Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Santo R. Ferrara Collection, 1943-1945

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, March 2012

Summary Information
Title: Santo R. Ferrara collection
Creator: Ferrara, Santo
Inclusive dates: 1943-1945
Extent: 37 items
This collection contains letters that Santo R. Ferrara received during his service in the United States Navy Seabees during World War II. His brother Henry offered advice about military life, and other military personnel commented on their experiences at bases in the United States. The collection also includes a letter that Ferrara wrote to his wife and daughter and a Christmas card that he sent to a friend.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1997. M-3359.3.

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:

Santo R. Ferrara Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Santo R. Ferrara enlisted in the United States Navy around October 1943 and served as a fireman and machinist's mate with a construction battalion (Seabees). After training at Camp Peary, Virginia, and Camp Endicott and Camp Thomas, Rhode Island, he served in the Pacific Theater near the end of World War II. During the war, Ferrara's wife Marjorie lived in West Somerville, Massachusetts, with their daughter Patty, who was born in late 1943. Henry Ferrara, Santo's brother, lived in Suitland Manor, Maryland, throughout much of the war and served in the Navy Reserve. Their brother Billy served with the United States Army in the Philippines until at least November 1945.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (37 items) contains letters that Santo R. Ferrara received during his service in the United States Navy Seabees during World War II, including 21 letters from his brother Henry, a member of the United States Navy Reserve, and numerous letters from other military personnel. Also included are a letter that Ferrara wrote to his wife and daughter and a Christmas card that he sent to a friend.

Henry Ferrara, who wrote from October 6, 1943-November 5, 1945, encouraged his brother to remain in the United States during the war, shared news of their mother and mutual acquaintances, and commented on his life and work in Washington, D.C. His single letter to Marjorie Ferrara congratulates her on the birth of her daughter (December 5, 1943).

Santo Ferrara's other correspondents included Paul Feldman Cox, who served with a navy demolition unit, and Corporal Tony Pirrone of the Army's 806th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Cox complained about his training at Camp Peary, Virginia, and described his work after a transfer to the Marine Corps unit; he was reassigned to Fort Pierce, Florida, in January 1944, where he became an instructor after his unit shipped out in late February. Pirrone discussed his experiences at Camp Rucker, Alabama; commented on his health; and shared his plans to get married after the end of the war. Ferrara also received a V-mail letter from James E. O'Toole, a member of Seabee Detachment 1040, about O'Toole's time in North Africa ([February] 12, 1944).

After the end of hostilities, Henry and Billy Ferrara wrote to their brother Santo about the possibility of being discharged under the military's point system. Billy Ferrara described the Philippines and expressed uncertainty as to whether he would become a member of the occupying forces. He also remarked on the bartering system between American soldiers and Filipino natives and shared the prices of commodities

Santo Ferrara wrote 2 items: a Christmas card to Mr. and Mrs. John Wallace of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (December 15, 1943), and a letter to his wife and daughter about his assignment to specialized classes at Camp Endicott, Rhode Island; his letter encloses a "C.B." emblem (December 22, 1943). The collection also contains a hand-colored illustration of a palm tree on a beach and the words "Happy Birthday," signed by Henry Ferrara.

Subject Terms

    • Camp Endicott (R.I.)
    • Camp Peary (Va.)
    • Fort Pierce (Fla.)
    • Fort Rucker (Ala.)
    • Military spouses--United States.
    • Philippines--History--1898-1946.
    • Soldiers--Alcohol use--United States.
    • United States. Army. Tank Destroyer Battalion, 806th.
    • United States. Navy--Military life.
    • United States. Navy--Reserves.
    • United States. Navy. Seabees.
    • Washington, D. C.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Philippines.
    • World War, 1939-1945--United States.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Beaches.
    • Palms.
    • Cox, Paul Feldman.
    • Ferrara, Billy.
    • Ferrara, Henry.
    • Pirrone, Tony.
    Genre Terms:
    • Christmas cards.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   8, World War II Small Collections  
    Santo R. Ferrara collection [series]
    Folders   17-20  
     October 6, 1943-November 5, 1945