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Brainerd family papers, 1932-1946 (majority within 1942-1946)

0.75 linear feet

This collection contains the World War II-era correspondence of sisters Margaret and Dorothy Brainerd of the Bronx and Kingston, New York, respectively, as well as that of Margaret's fiancé, Tony Gioia, who served in Europe during the war. Much of the collection consists of Tony's letters to Margaret, written during his training and describing life in the European theater, as well as letters from several soldiers and sailors to Dorothy and newspaper clippings related to the war.

This collection contains the World War II-era Correspondence of sisters Margaret and Dorothy Brainerd of the Bronx and Kingston, New York, respectively, as well as that of Margaret's later husband, Tony Gioia, who served in Europe during the war. The majority of the letters date between 1942 and 1946, and were written to the sisters by Gioia and other members of the United States military serving in both major theaters of the war. Dorothy received letters from men serving in the army, navy, and coast guard, who described various aspects of military life. One of her most frequent correspondents was her cousin, James Dingman, a corporal with the 65th Fighter Squadron. Along with news of his health and his thoughts on military life, he described a pilot's death during training in Groton, Connecticut (May 7, 1942), and told his aunt, Dorothy's mother Margaret, about an audience with the Pope in Rome (October 25, 1944).

The bulk of the collection consists of letters written by Tony Gioia to Margaret Brainerd, his girlfriend and future wife. Tony wrote of camp life and his related work at Camp Swift, Texas, and of the war in Europe after his unit was stationed there in October 1944. Tony served throughout Western and Central Europe, and frequently described military actions; he also attempted to share a picture of the war from a soldier's point of view, and he warned Margaret that the mainstream media was not a reliable source for such information (December 4, 1944). After the war, he remained in Europe for several months, and described the busy life of American soldiers during the military occupation of Germany. Though the bulk of the correspondence ends in 1946, after Tony's return to New York, the collection contains several letters to both Margaret and Dorothy Brainerd from friends and family in the late 1940s. The collection also holds a handful of letters to Tony Gioia from his parents, written in Italian, and a few written to him by Margaret, mostly after the war. In a series of three letters, William Roosa, a member of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, wrote to his father about his recall to the army and preparation for participation in the Korean War; he wrote one of these from Korea (February 18, 1951).

The collection also holds Newspaper clippings from the war, including several sent from Tony to Margaret during his service in Europe.


Gordon L. Hansen papers, 1943-1946, 2007 (majority within 1943-1946)

146 items (0.5 linear feet)

The Hansen collection consists primarily of 142 letters written by Gordon L. Hansen to his family during his service in the 14th Armored Division during the Second World War. Additional materials include a journal, a memoir, and an article written by Hansen.

The Hansen papers contain 142 letters from Gordon L Hansen to his parents and sister, Ev, written during his service in the 14th Armored Division during the Second World War. The collection is supplemented by three valuable manuscripts: a journal detailing his experiences prior to going overseas, a memoir composed in 1995 which describes his overseas experience, and a 2007 article entitled "The Unreported Indignity." The bulk of the collection is concentrated in 1944-1945.

Hansen's letters to his parents include interesting and thoughtful descriptions of his wartime experiences. They reflect a deep longing for home, but an overriding sense of the need to fulfill his duty to serve. Prior to going overseas, he wrote "I am not daunted by the possibility that I may never return. My prayers have been for strength to conduct myself in a manner that will glorify God and be a credit to my family and country rather than for personal safety" (1944 October 1).

There are two main areas of interest in the Hansen papers. First, Hansen's religious faith emerges in nearly all of his letters and throughout his journal. His letters illustrate how his abiding faith helped him to endure the hardships of war with equanimity. He wrote to his parents, "I've seen a lot and God alone has brought me thru!" Men from his squad asked Hansen to read from the Bible, since he was the only one who had one; but he added, "men aren't atheists here."

Secondly, Hansen's memoir provides some truly outstanding descriptions of his combat experiences in 1944 and 1945. Compiled in 1995, the memoir is the true heart of the collection since censorship deprived his letters of any details on locations, troop movements, or engagements. His cohesive and detailed memoir is interspersed with copies of cartoons by Bill Mauldin, excerpts of Hansen's letters, and quotes from Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe. In his memoir, the skirmish near Rittershoffen, Germany, in early January 1945 in which nearly his entire squad was decimated, emerges as a particularly bitter event, though barely mentioned in his letters. The subsequent rebuilding of his company and their morale illustrates their resiliency and Hansen's optimism and faith.


Kenneth L. Tingley correspondence, 1942-1949 (majority within 1945)

0.5 linear feet

This collection contains around 190 letters that Major Kenneth L. Tingley wrote to his wife Thelma and infant daughter Susan while serving with the 304th Infantry Regiment in Europe during World War II. Tingley also received 7 letters from his wife, relatives, and friends.

