Finding Aid for the Unknown sailor First World War photo album 2019.060.w.r

Andrew Harman
Center for American War Letters Archives
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange, CA 92866

Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
Title: Unknown sailor First World War photo album
Identifier/Call Number: 2019.060.w.r
Physical Description: 1 Linear feet (1 flat box)
Date (inclusive): 1917 - 1918
Abstract: This collection contains one green photo album, containing 315 black and white photographs taken by a sailor during the First World War.
Language of Material: English .
Container: WWI Flat Box 1

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jeff Koerber.

Biographical / Historical

The Croix D'Hins high power radio station, later named Lafayette after the French General who aided the US during the American Revolution, was constructed to provide a line of communication across the Atlantic after sea-bed communications lines had been cut during the war. The department of Gironde, which included the ports at Arcachon and Bordeaux, was vital to the American entry to the war and the Allied war effort in general, and this allowed for vital material to be brought to the station at the two ports' halfway point. Construction began in March 1918 on a large central building, among many other facilities, and eight radio towers by sailors and Marines, of which six were completed by the end of the war. For more information see the following article:

Custodial History

This collection was purchased by the donor from an antique book store in Bloomington, Illinois in 2002. The photographer, compiler, and subjects are all unknown.

Preferred Citation

[Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], Unknown soldier First World War photo album (2019.060.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

Content Description

This collection contains one green photo album, containing 315 small black and white photographs taken by a sailor during the First World War. The photographs include sailors, landscapes, naval vessels and cityscapes, including training and deployment though they appear to be out of chronological order. Most of the photographs measure approximately 2x4 inches, with some slightly larger. Most of the photos contain small captions written on the paper to which they are afixed, including some first names and nicknames, but very few identifying names except for some officers' last names.
The chronological order of the photographs can be seen in bunches, perhaps from adding stacks of like photos at a time and then an anachronistic stack thereafter. For instance, the album contains several photos showing deployment in France near the front, later batches of training in the US, and then the same town in France later in the album.
The two main themes of the photographs are the sailors' surroundings in France and the construction of the US Hight Power Radio Station at Croix D'Hins camp, Gironde Department, France. The sailors traveled to many of the cities and areas within Gironde, including Arcachon, Bordeaux, Pauillac, and many pictures include sights off the coast in the ocean or in the Gironde estuary. After leaving training at Camp Paul Jones, Naval Station Great Lakes, the sailors debarked from New York and saw Plymouth and Southampton in England, as well as St. Nazaire, Marcheprime, Brest, and Panilla Naval Air Station in France.
The photographs also include group photos of construction "gangs" and other sailors, boxing, American Independence Day in Bordeaux, statues and monuments, parades, French civilians, Christmas trees, German prisoners of war, cars, and ships. The ships include: British Destroyers, submarines, French dirigibles, a Spanish sail ship, a British sea plane, USS George Washington, USS America, USS O'Brien, USS Von Steuben, USS Leviathan, USS Pensacola, USS Massachusetts, and the USS North Carolina.
Locations or monuments mentioned include: Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, and several locations in Bordeaux including the Statue Gironde, Monument aux Girondins at "concourse" on Alley de Tourney (Allées de Tourny), Rue de Tourny, Jardin Public (park), Bordeaux Cathedral, Cours de Verdun, Cours de Tournon, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and various "eagle-eye" views of the city from atop the cathedral.
Several names are mentioned, including Frank, Johnson, Jackie, MacDonald, Berra, Clinker, Dr. Wilson, Higgins, Meader (or Meades), Payne, Jennings, Joe, Evans, and Mr. Brickell, some of which are named twice. Also named are Lieutenants Fanning and Baldwin and the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, not pictured in a shot of a parade at the Great Lakes. One photo near the end shows a group shot of sailors near the Monument aux Gironde with initials underneath that may provide some identification of the photographer, "J.D.N."
Of note are two photos in which the photographer calls out sailors of color, one Asian and one African American. The first is captioned, "A Philipino in our Navy," and the second is similarly captioned, "A coon in our Navy."

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

World War (1914-1918)
World War (1914-1918) -- France
World War (1914-1918) -- Christmas
World War (1914-1918) -- Photography
Travel photography -- 20th Century -- Pictorial Works.
United States. -- Navy
Military training camps
Basic training (Military education)
United States. -- Marine Corps
Military aircraft.