This 238-item digital collection of World War II-era correspondence, dating between 1943 and 1945, focuses on Captain O.C. McDavid’s tour of duty in the Pacific Theatre of war. These letters consist of his letters to family members and their letters to him. Many of his letters home are illustrated with cartoons and drawings, thus providing visual interest to Captain McDavid’s descriptions of army life.
As with much wartime correspondence, censorship of operations and engagements with Axis forces allow only scant details for those interested in the minutiae of South Pacific strategy. Instead, what emerges in these letters has to do with McDavid’s observations of foreign cultures and how they relate to the struggle for the South Pacific.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, McDavid was sent to the South Pacific. During his Army service he was stationed in New Guinea, the Gilbert Islands, a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the South Pacific, and in the Philippines. In New Guinea, Captain McDavid was placed in charge of establishing village governments with local populations and building infrastructure to support sanitation, security, and healthcare, and his duties were similar in his other postings. The locations where Captain McDavid saw service figured directly in the Allied advance to take territory occupied by the Japanese and to gain staging areas for U.S. forces to move forward.
O.C. McDavid, born in Ruth, Mississippi in 1911, began what would become a newspaper career during his high school years by sweeping floors in the print shop at his hometown’s Enterprise Journal. His responsibilities grew to include running the print shop as well as writing, which resulted in attending high school part-time in order to pursue his newspaper career full time. He became the city editor and political reporter at the Jackson, Mississippi Daily News. McDavid joined the National Guard and received his federal induction prior to America’s entry into the war. Following earlier camp deployments, he was sent, in August 1943, with the 31st “Dixie” Infantry Division, for training at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The 31st was composed of Guard soldiers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Earlier, McDavid had been tapped by his commanding general to edit a weekly camp newspaper, The Dixie, which bore the name of his infantry division. The 31st left Fort Pickett in March 1944. Sailing out of Newport (now Newport News), Virginia, the division arrived in New Guinea in late April.
Following the war, McDavid returned to the newspaper business, becoming managing editor, then managing editor emeritus of the Jackson Daily News. Upon retirement in 1981, he devoted his time to painting and metal sculpture. McDavid earned the George Ohr Public Service Award, which honors Mississippians who have supported crafts as art. He died on March 12, 1998, in Jackson, Mississippi. The following year, the Mississippi Press Association established an annual student journalism conference in his name.
This digital collection chronicles the history of Texas from the Spanish Colonial Era through the turn of the 20th century. The bulk of the collection is from the Colonial, Republic, and Early Statehood eras, and in addition to materials broadly documenting the history of Texas, the activities of several prominent Texans and Americans are also documented. The digital collection contains nearly 1300 items.
Included in the collection are papers pertaining to the establishment of Austin’s Colony, including land and legal documents signed by Stephen F. Austin. Sam Houston’s role as President of Texas is extensively documented through correspondence and legal, financial, and land papers. The roles of Anson Jones and Mirabeau Lamar as President of Texas are seen in legal and land paper, and James Morgan’s role as Colonel in the Texas Army is documented through correspondence, legal, and military papers. Finally, Andrew Jackson’s role as President of the United States of America is documented in a letter detailing his decision to not send troops to Texas during the state’s revolution.
Also of interest are slave documents within the collection documenting the sale of slaves as property as well as financial and scrip documents that detail a listing of goods and services purchased by individuals. Other items include illustrations of currency and warrants paid to soldiers for their service.
This collection is now available at the new UH Digital Collections site! See Israel Shreve Revolutionary War Letters, 1768-1894 at UHDC.
Dr. Mehra's research in the history of 20th century physics has produced taped interviews with many famous scientists. The tapes compile discussions on physics, astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and quantum physics. Those interviewed include P.A.M. Dirac, W. Heisenberg, Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger, Willis E. Lamb Jr., Murray Gell-Mann, and numerous other Nobel Laureates and distinguished scientists. Other tapes record speeches by many Nobel Prize winners in physics and the humanities.
Some of Dr. Jagdish Mehra's literary works include The beat of a different drum: the life and science of Richard Feynman, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, and Einstein, physics and reality.
This digital collection consists of remastered audio tapes, transcripts, and speaker biographies from a small portion of this unique oral history collection. It features speakers from the annual humanities series presented at the Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (now the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth).
Speakers include: Margaret Mead (anthropologist), William Slone Coffin (clergyman and activist), Archibald MacLeish (Poet), Gerald Holton (engineer and physicist), Jerome Wiesner (engineer and mathematician), Oscar Handlin (historian), Philip Morrison (physicist).
Significant to the architectural history of Houston was the work of architect Kenneth Franzheim (1890–1959). The Kenneth Franzheim Collection is comprised of photographs and architectural drawings and models of Franzheim’s work. In addition to Houston landmarks such as the Foley’s Building and the Gulf Building, the collection surveys a broad range of works; included are corporate offices, high-rise apartments, theaters, private residences, airport facilities and others. Beyond Houston, the works contained herein were built and/or proposed for a variety of locales within and outside Texas. Represented are Franzheim’s contributions to the architectural landscapes of New York, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere. The collection’s images comprise the collected works of Franzheim as they appear in three self-published volumes: Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, New York City (1940), Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1952ca) and Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1960).
From August 17, 1941 to February 17, 1942, Lt. Robert B. Fulton corresponded regularly with his parents from aboard the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), which was sunk on February 28, 1942. After the sinking, the USS Houston’s surviving crew members were made prisoners of war. Fulton’s letters home written prior to the sinking make up the heart of this digital collection. It also includes homefront letters and documents, and cards made in a Japanese POW camp during Fulton’s captivity from 1942-1945.
Fulton’s letters home provide insight into the experience of a naval officer on the USS Houston during the build up to war in the Pacific, and during the conflict’s early months. Fulton describes daily activities on the ship, excursions and picnics, and the mounting tension in the area. Censorship prevents him from relaying the whereabouts or engagements of the ship. Equally interesting are the colorful greeting cards he received in POW camp.
Robert B. Fulton was born in Burlington, Vermont. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1928 to 1932. Following his graduation, he served on various cruisers and destroyers. Fulton attended the Naval Postgraduate School and MIT, earning an M.S. in Marine Engineering in 1941. On August 28, 1941 he became Assistant Engineer of the Houston, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the declaration of war on Japan by the United States, the USS Houston became part of the combined American-British-Dutch-Australian force (ABDA). On February 27, 1942, the ABDA fleet caught up with a large Japanese force. During the Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese sunk the Dutch cruisers H.M. de Ruyter and H.M. Java and three destroyers.
On February 28, 1942, as the Houston and the HMAS Perth, an Australian light cruiser, attempted to leave the Java Sea, they encountered a Japanese force in what became known as the Battle of Sunda Strait. The Perth was sunk by four Japanese torpedoes, and the Houston was sunk shortly after. Of her 1068 crew members, 700 perished. The survivors were taken prisoner by the Japanese, most sent to prison camps in Burma to become slave labor for the Burma-Thai Railway.
Along with other officers, Fulton was sent to a POW Camp in Japan in June 1942 for interrogation. Fulton spent most of the duration of the war in Zentsuji POW Camp in Japan, where conditions were less harsh than those in Burma. He was liberated from Rokuroshi POW Camp in Japan on September 7, 1945.
Following the war, Fulton continued to serve in the U.S. Navy, reaching the rank of Rear Admiral. He has been an active participant in the USS Houston Survivors Association/Next Generations for over 60 years.
Source: Robert B. Fulton Collection, Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, The Library of Congress
A civil rights lawyer, diplomat, political leader and soldier, Alonso S. Perales (1898-1960) was one of the most influential Mexican Americans of his time. These photographs and documents, highlighting aspects of his life and career, were part of a larger exhibition, In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals, on view at the M.D. Anderson Library from December 8, 2011 through February 29, 2012.
Perales saw himself as a defender of la raza, or race, especially battling charges that Mexicans and Latin Americans were inferior and a social problem. Perales was one of the founders of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1929 and helped write LULAC’s constitution. He served as the organization’s second president.
An intellectual who firmly believed in the law, Perales wrote about civil rights, religion and racial discrimination, which he argued “had the approval of the majority.” His work included the pamphlet Are We Good Neighbors? and the two-volume set En defense de mi raza. A member of the American Legion and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Perales was also a columnist for La Prensa and other Spanish-language newspapers.
Highlighting the 2010 acquisition of the Alonso S. Perales Papers by the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections Department, courtesy of the Perales Family and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, scholars presented their research on this trailblazing public intellectual at a day-long conference (January 13, 2012) bearing the same name as the exhibition. These presentations shed light on Perales’ activism and defense of Latinos, including the chronology and history of Mexican American and Latino civil rights movements, the impact of religion on Latinos, the concept of “race,” and individual versus community action to bring about social and political change.
The Blue Bonnet was the shipboard newsletter of the USS Houston (CA-30), a World War II-era heavy cruiser named for the city of Houston. The newsletters chronicle events both on and off the ship, providing an insider’s view of the lives and thoughts of the sailors on board. Although not all issues are available, the collection includes nearly 250 multi-page newsletters from 1933-1941, arranged chronologically.
Contents include ship news and general military news, sports updates for the ship’s teams, editorials, notes about the ship’s journeys and whereabouts, humor bits, sea chanteys, poems, and photos of the ship and some of its distinguished passengers, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Published by the ship’s company, each edition specifically names its reporters and editors, customarily on page two. Interestingly, each edition also states the ship’s location at the time of publication – for example, “Asiatic Station,” “Mare Island Navy Yard, California,” and “At Sea, Hawaiian Area.”
The Houston was sunk in 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait, and her surviving crew members were taken as prisoners-of-war. The Blue Bonnet was revived after the war by the USS Houston Survivors Association and Next Generations, and issues from the 2000s may be viewed online at their web site.
This collection of photographs from the larger UH Photographs Collection highlights campus scenes from throughout the history of the university. The photos of people, events, organizations and campus departments show a diverse range of activities and events, including athletic competitions, classroom gatherings, distinguished guests, and special events and exhibits.
The UH Photographs Collection in the University Archives contains photographs all aspects of the university’s history. Other digital collections from the UH Photographs include University of Houston Buildings and University of Houston People.
The William Slough USS Houston Letters contain letters sent from William Slough, S1C, to his family from 1934-1936 while he served on the USS Houston (CA-30). The collection also includes copies of Slough’s “Crossing the Line” document and subpoena, a photograph of Slough in his Navy uniform, and one letter from a shipmate to Slough’s family. These letters provide a glimpse into both the day-to-day life and the larger concerns of a sailor in the years before World War II.
William Slough was born on May 19, 1914, in Missouri but later moved to Texas, where he lived before joining the Navy. He started his service on May 15, 1934, just a few days shy of his twentieth birthday. His first letter in this collection, sent to his mother, is dated May 27, 1934. In the letters, Slough talks about spending time in the sick bay, his supplies and equipment, training, and leisure activities. He worries about his family, money, romances from home, promotion, and trouble with officers. He also talks about learning to love travel and his plans for the future, which include a career in the Navy and putting off marriage. Slough married in 1939 and had two children. He died in Victoria, Texas, on Dec. 9, 1991.
During the course of these letters, Slough is a Seaman First Class. In addition to serving on the Houston, a heavy cruiser, he also served on the USS Cowpens (CVL-25), an aircraft carrier. He served in World War II and reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, and after the war he continued in the Navy Reserves for 20 years. Slough was proud to say that with his service, every generation of his family had served in the United States military, beginning with Matthias Slough in the Revolutionary War.
The USS Houston was commissioned on June 17, 1930, and became the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet in 1931. In 1933 the Houston left the Asiatic and became part of the Scouting Force, based in Long Beach, California, and most of Slough’s letters originate from California. During the 1930s the Houston also hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an avid fisherman, for four leisure cruises.
The Houston returned to the Asiatic in March 1941, and following the attack on Pearl Harbor served in the Pacific theater as part of a multi-national force. On February 28, 1942, as the Houston and the HMAS Perth, an Australian ship, attempted to leave the Java Sea, they encountered a Japanese force in what became known as the Battle of Sunda Strait. The Houston was struck by torpedoes and began to sink, prompting an order to abandon ship. Seven hundred of the 1068 crew members perished. The surviving crew members were taken prisoner by the Japanese and were held until they learned of the war’s end on August 16, 1945.