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Pence (Harry) Papers
MSS 0144  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Harry Pence Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0144
    Physical Description: 23.7 Linear feet (41 archive boxes, 3 shoeboxes, 8 flat boxes, 3 map case folders, 8 art bin items, and 1 tube)
    Date (inclusive): 1893-1976 (bulk 1901-1945)
    Abstract: Papers of Captain Harry Langley Pence, U.S. Naval Academy graduate (1906), career United States Navy officer (1902-1945), and Red Cross administrator (1945-1946). The papers contain correspondence, diaries, memorabilia, memoranda, orders, photographs, reports and Pence's scrapbooks.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers of Captain Harry Pence (1882-1977) document the career of a United States Naval officer who served during the first half of the twentieth century, beginning with his graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1906 through his retirement in 1945. Pence sailed with the Great White Fleet, witnessed the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet during World War I, served at overseas duty stations including Trieste and Constantinople, was a Navy administrator during World War II, and worked on prisoner of war issues with the Red Cross. He documented his experiences through letters, journals and photographs. The collection contains voluminous personal correspondence, diaries, memorabilia, memoranda, orders, reports, and other documents collected during Pence's military duty assignments. Also included are materials of visual interest, such as Pence's scrapbooks, albums, photographs and souvenir postcards from his world travels.


    Harry Langley Pence was born on September 23, 1882, in Sardina, Ohio. Pence graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1901, attended the Ohio State University (1901-1902) and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor of science degree in 1906.
    Following his graduation from the Naval Academy, Pence spent the majority of his shipboard assignments serving as either a gunnery officer, executive officer or captain aboard a number of ships including the USS Maryland (1906-1907, 1909-1912), USS Rainbow (1907), USS Kearsarge (1908), USS Illinois (1913), USS Rhode Island (1914-1915), USS Texas (1916-1918), USS McFarland (1921-1924), USS Tennessee (1927-1932), USS Memphis (1932-1934), USS Hopkins (1934), and the USS Moffett (1938). Pence served aboard the USS Kearsarge while it was attached to the Great White Fleet that circumnavigated the world from 1907 to 1909. While aboard the USS Texas, Pence was present during the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet to the British Grand Fleet.
    In 1919, Pence was appointed port officer in Trieste and was responsible for four additional ports -- Fiume, Spalato, Gravosa (Ragusa), and Gallipoli (Italy). From 1920-1921, he was assigned to the United States Embassy in London, England, where he served as the assistant naval attache and later acting naval attache.
    Following this assignment, Pence assumed command of the USS McFarland, 1921-1924, in Constantinople. On its first tour, the USS McFarland served as flag tender to the commander of the United States Naval Forces in Europe - Vice Admiral Niblack. On the USS McFarland's second tour, Pence commanded a division of destroyers in the Near East under Admiral Bristol, high commander.
    Pence held several posts as an instructor, the first at the US Naval Academy in the Department of Navigation (1912-1914) and at the United States Naval War College (1924-1927) in Newport, Rhode Island, as a student, then as an instructor. Pence returned to Naval War College from 1934-1937 as an instructor and head of the Department of Intelligence.
    From 1939 until his retirement from the Navy on March 31, 1945, Pence's assignments were administrative. From 1939-1941, he served as chief of staff of the 6th, 7th and 8th Naval Districts while serving as captain of the yard, Charleston, South Carolina. From 1941-1944, Pence served as a liaison officer to the General Board of the Navy, which advised the Secretary of the Navy on all matters of naval policy. Collaterally, from 1943-1944, Pence served as the Navy Department liaison officer for matters concerning the military government program - Civil Affairs. From 1944-1945, Pence was a senior member of the Subcommittee on Far Eastern Affairs with the Joint Post War Committee (Joint Chiefs of Staff).
    After retiring from the Navy, Pence accepted a one year position with the American Red Cross. Pence worked with the relief program responsible for prisoners of war in the Far East and as a member of the general committee to amend the Geneva Conventions of 1929.
    Pence lived in La Jolla, California, where he worked as a real estate broker until his death on March 5, 1977.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection. Materials created prior to 1923 are in the public domain.

    Preferred Citation

    Harry Pence Papers. MSS 144. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1970, 2000 and 2017.

    Processing Information

    The papers were originally processed in 2002, with additions in 2013 and 2017.


    Contents of box 46 are restricted for preservation. Permission to access these items is granted at the descretion of the the Program Director.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American -- Sources
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American -- Pictorial works
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
    United States -- Armed forces -- Officers -- History -- Sources
    United States -- Armed forces -- Officers -- Pictorial works
    United States -- Armed forces -- Officers -- Diaries
    Pence, H. L. (Harry Langley), 1882-1977 -- Archives
    American National Red Cross