September 2021
- Scope and Content:
This collection is comprised largely of the World War II letters of United States Army Air Forces Lieutenant Donald R. Caird (of Southeast Michigan) to Margaret MacDonell (of Phoenix, Arizona). Lieut. Caird's correspondence spans his Army Air Forces flight and instrument training at bases in Texas, Arizona, and California, 1943-1944; and his services as a pilot instructor at Merced, California, and Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1944 to 1945.
Correspondence Series: In his letters, Donald Caird commented on his training, on the flying students, his own instructional methods, his administrators ("the brass"), weather conditions that had an effect on flying, his quarters, clothing and laundry, frustration with changing instructional requirements, vehicles and transportation, the GI Bill (March 22, ), playing golf, bowling, and watching basketball and football games.
The most prevalent content in the Caird's correspondence pertains to his courtship with Margaret I. MacDonell, their marriage, the birth of their first son, and other aspects of their relationship, household, and newly forming family. He wrote about attending mass and confessional; planning before their December 1943 wedding; anticipating the birth of "shack rat"/"Roscoe" (i.e. Donald Caird) in November 1944; discussing Margaret's pregnancy, health, and medical treatments; working with real estate agents to find a house for Margaret and Roscoe near his Air Forces bases; wondering and reflecting on Roscoe's growth; trying to help manage finances; and planning for furloughs. He frequently discussed the next times he would be able to connect with Margaret. A small number of other correspondents contributed to the collection, including, for example, a couple of letters from Donald R. Caird's mother Ella Caird, enclosed in his letters of January 1944, and a letter from Dr. D. H. Moulton of Chico, California, on Margaret Caird's physical condition and pregnancy (June 13, ).
A selection of Lieut. Caird's letters bear illustrated, printed letterheads, including those of the Hotel Tioga, Merced, California, "The Gateway to Yosemite"; "GARDNER FIELD", California (June 13, ); and "New HOTEL OAKS", Chico, California (summer 1944).
Documents Series: The six partially printed documents contain records of Donald R. Caird's training at Thunderbird Field II, near Phoenix, Arizona, with aircraft types (all Stearman Aircraft Company PT-17s), flight times, and instructor names, December 8, 1942-January 19, 1943.
Printed Items Series: The printed items include five invitations/announcements/memorials, three newspaper clippings, and one printed pamphlet. The announcements include an invitation to the ordination of Rev. Alfred P. Caird (1915-1980) at Saint Basil's Church, Toronto, Ontario, September 29, 1941, along with a smaller announcement card for Rev. Caird's "First Solemn Mass" at Detroit, Michigan, October 5, 1941. The announcements/memorials include three variant printings memorializing Ella C. Caird following her death on July 5, 1962 (William Sullivan & Son Funeral Home, Royal Oak, Michigan). The three undated (World War II era) newspaper clippings regard the marriage of Dorothy Rohrbacher to Ted Levandowski, the birth of Donald Caird on November 21, , and a pictorial announcement about the newly organized Ria Club Alumnae (including Margaret McDonell in a group portrait). The collection's single pamphlet is: Steve Caird, et al.The Greatest Generation: Caird Stories Volume 2 . Artifact Uprising, [21st Century].
- Biographical / Historical:
Donald Raymond Caird was born on July 30, 1918, to parents Ella C. Caird (1880-1962) and Alfred P. Caird (1883-1939) at Highland Park, Michigan. He went to high school at Holy Name, which changed its name to Catholic Central High School during his time there. He attended the University of Notre Dame for four years, graduating in 1940, and went to work for the Wolverine Engraving Company.
Caird registered for the draft at Highland Park on October 16, 1940, at age 22. He enlisted on April 23, 1941, at Detroit, Michigan, and was assigned to the 32nd Infantry Division. He spent a short few days at Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan, before traveling to Livingston, Louisiana, for training. In 1942, he applied for and was accepted into the United States Army Air Forces. Caird went to Santa Ana Army Air Base, California; Thunderbird Field II, Phoenix, Arizona; and then, in February 1943, Air Forces Basic Flying School, Pecos, Texas, for basic training. A few months later in May 1943, he transferred to Luke Air Field, near Phoenix, Arizona, for additional training in Squadrons 1, 9, and 13, Cadet Detachments. Lieutenant Caird graduated from Luke Air Field and, in late August or early September 1943, he traveled to Randolph Air Base where he remained until October, then moved to Bryan Army Air Field at Bryan, Texas, in order to receive a few more weeks of training. There, he served in T-83 Squadron 3, F/T C, as part of the Student Officer's Detachment/Student Instr. At Bryan, Caird received instrument training.