This collection contains around 190 letters that Major Kenneth L. Tingley wrote to his wife Thelma and infant daughter Susan while serving with the 304th Infantry Regiment in Europe during World War II. Tingley also received 7 letters from his wife, relatives, and friends.

Tingley began his correspondence on November 7, 1944, and wrote about life at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, until his deployment overseas in December 1944. He first traveled to England, where he shared his thoughts about the effects of the war and mentioned sightseeing in London. He was transferred to France in mid-January and continued to write almost daily throughout his service. Tingley described his travels through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany during the final months of the war, and commented on the local residents. He occasionally described his duties, which included arranging billets for soldiers and acquiring supplies. Tingley noted the Allies' constant attacks against Germany, and discussed his progress while advancing toward the Rhine River. On March 7, 1945, he reflected on the idea of total war and on the state of Germany. On April 1, 1945, he reported his promotion to major, and in May 1945 he received a Bronze Star.

After V-E Day, Tingley was stationed in Altenburg and Grafenau, Germany; he also travelled to Leipzig, where he described some of the war's destruction. He also commented on military and civilian life in postwar Germany, and provided more details about his experiences during the fighting. On September 17, 1945, he mentioned a visit to Adolf Hitler's home and to his headquarters, the Eagle's Nest. In his final letter, dated November 22, 1945, he shared his hope that he would return home in time to celebrate Christmas. Tingley's daughter Susan had been born while he was in the military, and he expressed his love and admiration for her and anticipated their first meeting.

Ephemera items include an invitation to a ceremony for wives of servicemen in the 304th Infantry Regiment, as well as a later document outlining the organizational hierarchy of a military task force and reporting some potential problems the force might face.


Leonard Lord letters, 1943-1946 (majority within 1944-1946)

0.5 linear feet

This collection contains letters that Captain Leonard Lord wrote to his wife Marge while serving in the United States Army's European Civil Affairs regiments during World War II. Lord discussed his experiences in England and France during the final year of the war, as well as his postwar experiences in Germany, where he worked with displaced persons.

This collection (86 items) contains letters that Captain Leonard Lord wrote to his wife Marge while serving in the United States Army's European Civil Affairs regiments during World War II.

Lord's first letter, dated December 8, 1943, concerns his experiences at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, where his unit tested toxic gases. He wrote the remaining letters from Europe between June 3, 1944, and February 27, 1946. In the summer of 1944, Lord was stationed in England; by the fall of that year he had been deployed to France, where he commented on the effects of the war on French citizens and mentioned his travels, though he could not reveal his specific locations. On several occasions, Lord referred to his previous experiences in France during World War I. By April 1945, Lord's unit, part of the 3rd Army, was involved in relocating displaced Europeans, many of whom had been forced laborers in German camps; some required medical procedures such as amputations. Lord worked in Bamberg and Würzburg, Germany, until at least February 1946; he and his units worked with liaison officers from European countries such as Poland and the Soviet Union, and Lord reported that some Soviet citizens did not wish to return. In his later letters, Lord sometimes discussed his finances. At least one letter is addressed to Lord's brother Edward ("Ted").


Vera and Gene Foreman Photograph Albums, 1942-1951

approximately 917 photographs in 4 volumes

The Vera and Gene Foreman photograph albums consist of four volumes containing approximately 917 photographs and miscellaneous ephemera that document the experiences of Vera Irene Masuch and her husband-to-be Charles Eugene “Gene” Foreman in post-World War II Europe both before and after they first met as well as earlier trips taken by Vera and friends to various places in the United States.

Volume 1 (1942-1943)

This album (25.5 x 33 cm) has brown faux-leather covers and contains approximately 159 photographs as well as some postcards. Images include numerous snapshots of young men and women (including Vera) on a ranch in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado; coverage of visits to Pike's Peak, Denver as well as an unidentified tropical location; and photographs showing young men in military uniforms.

Volume 2 (1949)

This album (32 x 38 cm) has decorative dark blue faux-leather covers and white plastic ring binding and contains 50 photographs as well as some ephemera. Only five pages near the front of the album and two pages towards the back contain any photographs, most of which show American GIs (including Gene) in training camp settings primarily near the town of Friedburg, Germany, and engaging in social activities. Some but not all images have captions. Also present towards the back of the album are several loose images including real photo postcards showing travel scenes to European locations such as Paris, Naples, Rome, and Venice as well as a group portrait of a football team, a program dated December 2 1950 for a USAREUR football game between the 2nd RCT "Dragoons" and 16th Infantry Regiment "Rangers," and a souvenir from the Casa Blanca cocktail bar in Newark, New Jersey bearing Gene Foreman's signature.

