Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Molly Wilson Papers, 1945-1946

Finding aid created by
C. A. P., May 1996

Summary Information
Title: Molly Wilson papers
Creator: Wilson, Robert L.
Inclusive dates: 1945-1946
Extent: 21 items (0.1 linear feet)
Abstract:
In 1942, Molly Johnson, an Australian woman, married Robert L. Wilson, an American aide-de-camp. Her papers consist of 21 letters written by Molly to her husband prior to her departure for the United States. The letters provide an Australia bride's perspective of the war bride experience after World War II.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1994. M-3064.4.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Molly Wilson Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.


Biography

In 1942, Molly Johnson, an Australian woman, married Robert L. Wilson, aide-de-camp to Admiral Van Hook of the 7th Fleet, at a naval base near Brisbane, Australia. Molly had worked at a nearby American army base before they married, but quit soon thereafter. When Robert was ordered to return to the United States in 1945, Molly had to wait with 5,000 other brides for transport to the United States.

During the long wait, Molly lived in barracks near the army base, passing her time reading, writing letters, and attending a flurry of parties and events put on by the Army, Navy, and the Brides' Club. Rumors abounded about the imminent arrival of transport ships. Molly wanted to return to her job at the army base, but she learned that family friends did not want her to work. "I'm tired," she wrote, "of well-meaning people telling me what to do" (1946 January 2). She never returned to work during her two months at the war brides' barracks, but instead took music lessons and wrangled with immigration officials.

On January 23, 1946, Frank DeCellis, Robert's fellow officer, notified Molly that he obtained passage for her on the Monterey in February, but cautioned her to keep it secret, because she was taking precedence over women who had been waiting longer. "The longer the husband has been in the States, the quicker the wife gets over..." (1946 January 2). Molly wrote that she "[p]ut the word around that she was going to Perth to see her mother, then she will get on the ship a day before the other brides."

She traveled to Sydney by train in early February, 1946, and was robbed of her wedding ring and money by someone she knew, but never named. In Sydney, she discovered that obtaining a petition was unnecessary due to passage of the War Brides' Act; she needed only to prove her marriage to a United States citizen. She boarded the Monterey on February 14, 1946, and arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, two weeks later.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Molly Wilson papers consist of 21 letters written by Molly to her husband Robert prior to her departure for the United States. The letters provide an Australia bride's perspective of the war bride experience after World War II.

There are two main areas of interest in the Wilson papers. First, Wilson's letters to her husband detail the process of emigrating to the United States. The War Brides' Act (Public Law 271) was passed by Congress on December 28, 1945 to facilitate "admission of alien spouses and alien minor children of citizen members of the United States armed forces." Wilson struggled with the Australian government attempting to ensure that her visa was valid and that she had a petition to enter the United States. Not until early February, a month after Congress had passed the War Brides' Act, did she learn that all that was needed to enter the United States was proof of being a war bride.

The second area of interest involves the interaction of Australian women with armed forces personnel stationed in Australia. Many brides met their husbands while employed at a United States military base. Molly wrote of how nice the officers are to the brides, having parties and screening movies for them. When the food at the war brides' barracks was inedible, the Army stepped in and provided food service for the brides. Naval officers secured her passage on the first bridal ship although she was low on the priority list.

During World War II, an estimated one million American soldiers married women from over fifty different countries. In the Pacific, 16,000 of the one million American soldiers married Australian and New Zealand women. The war brides represent the largest migration to the United States since the 1920s.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Australia--Emigration and immigration.
    • United States--Emigration and immigration.
    • War Brides--Australia.
    • World War, 1939-1945--War work--Australia.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1, World War II Small Collections Folders   9-15
    Molly Wilson papers,  1945 December 31-1946 February 28 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Shukert, Elfreda Berthiaume and Barbara Smith Scibetta. The War Brides of World War II. (Novato, Calif., 1988).

    Partial Subject Index
    Australia--Emigration and immigration.
    • 1945 December 31
    • 1946 January 2
    • 1946 January 4
    • 1946 January 8
    • 1946 January 11
    • 1945 [1946] January 13
    • 1946 January 15
    • 1946 January 18
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] January 19
    • 1946 January 20
    • [1946 January 21]
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 January 25
    • 1946 January 29
    • 1946 February 1
    • [1946 February 4]
    • 1946 February 9
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] February 10
    • [1946 February 13]
    DeCellis, Frank.
    • 1945 December 31
    • 1946 January 2
    • 1946 January 11
    • [1946 January 21]
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 February 10
    Dinners and dining.
    • 1946 January 4
    Elmore, Ray T.
    • [1946 February 13]
    Emigration and immigration--Australia.
    • passim
    Emigration and immigration--United States.
    • passim
    Eye--Inflammation.
    • 1946 January 11
    • 1945 [1946] January 13
    Intercountry marriage.
    • 1945[i. e. 1946] January 19
    Murder.
    • 1945 [1946] January 13
    Ocean travel.
    • 1946 January 4
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] January 19
    • 1946 January 20
    • [1946 January 21]
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 January 29
    • 1946 February 9
    • [1946 February 13]
    • [1946 February 28]
    Passports--Australia.
    • [1946 January 21]
    Stealing.
    • 1946 January 15
    • 1946 February 9
    • 1946 February 10
    United States. Navy--Promotions.
    • 1946 January 23
    United States--Emigration and immigration.
    • 1946 January 2
    • 1946 January 4
    • 1946 January 8
    • 1946 January 11
    • 1946 January 15
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] January 19
    • 1946 January 20
    • [1946 January 21]
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 January 25
    • 1946 January 29
    • 1946 February 1
    • [1946 February 4]
    • 1946 February 9
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] February 10
    • [1946 February 13]
    War Brides--Australia.
    • 1945 December 31
    • 1946 January 2
    • 1946 January 8
    • 1945 [1946] January 13
    • 1946 January 18
    • 1945 [i.e. 1946] January 19
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 January 25
    • 1946 February 1
    Wedding photography.
    • 1946 January 23
    • 1946 January 25
    World War, 1939-1945--War work--Australia.
    • 1945 December 31
    • 1946 January 2