Kearney family papers

Collection 4187

(2.8 Linear feet ; 9 boxes, 1 flat file)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Kearney family papers
Date [inclusive]
2.8 Linear feet ; 9 boxes, 1 flat file
Finding aid prepared by Susan E. Kearney.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Kearney family papers, (Collection 4187), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Scope and content note

Francis Joseph Kearney (1919-1995) was a third-generation American of Irish descent, tracing all of his great-grandparents to the generation that fled Ireland during the great Famine (1845-1848). After being drafted into the U.S. Army, 29th Infantry, in 1942, he trained in England where he met his future wife, Edith Doreen Govier, an English nurse. Frank Kearney was a radioman with Regimental Headquarters, 115th Division. On D-day, he and his unit were part of Operation Overlord; he came ashore on Omaha beach late on 6 June 1944 and served with the 29th through the Battle of St. Lo and through to Bremen, Germany. In June 1945, he returned to England to marry his English war bride. The couple had about a week to plan the wedding and spend time together. Frank then returned to Germany and finally was sent home to Philadelphia via England in September 1945. In March 1946, his wife arrived in New York as part of the massive influx of war brides. She travelled on a troop ship, the E. B. Alexander, with a boat full of other women and children coming to their new homes and lives in a foreign country.

This collection has been divided into three series. The first series centers on the lives of Francis Joseph Kearney and Edith Doreen Govier (aka Frank and Doreen). The second and largest series includes materials related to World War II, war bride stories, and the 29th Infantry. The third collection contains family memorabilia from not only Frank and Doreen but also from their eldest daughter, Susan Kearney (1948- ).

The first series includes genealogical notes on Francis Kearney’s Irish Roots going back to his great-grandparents, the famine generation: Michael Kearney and Mary Ann McGuigan, James Fitzpatrick and Mary T. Finnegan, Matthew Patton and Mary Smith, and Patrick Shannon and Sarah Murray. In some cases, the names of his great-great grandparents are also noted. No genealogy is included for Edith Doreen Govier because her line has been developed in a published book entitled A Bold Peasantry: The Ancestry of Bert and Mabel Govier of Chulmleigh, Devon. The book is part of HSP’s family genealogical collection. This series also includes copies of letters Frank sent to Doreen from the spring of 1944 through March 1946 upon her arrival in Philadelphia. These letters are personal in nature with few details about the war itself. There are copies of Doreen’s nursing lecture notes including some detailed drawings from a class in anatomy and physiology from her time studying at Oxford, and a copy of her Civil Nursing Reserve Certificate. Some newspaper clippings from 1944-1946, three telegrams from Frank to Doreen, and a copy of a page from the E. B. Alexander’s ship manifest complete this part of the collection.

Series II is rich in World War II material. The series begins with ten war brides’ stories. These stories vary in detail. They were collected by Frank and Doreen’s eldest daughter, Susan. There is also a CD of a conversation between two of these women, Doreen Kearney and Violet Halas, recalling how each met their husbands and the difficulties faced in arranging marriages given the time constraints of military servicemen during the war. Newspaper articles on war brides, together with two books on the subject, are part of this series. A pamphlet entitled “The 29th Lands on Omaha Beach [Box 2, Folder 6] by Louis M. Gosorn (1951) begins the collection’s focus on the 29th Infantry. There are copies of the Infantry’s shoulder insignias, an undated pamphlet titled after the unit’s famous battle cry: “29, Let’s Go,” and three unit movement maps showing routes from Britain to Bremen, Germany. The bond developed by the men of the 29th during the war remained strong for many for the rest of their lives. The Philadelphia Post of the National 29ers was Post 92. Frank Kearney remained active in this from the group’s inception shortly after the war ended until his death in 1995. Post 92 held annual events and this collection contains many photographs (some identified) of the men at various reunions, often at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, PA. The Unit’s national newsletter, “The Twenty-Niner” contains many personal war stories; this series has an incomplete collection of the newsletters from 1979-2018 publications. Other items of note include original letters written by John Tyrrell, an Englishman stationed in Palestine during the turbulent post-war years, to Doreen Kearney (1945-1946); a war-time map of Paris; a copy of Frank Kearney’s Certificate honoring his part in the liberation of St. Lo; two letters sent by British school children to Yank soldiers; a photograph of Heavyweight Joe Lewis visiting British troops; articles on the incident at Slapton Sands (1944); D-Day commemorative newspapers and magazines; and the program from the dedication of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia in 2001.

