Remembering Pearl Harbor: Personal Stories Salvaged from the USS Arizona
Personal Story Saved from the USS Arizona: 72 Years Later
A big challenge in preserving paper is dealing with the consequences of how records were maintained during the time they were actively used. Navy personnel records are difficult ones. Folded in thirds to fit into “jackets” or “bricks,” as the expandable brown folders are called, pages get torn, creased, and scrunched, requiring treatment. In the case of career Seaman 1st class Walter Lewis Hampton, the record is one hefty assemblage of papers spilling out of the small folder. Enlisted in 1925, Hampton served on the USS Henderson, the Arkansas, and the Wyoming, among others, before reporting for his final duty in December 1940 when he joined the USS Arizona.
Hampton’s sizable record contains a very special segment of documents - the Service Record kept on board the Arizona itself. This portion of his record was maintained to keep at close hand information on his enlistment, service, training, and physical description while at sea. It was among the records salvaged by the Navy after the loss of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7th, 1941. As Archives staff identifies records damaged aboard the Arizona, they are brought to the Paper Lab.
Hampton was among the missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He left four children and a wife who had initiated divorce proceedings on the grounds of years of abandonment. Although bearing the scars of the attack, his service record still details his personal description. Brown hair, blue eyes, a ruddy face, and tattoos—a kewpie doll, sailor boy, Red Cross nurse, pig, and rooster. This personal information is all perfectly maintained despite the bloom of heat from the center of the booklet, or accretions of dirt along the edges of the pages that still remain from long ago blasts. For these special documents, not only the information they contain but the remnant damage of battle itself preserve an important piece of history.
Remembering Pearl Harbor - USS Nevada escapes
The Japanese air attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii began at 8:01 AM, Sunday, December 7, 1941. The Nevada, tied up with the U.S. Pacific Fleet, brought down several attacking planes. Although she sustained many hits; she was able to slip her mooring and unsuccessfully attempted to reach the open sea. The logbook entry describes those first harrowing 40 minutes of the attack that resulted in over 100 wounded and 47 killed or missing crewmembers.
The entire entry for December 7th 1941 can be viewed in our catalog: Logbook of the USS Nevada
Photograph of the USS Nevada beached at Hospital Point after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/07/1941
National Miner’s Day
December 6 is the anniversary of the Monongah, West Virginia Mining Disaster, the worst in U.S. history, on December 6, 1907.
"James Robert Howard has gotten his safety lamp at lamp house. Of the 232 employees at this mine, 60% are Negroes., 08/13/1946"
Russell Lee, photographer.
(Ed. note: corrected photographer credit)
It’s not Dr. Who’s TARDIS, but we hope you’ll find this 1940s-era Lancaster County, PA phone booth a close approximation on the 50th anniversary of everyone’s favorite time lord!
"Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Public phone booths like this one are common in Conservative Amish and Mennonite communities, since telephones are not allowed in homes. 03/17/1941"
Irving Rusinow, photographer
"U.S. troops go over the side of a Coast Guard manned combat transport to enter the landing barges at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, as the invasion gets under way., 11/1943"
The Bougainville campaign by the Allies to dislodge Japanese forces from the strategically placed island off Papau New Guinea by the Allies began 70 years ago today on November 1, 1943, with an amphibious landing by U.S. Marines and a naval engagement.
Old enough to vote?
Michigan Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg introduced Senate Joint Resolution 166 on October 19, 1942. This resolution would have amended the Constitution of the United States and extended the vote to
citizens 18 years or older. Although not ratified at the time, the proposal came up again, during the Vietnam War. The 26th Amendment was ratified on July 1, 1971.
Senate Joint Resolution 166 Proposing the 26th Amendment, 10/19/1942
On September 11, 1945, Frances Curtis, a trustworthy, law-abiding, and loyal citizen, and “Very Good” typist, was passed over for a position at White House due to unpaid tuition bill and a superficial connection to organizations “considered Communistic in nature.”
Five years before the era of McCarthyism began, Frances Curtis’s application for a White House pass was denied by the Secret Service because “superficially, it appears that this applicant may have been directly connected with the Communist Party.”
Read the story of Frances Curtis and decide for yourself if her application should have been denied: http://go.usa.gov/47kP
Her file is one of the thousands of recently opened Secret Service records that are now available for research at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Image: Frances Curtis’s application, courtesy of the Truman Library.
A Wave Winds-Up
WAVE [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] activities at Jacksonville, Florida. Violet Falkum, AMM, spins prop of SNJ, training plane., 09/1943
Victor Jorgensen, photographer. From the General Photographic File of the Department of the Navy, 1943 - 1958
"The old (Pacific) swimmin’ hole. Come on in mates; the water’s fine. And there’s plenty of it between the coast of California and the shores of the Philippines. Coast Guardsmen and Marines "beat the heat" by taking a dip from the side of the ship., 1944"
What’s your favorite way to beat the heat over Labor Day weekend?