African-Americans and the U.S. Navy - 1900 to 1917

The first decades of the Twentieth Century brought increasing restrictions on the role of African-Americans in American society. The Navy was no exception. Though the enlisted rates remained generally open to men of all races, African-Americans were being actively pushed into servant roles. This page, and that covering the period from World War I to World War II, feature pictures that represent this trend.

For further pictorial coverage, see African Americans and the U.S. Navy

The following pictures show African-Americans in Navy scenes, afloat and ashore, including some civilian Navy employees.

Click the photograph for a larger image.

Photo #: NH 83564


Valet to Captain Albert Gleaves, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Saint Louis (C-20), circa 1909.
He is standing by one of the ship's 6"/50 guns.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation; Collection of Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 69KB; 590 x 620

Photo #: NH 95226

Orchestra of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet

On board USS Wyoming (BB-32) in 1912-13.

Courtesy of Commander Donald J. Robinson, USN(Retired), 1983.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 66KB; 740 x 470

Photo #: NH 95636

Naval Aviation Camp, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Camp personnel, circa January-March 1913, during Naval aviation's first fleet "deployment". Officers present are (left-to-right):
Lieutenant(Junior Grade) Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN;
First Lieutenant Bernard L. Smith, USMC;
First Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham, USMC;
Lieutenant John H. Towers, USN;
Ensign Victor D. Herbster, USN;
Ensign William D. Billingsley, USN;
Ensign Godfrey deC. Chevalier, USN.
Note goat and dog mascots and canvas hangar with a Curtiss "A" type airplane inside.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation; Collection of Commander Theodore G. Ellyson.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 440

Photo #: NH 91202

USS New Jersey (BB-16)

Four sailors of the ship's landing party, with cartridge belts and M1903 rifles, March 1915.
They are identified as (left-to-right): Bell, Johnson, Thomas and Marshall.
Note base of one of New Jersey's "cage" masts behind them.

Donated by Lieutenant Colonel Elton M. Manuel, 1979.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 500

Photo #: NH 93375

Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia

Staff of the Navy Yard's Construction and Repair Department, circa the early 1900s.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 123KB; 740 x 585


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

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