Two additions to Series II were added to the Collection in 2023. These are housed in Boxes 8 and 9. Box 8 contains some personal papers belonging to a friend and fellow-29er of Francis Kearney. Frank Oberle and his wife Jane were active in the National Association with Frank serving as the Association's President Commander and its National Chaplain. During the War, he served with Co "L" Infantry, survived Omaha Beach on D-Day and earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. The remainder of Box 8 contains additional copies of "The Twenty-Niner" with incomplete dates ranging from 2005-2023. Of note is the edition from Autumn/Winter 2023 that highlights an article about Bodmin written by Frank and Doreen's daughter Susan. The event involved a replacement plaque at Bodmin Keep (Victoria Barracks during World War II) where Frank Kearney was stationed in 1943. Box 9 contains Sheet Music belonging to Doreen, mostly dated from 1939-1950 with a heavy emphasis on World War II selections such as "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "A Badge from Your Coat," When They Sound the Last All Clear," and "Light Out, 'Til Reveille." One piece of note is a copy of "The Star Spangled Banner" printed as part of a collection of Allies' national anthems. Doreen signed this copy on July 4, 1944. She was recently engaged to Frank in late May 1944. At the time Doreen purchased this piece of music, Frank was fighting in Normandy and she was planning a future in the USA.

Series III is a small collection of family memorabilia. Passenger lists and menus from the SS United States (1953) and RMS Queen Elizabeth I (1957) show that Doreen Kearney was able to return home for visits with her daughters, Susan and Christine. As a member of the Collegiate Cathedral Choir of SS Peter and Paul from 1970 to 1980, daughter Susan participated in the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, sang the Canonization of St John Neumann in Rome, and sang for Pope John Paul II when he visited the city in 1979. Photographs, newspaper articles, a CD recording, and liturgical programs commemorate these events. As a teacher, Susan also moderated the yearbook at Cecilian Academy, a small Catholic girls’ school in Germantown that is now permanently closed. The collection has yearbooks from this school (1971-1974) and Frank Kearney’s yearbook from North Catholic (1938). Mary Mauger was Frank Kearney’s great aunt. Some papers from her and her husband John including the Owner’s Service Policy for a 1936 Plymouth Tour Sedan, Veteran’s notes from 1929-1934, and Income Tax returns from 1950-1953, reflect the economics of middle-class life in the mid-20th century. Life in the early 21st century is represented through Doreen Kearney's Smarty Jones memorabilia. The Philadelphia-based horse created a local sensation when he was only the second Pennsylvania-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 2004. The horse easily won the Preakness but failed in his attempt to be the 12th Triple Crown winner in June 2004.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2019.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Gift of Susan Kearney, 2018.

Accession number 2018.110.

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Collection Inventory

Francis J. Kearney and Edith Doreen Kearney (nee Govier) 

