West family papers  1697-1880
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (94 items) is primarily made up of undelivered incoming letters and greeting cards sent to Frank Costello, a New York crime boss, during his incarceration in federal correctional institutions from 1952-1953. Costello's correspondents shared their support for him, encouraged him to embrace Christianity, and requested financial assistance.

Frank Costello's incoming Correspondence (71 items), all by unauthorized correspondents, was directed to federal correctional institutions in Milan, Michigan; Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta, Georgia, from February 1952-October 1953. Costello received letters from around the United States and from foreign countries such as Italy, Switzerland, and Israel. Many writers offered personal or religious encouragement, some expressed their frustration with Costello's treatment, and one offered vague legal assistance. Correspondents frequently requested Costello's financial assistance and other favors, despite being strangers. For example, Eddie Bartholomay, an aspiring songwriter, sent Costello a song he intended for Frank Sinatra, with whom he believed Costello had a relationship (August 25, 1952); he sent a follow-up letter on September 9, 1952. Others asked Costello to be a pen pal, to endorse an affidavit, and to use proper grammar. Enclosures include newspaper clippings, photographs, religious tracts, and a pamphlet endorsing a universal world currency. Two letters are in Italian. The collection also contains a letter written by a warden of a prison to a warden of another prison regarding Costello's unauthorized incoming correspondence (October 15, 1952).

The Greeting Cards series (16 items) is comprised of Christmas and Easter cards that supporters sent to Costello during his incarceration.

Ephemera (7 items) includes a political poster, 2 loose newspaper clippings, a prayer card, and 3 religious pendants.

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