Volume 3 (1949-1950)

This album (32 x 38 cm) has decorative black faux-leather covers and white plastic ring binding and contains approximately 580 photographs as well as some ephemera. Images include photographs (including football games) from the U.S. military base near Augsburg from 1949 to 1950; recreational visits to Augsburg, Berchtesgaden (including the Eagle's Nest), Garmisch, Bonn, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt am Main in Germany, Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, and locations in the Netherlands, France, and Italy; wounded American soldiers encountered during a visit to a hospital in Munich; and 24 views of the former concentration camp in Dachau. Other images of note include photographs of a wedding between Vera's friends Mary and John and sporadic images unrelated to post-war Europe that were taken during past vacations including trips to Colorado, Utah, and El Paso, Texas.

Volume 4 (1950-1951)

This album (34.5 x 28 cm) has red leather covers and red satin lining and contains approximately 125 photographs as well as some ephemera. The first page bears the inscription "Merry Christmas! Gene, 1951, Augsburg, Germany" as well as a photograph of Vera and Gene seated together at a table. Images include numerous snapshots of friends and soldiers engaged in social activities taken on the Augsburg military base as well as photographs (including real photo postcards) taken in other European locations such as Venice, Pisa, Florence, Cannes, Amiens, and Paris. Numerous individuals are identified through captions. Also present is a tissue with lipstick kisses and a tuft of blonde hair, while several photographs and ephemeral items are stored loose towards the back of the album.

The individual captioned as "me" in a number of photographs in Volume 3 appears to be Vera. She also appears regularly in the pictures of Volume 1 (also identified as "me" in captions) as well as Volume 4, but does not appear at all in Volume 2. Gene appears for the first time outside of Volume 2 in the final few pages of Volume 3, where he is initially introduced in a portrait with the caption "Gene Forman - Eibsee Hotel, June 1950"; this portrait is followed by a full page of photos of Gene. Given that Volume 2 seems to portray Gene's time in Friedburg and most of Volume 3 seems to represent Vera's personal experiences in Augsburg and traveling elsewhere in Europe, it appears that they may have been unacquainted prior to June 1950. By October 1950 the two appear to be acting as a couple, as documented in a travel bureau itinerary present at the end of Volume 3 that details a four-day program in Naples for "Miss Masuch and Mr. Forman." The couple also appears together in Volume 4, though in this instance the "me" captions refer to Gene and not Vera, suggesting that he was the primary creator of that album.


Woodrow D. Johnson papers, 1914-1946

234 items

The Johnson collection consists primarily of letters between W. D. Johnson and his wife, Jane, during the Second World War, but includes letters from family and friends as well. The collection provides perspectives on both the home front and the European war front.

The Johnson papers consist primarily of letters between W. D. Johnson and his wife, Jane, during the Second World War, but includes letters from family and friends as well. Johnson also kept a few miscellaneous issues of Stars and Stripes, a map of northeastern France, and a journal in which he wrote sporadically.

Both Johnson and his wife are keen and intelligent writers and observers. Their letters show the anxiety and concern for each other, but also give insight into the larger picture of the home front, the war, and family and friends.

This collection has two main points of interest. First is the home front, described eloquently by Jane. She went to work immediately after Johnson left for training in Missouri, and quickly found a reasonably well-paying job at the Katharine Gibbs School. Although her salary was far less than that earned by women working in the war plants, Jane still brought home $160 per week. Her letters are filled with discussion of the effects of rationing and the constant scramble to find consumer goods and foodstuffs. Her letters also suggest how women whose husbands or boyfriends had been sent overseas banded together to create tight-knit social circles.

The second area of interest is the war front. Johnson writes to his wife frequently, though he rarely speaks of the horrors of the front. Partly because the Army censored his outgoing mail, Johnson rarely mentioned specifics about military events, but his journal and manuscripts chronicle his experiences in France and Belgium, and provides some useful information on the battles he survived, including the Battle of the Bulge. The contrast between his letters to his wife and his journal makes an interesting and useful comparison.

Johnson's letters indicate a dislike of different nationalities, particularly detested the French: "Gee, I love the French. They're so lazy, so dirty, so unworthwhile, they whimper and whine." Elsewhere, he wrote "The French have thoroughly sacked the country, we're perfect gentlemen compared to the Russians and the French." After witnessing the atrocities at Nordhausen, he concluded that the Germans were completely unworthy of sympathy. Letters received from Johnson's friend, Lt. Col. J. B. Coolidge stationed in the Philippines, provide insightful commentary on racial perceptions of the Japanese and Koreans. "The Jap is not so much hated for what he does but he is despised as a human being. His own ruthlessness and his inhuman methods so that the passion has become an automatic reaction."

The W. D. Johnson collection also illustrates the attitudes of enlisted men toward officers. Johnson considered his officers among the worst pillagers in France and Germany, and opined that the "Army suffers inefficiency beyond imagination because it does not enjoy sufficient public sanction to go all the way with its measures -- must continuously compromise."