Box Folder

Genealogy charts 2018 

1 1

Letters: Frank Kearney 1944 - September 13, 1945 

1 2

Letters: Frank Kearney September - October 1945 

1 3

Letters: Frank Kearney November 1945 

1 4

Letters: Frank Kearney December 1945 - January 1946 

1 5

Letters: Frank Kearney February - March 1946 

1 6

Letter: Doreen Kearney April 1, 1946 

1 7

Civil Nursing Reserve Certificate (copy), Edith Govier 21 April 1944 

1 8

Nursing Lectures, E. D. Govier January 1945 

1 9

Lecture Notes and Drawings, Anatomy and Physiology (copy), Oxford 1945 

1 10

Nursing Exams, Doreen Govier 1945 

1 11

Ship Manifest, Copy of page from E. B. Alexander 27 March 1946 

1 12

Newspaper Clippings 1944-1946 

1 13

Three Telegrams by Frank Kearney 1943-1945 

1 14

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World War II: War Brides' Stories, 29th Infantry, and Other Memorabilia 

Box Folder

War Brides' Stories 1: Edith D. Kearney (nee Govier) 1945-2017 

1 15

War Brides' Stories 2: Sheila Paras (nee Giddings) 1993 

1 16

War Brides' Stories 3: Margaret Stackowitz (nee Harris) 1993 

1 17

War Brides' Stories 4: Yetty Verbeek (nee Bill) 1993 

1 18

War Brides' Stories 5: Florence Baker (nee Rickard) 1993 

1 19

War Brides' Stories 6: Joan Peischel (nee Walker) 1993 

1 20

War Brides' Stories 7: Ann Porcellini (nee Clark) 1993 

1 21

War Brides' Stories 8-9: Fragments - Nellie McGinn (nee Mason) and Elsie Duncan 1993 

1 22

War Brides' Stories 10: Violet Halas (nee Corrigan) 2001 

1 23

War Brides Reminisce: Edith Doreen Kearney and Violet Halas 2001 

1 24

Poem: "Tales of Tidworth" Undated 

2 1

War Brides of World War II by Elfrieda Berthiaume Shukert and Barbara Smith Scibetta 1988 

2 2

A War Bride's Guide to the U.S.A.. Reprint of Good Housekeeping book from June 1945. 2006 

2 3

Newspaper Article on War Brides 18 March 2006 

2 4

Articles on War Brides and the Fate of their marriages 1944-1947, undated 

2 5

Pamphlet: "The 29th Lands on Omaha Beach" by Colonel Louis M. Gosorn 3 February 1951 

2 6

29th Infantry: Shoulder Insignias for the 115th, 116th, 175th undated 

2 7

Pamphlet: "29, Let's Go" undated 

2 8

Photographs: Post 92 (Philadelphia Post) of 29th Infantry, Reunions and Meetings 1975-1982, undated 

2 9

29th Infantry: Congratulations certificates from Senate of Pennsylvania to Post 92 2 June 1987 

2 10

29th Infantry: Members' list, Post 92 August 1994 

2 11

Newspaper Article: "50 Years Later: 29th Infantry Members Return to France," Philadelphia Inquirer. 5 June 1994 

2 12

29th Infantry: Three Movement Maps from Britain to Bremen, Germany undated 

File 1
Box Folder

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter (includes reports om 35th reunion in Normandy, France) December 1979 

2 13

"The Twenty Niner" newsletter April 1981 

2 14

"The Twenty Niner" newsletter July 1992 

2 15

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter July 1993 

2 16

"The Twenty-Niner" newletter July 1996 

2 17

'The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 1999 

2 18

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters July and November 2000 

2 19

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters March, July, and November 2001 

2 20

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters March, July, and November 2002 

2 21

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters March, July, and November 2003 

2 22

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter March 2004 

2 23

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters July and November 2009 

3 1

"The Twenty-Niner" newletters March and July 2010 

3 2

"The Twenty-Niner" newletter November 2010 

3 3

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters July and November 2011 

3 4

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletters Spring 2012, Autumn/Winter 2013 

3 5

29th Infantry: Dedication Program for Freedom's Foundation, Valley Forge, PA 1 September 1974 

3 6

29th Infantry: Reactivation ceremony program and Freestate Guardian 1984-1985 

3 7

29th Infantry: Reunion booklets 1969, 1971, 1973 

3 8

29th Infantry: Reunion booklets 1989, 1991, 1995 

3 9

29th Infantry: Reunion booklet and Dedication of the National D-Day Memorial 2001 

