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World War II Collection: A Sub-group of the Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Collection

Identifier: MSS 018

Scope and Contents

This collection is a part of a greater collection entitled The Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Papers. This particular grouping deals primarily with Musmanno’s direct work during and immediately after World War II. The World War II Collection consists of six boxes and eight scrapbooks, about 5.5 cubic feet of material. The records date from 1924-1968 with the bulk dates ranging from 1944-1946. The collection contains declassified military documents including personal records and communications for Musmanno. As well as personal writings, communications written in Italian, documents dealing with his work as the Governor of the Sorrentine Peninsula with the Allied Military Government. Furthermore, the collection holds clippings and correspondence Musmanno wrote and collected throughout his work in the European theater. The collection is broken up into five different series, the first one directly dealing with Musmanno’s military documents. The second series is devoted to writings both personal and commentary from other authors. The next three series consist of correspondence with Musmanno, clippings he collected, as well as the final series containing the scrapbooks. There are no further restrictions on this collection.


  • 1924 - 1968
  • Majority of material found within 1943 - 1946

Biographical / Historical

Michael A. Musmanno was born April 7, 1897, in Stowe Township, Allegheny County, PA. In 1923, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and worked several years as an attorney. He served 4 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and, in 1932; he began his lifelong career as a jurist. In 1951, he became a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. During the World War II, Captain Musmanno served as naval aide to General Mark Clark, Fifth Army, during the Italian invasion. Musmanno led the U.S. investigation to determine if Adolf Hitler died at the end of the war. He served as a presiding judge at the Nuremberg War Crime trials and retired from active duty as a rear admiral. During his postwar career, he was elected as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge, a position he held until his death. In 1964, Musmanno ran an unsuccessful campaign for United States Senate. Aside from his political career, he was a prolific writer, publishing twelve books, including Ten Days To Die, Black Fury, Across the Street From the Courthouse, The Story of Italians in America, and Columbus Was First as well as a number of short stories and articles. Judge Musmanno passed away at the age of 71 on Columbus Day, October 12, 1968.


5.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1: Military Documents This series deals specifically with the documentation and communications Judge Michael A. Musmanno received while serving in the United States Navy during the Second World War. Musmanno received a commissioning as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy at the start of the war. Eventually, Musmanno obtained a promotion to Commander and Captain during the war and finally Rear Admiral, years after the war was officially over. During his work with the U.S. Navy, Musmanno was an aide to General Mark Clark in Italy and later appointed the Military Governor of the Sorrentine Peninsula. The series ranges in time from 1924 to 1957. This series takes up about one cubic feet of space, and is located entirely within the first box. This first series is broken up into five subseries creating a more cohesive understanding of Musmanno’s work during the war. The first subseries is devoted to Official Paperwork that Musmanno obtained during his work in the European Theater of the Second World War. Included in the first series are documents pertaining to Musmanno’s early training and applications for commissioning into the U.S. Navy. Moreover, there are medical and training records as well as travel orders and commendations for Musmanno to receive awards and promotions. Finally, this series holds Musmanno’s military identifications and change of duty requests to work on the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. The next subseries in the collection contains handbooks and pamphlets Musmanno collected during his work with the U.S. Military in Italy. The third subseries in the collection includes documents primarily devoted to Musmanno’s time as Military Governor of the Sorrentine Peninsula. During his time in Sorrento, Musmanno was in charge of distributing foodstuffs to the citizens as well as issuing travel permits to move about the region. He also had to issue proclamations and prevent certain buildings from unneeded requisition. Italian Documents the last subseries in this collection is entirely made of Italian language documents. Large portions of the documents are handwritten and not translated. The arrangement of the subseries are chronological by year. This first series is a wonderful resource for researchers trying to understand Musmanno’s work during the War, where he was sent, and what duties he was assigned. Furthermore, it is useful as researchers might be able to determine areas in Italy in which the Allied powers were still fighting or, juxtapose Musmanno’s work to other work happening around the same time in other areas of the world.


Series 2: Writings The second series in the collections contains the documents devoted to the writings produced by Musmanno and other authors about the Second World War. One work in particular entitled The Captain and the Poison Gas by Glenn Infield is the harrowing story about how Musmanno’s patrol boat was bombed in the waters off of Sorrento. He was able to survive the poison gas attack because his clothing and skin was covering in olive oil after the contents of the cargo hold on his particular boat spilled into the water. The other ships were carrying illegal poison gas, which resulted in a number of military personnel dying from the surprise attack. Other documents included in the series Musmanno’s personal notes and accounts of his time in the Second World War especially in Italy. As well as Italian documents and initial accounts of the war itself. This series was split into four different subseries, the first series devoted to Musmanno’s personal writings; the second devoted to commentary on the Second World War, the third containing documents about General Mark Clark whom Musmanno served under, and the last series are all of the Italian documents Musmanno collected. This series is contained in a portion of box 1 and entirely in box 2. The dates of the series range from 1944 to 1963. This series is useful for researchers looking for other accounts of the War as well as a better understanding of Italian perspectives of the time.


Series 3: Correspondence This series is devoted to the correspondence Judge Musmanno had with other military and civilian personnel during the Second World War. This collection housed in boxes three, four and five and has been organized according to the persons Musmanno communicated with, some warranted their own folders. Musmanno could write and speak Italian fluently; therefore, a portion of his correspondence is in Italian, there is no translation attached. The dates of the series range from 1940 to 1965, with the bulk dates ranging from 1944-1945. This series is useful for researchers as it helps one to better understand Musmanno’s purpose in his correspondence as well as who regularly conversed with him.


Series 4: Clippings This fourth series in the collection contains the clippings that Judge Musmanno saved in regards to the Second World War. This series is located in the boxes 3-5. The dates of this series ranges from 1941-1968. The clippings house in this series range from a number of sources and cover a number of topics including Musmanno’s work during the Second World War, as well as his homecomings immediately after the war and again after the end of the Nuremberg Trials. In most cases, there are multiple copies of the same newspaper source, and an attempt was made to keep as many copies together as possible. This series is useful for historians researching looking to understand what local Pittsburgh papers thought about the Second World War, and the high regard a majority had of Musmanno. Additionally, the section of news clippings from the Stars and Stripes print, mirror Musmanno’s movements during the Second World War and is a useful tool for those trying to understand what might have been happening in the different areas of the world. Some clippings are old and fragile, so caution should be taken with handling them.


Series 5: Magazine Scrapbooks The last series contains the scrapbooks that Musmanno had complied during the war. In the scrapbooks are consecutive prints of Stars and Stripes or Yank. These scrapbooks range in date starting in 1944 and ending in 1946. This series is useful for researchers because, Stars and Stripes as well as Yank Magazine are great for propaganda purposes. More importantly the grouping of documents shows the progression of the war as they years continued especially as the focus on the frontline as detailed on the front page of the magazines changed depending on where important battles were being fought during the war.


The personal papers and library of the former Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justice, congressman, and author Michael A. Musmanno are located in the University Archives at Duquesne University. Documents include papers from Musmanno’s time as a defense attorney in the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, judge in the Nuremberg Trials, witness in the case against Adolf Eichmann, and interviews with Hitler’s associates. The collection also covers papers related to campaigns to end the Sunday Blue Laws, illegalize the Communist Party and to disband the Coal and Iron Police. This particular collection is an extension of these holdings, containing the papers of Judge Musmanno and his work during the Second World War. Included within the collection are military documentation, personal writings and commentary, correspondence and clippings containing newspaper scrapbooks devoted to Stars and Stripes Magazine. The largest part of the collection contains the military documents that Musmanno received. The clippings that he collected make up another large portion of the group, especially when the scrapbooks are included.

Processing Information

Processed by Gina DelGreco, March-April 2017

World War II Collection
Duquesne University Archives and Special Collection
Gina DelGreco
March-April 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement
Processed by Gina DelGreco, March-April 2017

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository