Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Frederick Lafferty Diaries, 1906, 1941-1946

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2012

Summary Information
Title: Frederick Lafferty diaries
Creator: Lafferty, Helen
Inclusive dates: 1906, 1941-1946
Bulk dates: 1941-1942
Extent: 7 items
This collection is made up of 5 diaries that Frederick Lafferty composed while serving with the United States Army during World War II. Lafferty, who worked in a communications unit, described his experiences at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Victoria, Australia; New Caledonia; and Guadalcanal.
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:

2000. M-4084 .

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:

Frederick Lafferty Diaries, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically by each volume's beginning date.


Frederick Lafferty of Dorchester, Massachusetts, had at least one sister, Helen. He joined the United States Army on March 24, 1941, and served in a communications unit in New Caledonia and Guadalcanal from March to November 1942. Lafferty was a non-commissioned officer. He died during the war.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 5 diaries that Frederick Lafferty composed while serving with the United States Army during World War II. Lafferty, who worked in a communications unit, described his experiences at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Victoria, Australia; New Caledonia; and Guadalcanal. The volumes cover March 24, 1941, and November 17, 1942, with detailed entries for January 20, 1942-August 11, 1942, and October 1, 1942-November 17, 1942.

Lafferty began his first diary with his enlistment and early training in the United States, and started keeping regular entries in late January 1942, after his deployment overseas. In a note to Helen dated August 15, 1942 (pp. 27-29), Lafferty indicated his desire for her to read his diary. He anticipated an upcoming assignment, and shared his belief in military service as a duty to one's country.

Lafferty wrote about his experiences onboard the transport ship Santa Elena while traveling from the United States to Australia via the Panama Canal; his stay in Ballarat and Melbourne, Australia; and his journey to New Caledonia, where he remained for several months. As a member of a communications unit, he often worked in a "message room" and reported rumors of upcoming maneuvers and news of recent battles; his unit worked in cooperation with French radio operators. He heard, and related, stories of Marines who had participated in combat against Japanese forces.

Lafferty's diaries primarily reflect aspects of soldiers' daily lives, such as meals and the poor quality of the food, mail, inspections, leisure activities, and religious habits. A Catholic, he often reported his discussions with priests, attended mass, and prayed the rosary. He also occasionally discussed air raids and training exercises.

Lafferty's final diary almost exclusively concerns his active participation during the Guadalcanal campaign. This diary also has a list of items the soldiers carried (pages 34-35).

Non-textual matter includes a picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill posed next to the Statue of Liberty and the flags of the United States and Britain (cover of the 3rd diary). Also, an entry is written on the inside of a Philip Morris cigarette package (laid into the 5th diary).

Two of the diaries contain enclosures:

  • Volume 1
    • Printed maps of Ballarat, Australia [ca. 1942]
    • La France Australe, New Caledonia newspaper (August 13, 1942)
  • Volume 5
    • Recipe for developing film (undated)
    • United States Army bulletin regarding military information and artillery practices, "Sterling Brand" Grape Juice, and battle precautions (August 9, 1942)
    • Real photograph postcard from Fred to Mrs. Eliza Lafferty, Boston, Massachusetts (September 4, 1906)
    • New Caledonia stamp [ca. 1942]

The collection holds two loose items. The first is a letter from Frederick Lafferty to his sister Helen about his intention to send her his diaries after the conclusion of the war. The other is a printed program for a memorial service held by the Elks of Boston, Lodge No. 10. Frederick Lafferty is recognized in a list of "Deceased Brothers," 1945-1946.

Subject Terms

    • Ballarat (Vic.)
    • Camp Edwards (Mass.)
    • Families of military personnel--United States.
    • Guadalcanal, Battle of, Solomon Islands, 1942-1943.
    • Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands)
    • Melbourne (Vic.)
    • New Caledonia--Description and travel.
    • Soldiers--Religious life.
    • Soldiers--United States--Diaries.
    • United States. Army--Communication systems.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Marine Corps.
    • Victoria--Description and travel.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Ballarat (Vic.)--Maps.
    • Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965.
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
    • Lafferty, Frederick, d. 1945 or 1946.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Maps.
    • Memorandums.
    • Newspapers.
    • Photographic postcards.
    • Postage stamps.
    • Recipes.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   10, World War II Small Collections  
    Frederick Lafferty diaries [series]
    Folder   1  
    Frederick Lafferty diary,  March 24, 1941-August 11, 1942
    Folder   2  
    Frederick Lafferty diary,  January 20, 1942-July 3, 1942
    Folder   3  
    Frederick Lafferty diary,  July 3, 1942-July 23, 1942
    Folder   4  
    Frederick Lafferty diary,  July 24, 1942-July 31, 1942
    Folder   4  
    Frederick Lafferty diary,  October 1, 1942-November 17, 1942
    Folder   5  
    Letter and Program,  December 1, 1946, and  undated