From November 1943 to January 1944, he worked at Victorville and Chico, California, training pilots as part of the Chico Detachment at the Chico Army Auxiliary Air Base. By May 1944, he settled into work as a pilot trainer at the Merced Air Field, Merced Army Flying School, Training Squadron No. 3, Merced, California. Apart from a June 1944 stint at Chico, California, and January 1945 service at Gila Bend, Arizona, as part of the 3029th Army Air Forces Base Unit, he continued his service at Merced until early April 1945. He transferred to the Army Air Field in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he received a promotion on April 14, 1945, part of an officers' training program. Donald R. Caird continued to serve until the end of the war in September 1945.
While training at the Thunderbird Field II airfield near Phoenix, Arizona, in 1942, Lieut. Caird met Margaret Isabel MacDonell (1917-2020) who lived in Phoenix with her father and siblings, and worked at the nearby Luke Air Field as a stenographer, as part of an office typing pool. Margaret's father, Allan MacDonell (1880-1956) had been a blacksmith, later working as an insurance agent. Her mother, Elizabeth G. MacDonell (1884-1921) died when Margaret was a child. Margaret MacDonell's siblings included Frances MacDonell (1914-2008), Helen Elizabeth MacDonell Wantland (1911-1966), Kathleen MacDonell Binder, and Ellan Hilary MacDonell (1909-1982).
Donald "Don" Caird and Margaret "Meg" or "Mary" McDonell began a correspondence in early 1943, and by October (at the latest) had decided to marry. Donald R. Caird and Margaret I. MacDonell married while Lieut. Caird was stationed at Chico, California, on December 7, 1943. The couple continued their correspondence until Margaret and their son Donald (b. November 21, 1944) moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, around April 1945 in order to be near their husband and father. After the war, the Caird family moved to Detroit, settling in Royal Oak, Michigan. Donald and Margaret had eight children, including Donald, Judy, Timothy, Mary Hughes, Kevin, Stephen, Christopher, and Elizabeth Szuber. According to city directories, Donald R. Caird went to work as an evaluator at the Detroit Edison Company, where he remained until his retirement. Lieut. Donald R. Caird died on November 23, 2009, at Royal Oak, Michigan, and Margaret I. MacDonell Caird passed away on May 28, 2020, at the age of 103.
- Acquisition Information:
- Gift of Donald and Margaret Caird's son Stephen Caird, 2021. M-7342 .
The collection is arranged in three series:
- Printed Items
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Alfred P. Caird, 674: Wayne (Detroit), 1939, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records.
Allan MacDonell, Arizona, U.S., Death Records, 1887-1960 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Allan MacDonell, "Find-A-Grave", database, Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com : accessed 4 August 2021) Allan MacDonell (1880-1956) - Find A Grave Memorial# 209489114.
Caird, Steve, et al. The Greatest Generation: Caird Stories Volume 2. Artifact Uprising, [21st Century].
"Deaths of Notre Dame Alumni," Notre Dame Magazine. The Notre Dame Alumni Association (Summer 2010).
Don R. Caird, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Michigan, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 172.
Donald R. Caird, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 10345; Reel: 96.
Donald R. Caird, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014.
Elizabeth MacDonell, "Find-A-Grave", database, Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com : accessed 4 August 2021) Elizabeth MacDonell (1884-1921) - Find A Grave Memorial# 209489452.
MacDonell, Margt I, Phoenix, Arizona, City Directory, 1941, U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Margaret Isabel Caird Obituary, Wm. Sullivan Son Funeral Directors. https://www.sullivanfuneraldirectors.com/obituaries/Margaret-Caird/#!/Obituary (accessed 31 August 2021).
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Catholics--United States--History--20th century.
Child rearing--United States--History--20th century.
Courtship--United States--History--20th century.
Husband and wife--United States.
Pilots and pilotage--Training of.
Pilots and pilotage--United States.
World War, 1939-1945.
Clippings (information artifacts)
United States. Army Air Forces--History--World War, 1939-1945.
Caird, Alfred P., 1915-1980.
Caird, Donald, 1944-.
Caird, Donald Raymond, 1918-2009.
Caird, Ella C., 1880-1962.
MacDonell, Allen, 1880-1956.
Moulton, D. H.
Weaver, Ed J.
- Gardner Field (Calif.)
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Donald R. Caird Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan