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Ardessa L. Coffee Pitts Letters

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS 00233

Content Description

About 70 letters, telegrams and greeting cards from Ardessa (Dess) L. Coffee Pitts to her husband, Private Madison F. Pitts, who served with the 335th Aviation Squadron at Douglas Army Air Field (D.A.A.F) in Arizona during World War II. Most of the letters are personal in nature and express Ardessa's loneliness and desire for children. She also shared physical ailments and how she felt stress aged her. The letters include pledges of fidelity and sexual innuendos. Ardessa also frequently mentioned sending money to Madison.

Madison Pitts’ younger sister Susie Mae Nixon and her baby Rosalyn lived with Ardessa in Baltimore in April 1944; a letter from Madison’s other sister Rosa mentioned rumors about Susie Mae’s pregnancy and how she married quickly. Ardessa discussed her job as a Colored Assembler with Westinghouse and her plan to take vacation time. She also shared her USO fundraising efforts with a local lodge, possibly the Hiram Grand Lodge. In May 1944 Ardessa saw entertainer Paul Robeson at a military event. In June 1944, she traveled to Arizona (via Chicago) to stay with Madison.

7 letters from family include queries about Madison’s location and why he was not in touch more often. His sister Rosa’s letter explained Susie Mae’s situation and Susie Mae herself wrote to thank Madison and Ardessa for their hospitality.

Letters are arranged chronologically. Typed letter transcriptions (at front of box) are not in chronological order.


  • Creation: 1944 February- June


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Ardessa L. Pitts (nee Coffee)) was an African American woman born in Rhine Dodge, Georgia who lived in Baltimore, Maryland during World War II while her husband was stationed at Douglas Army Air Field in Arizona. Pitts worked as a Colored Assembler for Westinghouse and boarded with relatives.


0.25 Linear Feet



Guide to the Ardessa L. Coffee Pitts Letters
Mariaelena DiBenigno, SCRC staff.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository