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Register of the Arnold Ellsworth True papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Arnold Ellsworth True papers
    Date (inclusive): 1885-1990
    Collection Number: 90011
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 15 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box (7.2 linear feet)
    Abstract: Writings, correspondence, memoranda, printed matter, photographs, and sound recordings relating to American naval operations in the Pacific Theater during World War II, especially the sinking of the destroyer Hammann at the battle of Midway, anti-war protest movements in the United States during the Vietnam War, and government surveillance of these movements. Includes United States government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: True, Arnold Ellsworth, 1901-1979.


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copiesof audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Arnold Ellsworth True papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1990.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1901 Born, Owen County, Kentucky
    1920 Graduate, United States Naval Academy; commissioned ensign, U.S. Navy
    1931 M.S. in meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    1939 Graduate, U.S. Naval War College
    1939-1942 Commanding officer, U.S.S. Hammann
    1942-1943 Commanding officer, Destroyer Division Three
    1943-1944 Commanding officer, Destroyer Squadron Two
    1945-1946 Staff officer, Atlantic Fleet
    1946 Retired from U.S. Navy as rear admiral
    1947-1968 Professor of meteorology, San Jose State College
    1969 Member, U.S. Study Team on Religious and Political Freedom in Vietnam
    1979 Died, Palo Alto, California

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Arnold Ellsworth True papers document the life of a United States naval officer whose career took an unusual turn. The most dramatic moments of True's naval service came during World War II in 1942 when he was at the Battle of the Coral Sea and subsequently at the Battle of Midway as captain of the destroyer Hammann. At the Coral Sea, the Hammann came to the relief of the stricken aircraft carrier Lexington and was credited with saving hundreds of American seamen from the sinking ship. A somewhat similar situation arose at Midway when the Hammann came to the aid of the Yorktown. While efforts to contain damage on the crippled carrier were underway it was hit by more torpedoes, and so too was the Hammann as it lay alongside. Both ships were lost. Many of the Hammann's crew died, and True himself was wounded. He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal for his conduct in these battles.
    After early disability retirement from the Navy, Admiral True undertook a second career as a faculty member at San Jose State College. Meanwhile, he had become increasingly convinced of the futility of war and became a Quaker, joining the Society of Friends in 1947. The bulk of the collection documents his advocacy of the cause of peace, especially during the Vietnam War era. True was an early opponent of American military involvement in Vietnam, and he successfully contested an effort by the U.S. Navy to prevent him, as a retired officer, from speaking out publicly on foreign policy issues. After the Navy withdrew its objections, in 1967 True embarked on a national speaking tour sponsored by Veterans for Peace in Vietnam. Together with a few other like-minded retired generals and admirals, among them retired Marine Corps General David M. Shoup, whose papers are also in the Hoover Institution Archives, he achieved national notice. Senator J. William Fulbright consulted him in conjunction with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's investigation of the Tonkin Gulf incident. In 1969, Admiral True joined a study team mission to South Vietnam sponsored by American religious groups. The team produced a report critical of the U.S.-supported government of that country.
    Also included in the collection are redacted official documents sought and received from U.S. government agencies by Corinne True, the admiral's widow, under the Freedom of Information Act. They document government surveillance of him and establish that he was a target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Hammann (Ship)
    United States. Navy--Officers.
    Internal security--United States.
    Midway, Battle of, 1942.
    Radicalism--United States.
    Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements.
    World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean.
    World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations.