Eastside High student finishes work on World War II collection

October 15, 2014
Army jacket, dog tags, and letter is depicted

This summer, Public Services was delighted to have Lucia Ibarra, one of the Library's Eastside High School interns, work with us.  Lucia's project was to rehouse a previously unprocessed collection of World War II letters and note any interesting observations or information along the way.  The incredibly detailed notes she took will be used to create a finding guide (to be completed by December), but we wanted to share her description of her summer experience working with this archival collection:

In 1977, the Rube brothers (David, Conrad, Scott, William, Henry, John, and Peter) were selected to be the Grand Marshals of Fresno, California’s Veteran’s Day Parade. They received this honor because all seven brothers fought at the same time in World War II.  In fact, according to one newspaper clipping found in the collection, the brothers believed they held a national record as the largest group of siblings serving in the same war at the same time. Amazingly, they all survived.

While the brothers were fighting overseas, they wrote to their family in Fresno and to each other, totaling 162 letters. These letters—from all but one brother--reside in Stanford University’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives. The collection totals three boxes and includes David Rube’s dogtags, a jacket from one of the brothers, and multiple photograph negatives and newspaper clippings.

The letters begin with Conrad and Henry’s first letters sent in 1941 and end with the last letter from David dated December 6, 1946. The letters convey the close relationship the brothers had as a family and their deep desire to financially take care of each other. For example, each brother saved money from their military pay and would send a money order to one of the sisters to save, or put money into their personal savings account. The brothers were very giving and worried about the welfare of the family they left at home. Through the letters, the brothers conveyed unique personalities, yet there was that common concern about the family ranch in each of their letters.

It is also important to note that the collection highlights the significant role two of the Rube sisters played in the brothers’ lives. There were four sisters named Anne, Katherine, Margie, and Emma.  Anne was responsible for saving some of the brothers’ money and was in charge of distributing some of the money to the other members of the family. Moreover, she had the vital role of keeping the brothers up to date on their many addresses changes so they could all keep in touch with each other. Between the seven brothers, the Rubes served in both theaters, as there are letters from Germany, Austria, France, England, Sicily, the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, Korea, N.E. Indies, Africa, New Guinea, India and many more.  
Almost 70 years later, the letters are very fragile and some of them even have the ink fading away, but they still contain some wonderful and moving stories. Although the brothers tried to portray their experiences in the army as great and exciting, there are a couple of letters that confessed the truth. One of the brothers tried to convince the youngest brother, David Rube to not join the service. These letters give insight on some near death experiences and the reality of the army.

This collection is rich in the various ways it could be used to study primary sources.  I enjoyed going through this mysterious collection because I did not know what to expect from the letters. As I began to read, however, I discovered that the collection could be used to study each brother’s location, the role women played during the time period, and many more nuanced components of the war. These letters gave me insight on the family relationship and even different worries the brothers had. Unfortunately, the hardest part of working on this collection is having my summer internship end and not being able to answer all the questions I now have about the family—and to be able to just accept I might never know. 

The collection Lucia worked on can be found here: