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Larrabee Family Papers

An inventory of the family's papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: RMH
Date: 19 Jul 2021

Biographical History

Ethel Dowage Drawbridge (1879-1826) and William H. Larrabee II (1876-1916) were residents of Syracuse, New York before moving to Cologne, Germany where William opened his dentistry office. They lived in Germany until William's death in 1916, then Ethel and two sons moved back to Syracuse.

Ethel and William II's courtship lasted from before 1900 to 1904 when the two married in England. They had two boys, William H. III and Marshal Larrabee. Ethel and William II were a part of the same social circle in Syracuse, New York and met before William began studying dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1900. William cultivated a relationship with his mentor, American dentist Dr. Thurlow Patterson, who worked in Geneva, Switzerland. After gaining his dentistry degree, William apprenticed under Dr. Patterson for six months then assisted two doctors in Cologne, Germany. Once William was settled, Ethel met William in England in 1904 to marry. Then shortly after their wedding, they journyed on to their home in Germany. William and Ethel made a life for themselves in Cologne with Ethel writing regularly to her family living back in Syracuse. During the middle of the First World War, William died unexpectedly on 23 May 1916 in Cologne of peritonitis. Ethel, William III, and Marshal stayed in Germany after William II's death then eventually moved back to Syracuse. In late October 1926, Ethel suddenly died. Marshal, Ethel and William II's oldest son, received an outpouring of condolence letters and cards from various friends and classmates.

Ethel and William II's grandson and William III's son, William H. Larrabee IV also known as Tad, created a book using Ethel and William II's letters between 1903 and 1916 to recount their courtship and twelve years of married life.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Larrabee Family Papers consist of correspondence between the family members of the Larrabee family, mainly Ethel Dowage Drawbridge, William H. Larrabee II, and their oldest son Marshal Larrabee. Also within the collection is a book written by William III's son, William IV also known as Tad. He used letters between Ethel and William II and other research to write A Love Story in Letters, which details Ethel and William's courtship and twelve years of married life. Many, if not all, of the original letters used in Tad's book are found within this collection.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advance notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Drawbridge, Ethel Dowage, 1879-1926.
Larrabee family.
Larrabee, William H., II, 1876-1916.


Americans -- Germany.
Courtship -- 20th century.
Family life -- 20th century.
Love -- 20th century.
Marriage -- 20th century.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal narratives.


Cologne (Germany) -- Description and travel.
Cologne (Germany) -- Social life and customs.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Description and travel.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

Love letters.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Larrabee Family Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Tad Larrabee and Ethel D. Larrabee, 2021

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