Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Brainerd Family Papers, 1932-1946

Finding aid created by
Richard C. Bates and Meg Hixon, January 2012

Summary Information
Title: Brainerd family papers
Creator: Brainerd, Dorothy, Brainerd, Margaret, and Gioia, Anthony
Inclusive dates: 1932-1946
Bulk dates: 1942-1946
Extent: 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.
Language: The material is in English and Italian
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2004. M-4369.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Brainerd Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Newspaper clippings

Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Margaret Brainerd was born to Irish immigrants around 1887, and lived in Kingston, New York; she had two daughters: Margaret (b. ca. 1913) and Dorothy (b. ca. 1915). During the Second World War, Margaret lived in the Bronx, New York City, while Dorothy remained in Kingston with her mother. Margaret became engaged to her wartime boyfriend, Tony Gioia (b. ca. 1911), in late 1944, and Dorothy remained unmarried as of 1951. Gioia was the son of Leonardo and Tillie Gioia, first-generation Italian immigrants who lived in the Bronx. He attended the New York Military Academy before entering the United States Army in 1942. During the war, he served in Europe with the 381st Field Artillery Battalion and the 302nd Infantry Regiment, and he attained the rank of corporal before his return to the United States in 1946. He had at least one brother, Louis, and two sisters, Tillie and Mary.

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    • Camp Swift (Tex.)
    • Kingston (N.Y.)
    • Germany--History--1945-1955.
    • Korean War, 1950-1953--Participation, American.
    • United States. Army. Field Artillery Battalion, 381st.
    • United States. Army Air Forces. Fighter Squadron, 65th.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Coast Guard--History--World War, 1939-1945.
    • United States. Navy--History--World War, 1939-1945.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Europe.
    • Dingman, John.
    • Roosa, William.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-11
     January 17, 1932-December 1, 1945
    Box   2 Folders   1-3
     December 2, 1945-February 18, 1951, and  undated
    Newspaper clippings [series]
    Box   2 Folders   4-5
     [December 25, 1945] and  undated