3 10

29th Infantry: Miscellaneous 

3 11

Map of Paris, Distributed by American Red Cross 1944-1945 

3 12

Letters from John Tyrrell (in Palestine) to Doreen Kearney June 1945 - June 1946 

3 13

Postcards: Chulmleigh, Devon; Bodmin, Devon; Slapton Sands 1953, 1984 

3 14

"D-Day to St. Lo" certificate (copy) undated 

3 15

Letters from British school children to "Yank"soldiers and Letter to troops from President Roosevelt 1944, undated 

3 16

Photographs from Bodmin, Devon, UK (including one of Joe Lewis, heavyweight fighter with British troops) 1942-1944 

3 17

War Ration Book Four undated 

3 18

Post-war "Guide to the British Isles" 1947 

3 19

Copy of "Broadcast in AEF Weekly" with focus on 29th Infantry by Edward V. Roberts 24 December 1944 

3 20

The Story of Slapton Sands including a pamphlet entitled "The American Forces at Salcombe and Slapton during World War II, " by Muriel and David Murch and Len Fairweather 1984, undated 

4 1

Commemorative Articles: 40th and 45th Anniversaries of D-Day, Incident at Slapton Sands 1984, 1987, 1989, undated 

4 2

Second World War Posters, replicas, by Joseph Darracott and Belinda Loftus, Imperial War Museum 1972 

4 3

D-Day Prayer: Replica 6 June 1944 

4 4

Replica Newspapers 6 June 1944 and 15 August 1945 

4 5

Pamphlet: "The Normandy Landings," by General Jean Compagnon 1979 

4 6

Commemorative Magazines: 50th Anniversary of D-Day 1994 

4 7

Commemorative Newspapers: 50th Anniversay of D-Day 1994 

4 8

Pamplet: Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial 1973 

4 9

Program from the dedication of The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia 6 June 2001 

4 10

Frank and Jane Oberle papers 1943-2021 

8 1

Frank Oberle: World War II Memorabilia 1943-1944 

8 2

Frank Oberle: Miscellaneous 29th Association Memorabilia 

8 3

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 2005 

8 4

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter March 2006 

8 5

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter July 2006 

8 6

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 2006 

8 7

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter March 2007 

8 8

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter July 2007 

8 9

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 2007 

8 10

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter July 2008 

8 11

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 2008 

8 12

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter March 2009 

8 13

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter November 2009 

8 14

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter March 2011 

8 15

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Autumn/Winter 2012 

8 16

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Spring 2016 

8 17

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Spring 2017 

8 18

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Summer 2017 

8 19

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Autumn/Winter 2017 

8 20

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Autumn/Winter 2018 and Autumn/Winter 2023 

Notable article

The featured article in the Autumn/Winter 2023 edition was written by Susan Kearney. It tells about her involvement with Bodmin Keep as a result of her parents' meeting in that town in 1943. It shows the unveiling of a refurbished plaque honoring the men of the 29th who were housed at Bodmin from the spring of 1943 until they departed England for the D-day invasion in June 1944.

8 21

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1917-1937 

9 1

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1940 

Notable selections

"A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" "A Badge from Your Coat"

9 2

"The Star Spangled Banner" from National Songs of the Allies Signed by Doreen Govier on July 4, 1944 1941 

Interesting note

Doreen purchased this on July 4, 1944. She had gotten engaged in late May 1944. Frank was fighting in Normandy at the time she purchased this piece of music, part of a collection of national anthems of Britain's allies.

