Arthur I. Strong Collection


Arthur I. Strong Collection

 

Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Letters to Arthur Strong Jr.

Series II: Letters Midway

Series III: Letters From Hawaii, 1941-42

Series IV: Letters From Hawaii, 1945

Series V: Images of Postal Covers Mailed from Midway Is.

Index Terms

Administrative Information

 


Overview of the Collection

Repository: Navy Department Library
Creator: Arthur Irwin Strong (1894-1947)
Title: Arthur Irwin Strong Collection
Dates: 1941-1945 (inclusive)
Dates: 1941, 1945 (bulk)
Quantity: 1 box
Abstract: The collection consists of more than one hundred letters written by Arthur Strong, a civilian construction contractor, to his wife Vera during World War II. The bulk of the material covers Strong's experiences on Midway Island from June through November 1941 and while he was in Oahu during 1945. The collection also contains three letters written by Strong in the early part of 1941 to his son, Arthur Jr., who was serving in the U.S. Army. An important aspect of the collection are the highly unusual postal covers and cachets mailed from Midway that are of philatelic interest.
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Arthur Irwin Strong was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on 6 May 1894 and grew up in Seattle, Washington.

In 1918, he was rejected by the military for medical reasons. He always regretted not being in the Great War. He became a businessman, owned restaurants and a downtown Seattle bar named The Referee.

During the Depression he, his wife Vera, and three children moved to Boise, Idaho, where, Arthur was able to find work as a heavy equipment operator.

In 1940, he signed a year contract with the Morrison Knudson Company to work on Midway Island on a construction job to complete a Navy housing project.

On Midway Island, Strong was dubbed "The Governor" because he wore a white shirt (hard to maintain in brackish water) because he sent his shirts to his wife via Pan Am deliveries.

The events of 7 December 1941 did not surprise Arthur or his family as they surmised it was not "if the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but "when". After the attack, getting civilians off the island went slowly and was handled by a lottery. He was taken to Hawaii and there he helped dredge Pearl Harbor, gave blood and worked long hours. Finally, he was able to radio home that he was all right. Later, plans were put into place to send him back to the States.

After returning home, Strong signed on to work in Adak, Alaska. He was there when the Japanese attacked Alaska. For the remainder of the war, Arthur, Sr. either worked in the South Pacific or Alaska. He felt this made up for being unable to serve in the military during the '"Great War." He returned home for good in 1945.

Arthur Strong was never a member of the Navy. He was one of many workers spread over the islands of the South Pacific in the 1940s, building up Navy bases. They are an untold story, a part of the Navy's history.

Arthur Irwin Strong died 10 February 1947 at age 53 in Portland, Oregon.

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Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection contains two series of letters written by Arthur Strong to his wife Vera in 1941 and 1942. The first series is a collection of approximately 40 letters mailed from Midway Island while Strong was employed as a defense contractor there during July-November 1941. The second series consists of approximately 20 letters written from Hawaii during 1945. With one or two exceptions, all of the latter are addressed to Vera. The collection also includes three letters written by Strong in the early part of 1941 to his son, Arthur Jr., who was serving in the United States Army. The collection also contains one letter to Strong from his son written in 1944. This item is housed in the miscellaneous folder.

Arthur Strong Jr. had been a member of the Idaho National Guard. He was inducted into the United States Army in 1940, he trained at Fort Lewis, Washington and was sent to the Philippines. He arrived in Hawaii around 1 December 1941, but was unable to contact his father. Arthur Jr. was mustered out of the Army after serving 47 months in the South Pacific.

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Arrangement

The collection is organized into four series. Series I consists of three letters, arranged chronologically from Arthur Strong written to his son in January-February 1941. Series II consists of letters written to his wife while Strong was working on Midway Island between June and November 1941. The letters are arranged chronologically. Series III, also arranged chronologically consists of letters written to his wife while Strong was in Hawaii during December 1941 and January 1942. Series IV consists primarily of letters written by Arthur Strong to Vera Strong while Arthur was in Hawaii during 1945. The series also contains a few telegrams, post cards and other correspondence. All materials in this series are arranged chronologically. Series V is an artificial collection of images depicting selected postal covers found in Series III.

 

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Letters to Arthur Strong Jr., January-February 1941.

Three items addressed to Arthur Strong Jr.

Series II: Letters from Midway written by Arthur Strong, November-January 1941.
Letters from Midway June-July, 1941
Letters from Midway August-September, 1941
Letters from Midway October-November, 1941
Series III: Letters from Hawaii written by Arthur Strong, December 1941-January 1942.

Series IV: Letters from Hawaii written by Arthur Strong, January-September 1945.

Letters from Hawaii written January 1945
Letters from Hawaii written January 1945
Letters from Hawaii written February 1945
Letters from Hawaii written March 1945
Letters from Hawaii written April 1945
Letters from Hawaii written May 1945
Letters from Hawaii written June 1945
Letters from Hawaii written July 1945
Letters from Hawaii written August 1945
Letters from Hawaii written September 1945

Series V: Images of Postal Covers Mailed from Midway Island

Midway Island envelope with cachet of Gooney birds postmarked 2 July 1941

Midway Island envelope with cachet of Gooney birds postmarked 2 July 1941

Trans Pacific Route envelope with map and photo of seaplane, postmarked 4 August 1941

Trans Pacific Route envelope with map and photo of seaplane, postmarked 4 August 1941

Pan American Airways Mailed at Midway Island envelope, post marked 12 August 1941

Pan American Airways Mailed at Midway Island envelope, post marked 12 August 1941

Greetings From Honolulu, Aloha enelope with picture of native girl, postmarked circa 30 August 1941

Greetings From Honolulu, Aloha envelope with picture of native girl, postmarked circa 30 August 1941

Midway Island envelope with baby Gooney bird cachet, postmarked 20 October 1941

Midway Island envelope with baby Gooney bird cachet, postmarked 20 October 1941

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Use

Manuscripts are unavailable for loan and must be consulted in the library. Photocopying of manuscripts is generally prohibited, though the use of digital cameras by researchers to reproduce non-copyrighted materials is permitted. Permission to photocopy a limited number of pages may be granted by the reference staff, contingent upon the physical state of items. All photocopying of materials shall be done by the reference staff, or under their close supervision. The use of personal scanners by non-library staff personnel must be approved by the reference staff on a document-by-document basis (Reference: Naval History & Heritage Command Instruction [NAVHISTCENTINST] 5070.1C.).

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Personal name:

Strong, Arthur Irwin.

Subject

Midway Islands - History
Philately - Postal Covers - United States
World War, 1939-1945 - Personal Narratives, American

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Arthur I. Strong Collection, Navy Department Library, Washington, D.C.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Thomas Wildenberg in October 2009.

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