Library & Archives
Papers, c. 1900 - 1955
Processed by Jean Houston
Edited by Barbara Carver-Smith
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728
The Sussman Family Papers contain correspondence between Anna Schaffel and Herman Sussman and from Herman's mother, all of New York City, from 1915 March 30 to 1920 August 5. Most of the letters were exchanged during Herman's World War I service. In addition to the correspondence, the collection contains photographs of the Sussman family, dating from c. 1900 to 1955.
The initial group of correspondence between Anna and Herman relate to their courtship and to making arrangements to meet and date. At this time Anna's brother, Phil, was drafted into the service. There was the shock and remorse of family members, but then, as emotions died down, the reality was accepted.
After Herman was drafted, he and Anna wrote each other voluminously, often writing 2 and 3 times a day. At boot camp the hours were long, the work is tedious, boring, and constant. Herman's only relief was the occasional movie shown at the YMCA and mail call.
Herman was classified C-3, domestic service only, because of foot problems. In his letters home he asks for $5 - $10 for "essentials" (stamps, paper, soap, etc.) not supplied by the Army. He waits for news of the war and hears little, if any. Waiting and hoping it will be over soon so "everyone can go home," he worries about his "ma" and "Honey Babe." On October 7, 1918 Herman writes that the "general feeling [is that the] fighting will be over by Christmas." On 1918 October 18, he writes, "About Germany accepting the peace terms this is camaflouge. The only terms worth while are unconditional surrender."
Herman's letters often mention his mother, who owned an import business in New York City. He writes to her with bits of news and information and tells Anna to speak to her about these letters. On 1918 October 9, Herman's mother wrote to the President with a plea to release her son from service or possible work closer to home at the arsenal in New York where Herman worked between January and August of 1918.In September 1918 Herman was assigned to "a company permanently attached to this post." " and was given "kitchen police" duty. He complains that the worst possible jobs are given to Jewish soldiers. By October 14, 1918 he realized that his mother's letter writing campaign is "no good" -- he would not get out until all the drafted men are sent out. 1918 October 22, "Service Company is a polite name for camp laborers, with the exception of office jobs [which Herman has just acquired]. The rest [of the soldiers] get jobs that are handed out as punishments in the rest of the army." "This is as bad as a term in prison."
The remaining bulk of material from Herman is very similar, always detailing the day's activities, professions of love for Anna, and concerns about the family he has left behind. The last letter from Herman is dated November 3, 1918.
Anna's letters to Herman during the same time period are much more emotional. She is always upset, worried, and afraid that Herman is going to be sick, that he is not eating enough, that he is working too hard, or that he is being abused and mistreated. She wants to get married and while Herman is away they make final plans to do just that. She always asks how he his, then gives him the minute details of her day. She keeps him abreast of home life, his mother, and what the general population is doing and thinking.
In addition to correspondence written during World War I, there are letters from Herman to Anna who is vacationing in Long Branch, N.J. between June 1 and August 5, 1920. His last letter indicates that he is about to lose his job, and has been out looking for work.
The photographs are black and white snapshots (with a few color snapshots and cyanotypes) of Sussman and Schaffel family members in New York City, around the home in Monmouth County. There are images of son Edward R. Sussman as a young man in local swing bands, at the University of Miami, in uniform in World War II, and as a bugler at Monmouth Park. There is an interesting photograph of Edward in his Monmouth Park bugler uniform with trumpeter Harry James clowning with the bugle (1950) [Photo S-249] and a cyanotype of a waterfall (perhaps Niagra Falls) [Photo S-510].
Size of Collection: 5 manuscript boxes
Box # / Folder # / Contents
1 / 1 / Letters, 1915 March 30 - December 4. 2 items
1 / 2 / Letters, 1917 January 10 - December 17. 24 items
1 / 3 / Letters, 1918 January 26 - August 30. 26 items
1 / 4 / Letters, 1918 September 4 - September 18. 33 items
1 / 5 / Letters, 1918 September 19 - September 30. 26 items
1 / 6 / Letters, 1918 October 1 - October 14. 36 items
1 / 7 / Letters, 1918 October 15 - October 22. 21 items
1 / 8 / Letters, 1918 October 22 - November 3. 26 items
1 / 9 / Letters, 1920 June 1 - August 5. 13 items
2 / - / Photographs, S-257 through S-338; S-342 through S-355
3 / - / Photographs, S-1 through S-81; S-85 through S-90
4 / - / Photographs, S-91 through S-224
5 / - / Photographs, S-225 through S-249; S-252 through S-256; S-356 through S-437
6 / - / Photographs, S-82 through S-84; S-250; S-251; S-339 through S-341; S-438 through S-581
6 / - / Miscellaneous: Programs, report cards, post cards, etc.
This page last updated 14 July 2008.