9 3

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1941 

Noted selections

"Light Out, Til Reveille" "When They Sound the Last All Clear"

9 4

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1942 

9 5

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1943 

9 6

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Govier 1944 

9 7

Sheet Music Unsigned 1933-1947 

9 8
Folder Box

Sheet Music Signed by H. Gordon Govier (brother to Doreen Govier) 1931-1936 

9 9
Box Folder

Sheet Music Signed by Christine Govier (sister to Doreen Govier) 1943-1948 

9 10

Copies of Signed Sheet Music 1942, 1945 

Notable Selections

"The White Cliffs of Dover" "One Day When We Were Young"

9 11

Sheet Music Unsigned Copies 1902, 1937 

Noted Selection

"Land of Hope and Glory" with British words

9 12

Sheet Music Signed by Doreen Kearney (nee Govier) 1946 

9 13

Sheet Music Unsigned 1903-1945 

9 14

Songbook 1927 

9 15

Sheet Music Unsigned 1946-1952 

9 16

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Family Memorabilia 

Box Folder

SS United States: Menus and Passenger Lists 1953 

5 1

RMS Cunard Passenger Lists 1948, 1957 

5 2

Peter LaManna Memorabilia 1990 

5 3

Lenten Ecumenical Service Program in Preparation of the 41st Eucharistic Congress 14 March 1976 

5 4

Opening Mass of the Eucharistic Congress (CD), Philadelphia August 1976 

5 5

Commemorative Program: 41st International Eucharistic Congress August 1976 

5 6

Photographs: Cathedral Choir at Papal Visit October 1979 

5 7

Commemorative Programs: John Cardinal Krol Anniversary and Canonization of John Neumann June 1977 

5 8

Mary Mauger: Case Against Ruth Heller, tenant 1979-1980 

5 9

John and Mary Mauger, Income Tax Returns 1950-1953 

5 10

Papers on Sale of 1936 Plymouth Tour Sedan with Owner's Service Policy 14 March 1935 

5 11

John Mauger, Veteran's Notes 1929, 1930, 1934 

5 12

Mauger Memorabilia 1921-1962, undated 

5 13

Mauger Religous Memorabilia 1924-1963, undated 

5 14

Letter 10 March 1950 

5 15

Churchill Cabinet War Rooms Admission Ticket undated 

5 16

The Charity School Movement in Colonial Pennsylvania by Samuel Edwin Weber 1905 

5 17

North Catholic Yearbook 1938 

5 18

Nonny and the Peppermint Lady by Susan Elizabeth Kearney May 2012 

5 19

Old Postcards of Philadelphia 1907-1941, undated 

5 20

Cecilian Academy Yearbook 1972 

6 2
Box Folder

Cecilian Academy Yearbook 1971 

6 1

Cecilian Academy Yearbook 1973 

6 3

Cecilian Academy Yearbook 1974 

6 4

Cecilian Academy Reunion Booklet 2005 

6 5

St. Bartholomew's RC, Historical Sketch 1919-1939 

6 6

St. Bartholomew's RC Memorial Book and Jubilee Pamphlet 1919-1994 

6 7

Smarty Jones: Forever a Champion by Billy Valentine and Team Smarty 2004 

6 8

Smarty Jones calendar, signed 2005 

6 9

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: Correspondence 2004-2005 

7 1

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: photographs and prints undated 

7 2

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: Pre-Derby April 24-30, 2004 

7 3

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: Kentucky Derby-Pre PreaknessSmarty Jones Scrapbook: Kentucky Derby-Pre Preakness May 1-14, 2004 

7 4-5

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: The Preakness May 15, 2004 

7 6

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: Post-Preakness to Belmont May 16-June 4, 2004 

7 7-8

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: The Belmont and Aftermath of TC Races June 5-30, 2004 

7 9

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: The Aftermath July 2004-2008 

7 10-11

Smarty Jones Scrapbook: "Smarty Jones: Heart of a Champion" from Mitchness Museum Exhibition May 8- June 19, 2005 

7 12
Box Folder

"The Twenty-Niner" newsletter Autumn/Winter 2018 

8 21

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