Brainerd family papers  1932-1946 (bulk 1942-1946)
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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.

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