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Davis, EM1 Roy W. Papers 

Dates: 1906-1919

Collection Number: COLL/547

Finding aid (Word)

Biographical Note

Born in Fairhaven, Connecticut, on Aug 10, 1886, as the son of William H. and Martha (Bunnell) Davis, Roy W. Davis underwent an apprenticeship in machine drafting at Landers, Frary & Clark in New Britain, Connecticut, from August 1905 to April 1906, and then at Wheeler & Wilson in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from April 1906 to November 1906.

In November 1906 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a four-year enlistment, receiving eight months of training in Practical Electricity and Machine Shop Practice at the Naval Electrical School in Brooklyn, New York. While serving in USS Vermont as an Electrician’s Mate Third Class, he embarked on the historic voyage of the Atlantic Fleet, popularly called the “Great White Fleet,” around the world from 1907 to 1909. By the end of his enlistment in 1910, he had been promoted to Electrician’s Mate First Class. Desiring to return to civilian life to pursue his trade as a machinist, Davis declined to re-enlist, settling in New Britain, Connecticut, where he married a sweetheart he met while working as a machine drafting apprentice in New Britain, Miss Marietta “Etta” C. Cowles, with whom he extensively corresponded while at sea.

From November 1910 to September 1911, Davis was employed with Waterbury Tool Company in New Britain, Connecticut, as a Machine and Tool Designer. In September 1911, he accepted a position as Special Machine and Tool Designer, Checker and Squad Foreman with New Britain Machine Company, remaining in that job until March 1917.

In March 1917, Davis accepted a position as Master Mechanic in charge of the Engineering Department of Nathan Manufacturing Company in Flushing, Long Island, New York. While in Flushing, Davis became a life member of the Cornucopia Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons.

In 1919, Davis took a position as Mechanical Engineer with the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City, where he remained until 1932, when he and his family moved to Nashua, New Hampshire. There he worked for the Improved Paper Machinery Company until 1951, when he retired. While living in New Hampshire, Davis became a member of the National Grange.

In the last years of his life, Davis and his wife lived in Amherst, New Hampshire. He passed away on April 5, 1970, at a convalescent home in Concord, New Hampshire, after a long illness, survived by his wife, a son, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a cousin.


Scope and Content Note

The bulk of this collection consists of postcards that were sent to Davis, or were sent by him, during the voyage of the Great White Fleet. One post card was a duplication of a map of the Fleet’s voyage he drafted on the leg to San Francisco, the original drawing of which is in Series VII.

The collection is organized into eight series, reflecting the eclectic nature of the material and the geographical specificity of items obtained by Davis during the voyage of the Great White Fleet. The last series is comprised of oversized material.

Series I, Postcards, 1906-1910, contains all postcards in the collection, organized into three general categories: post cards not mailed and kept by Davis for commemorative purposes, postcards received by Davis, and postcards mailed by Davis which he subsequently re-acquired.

Series II, Photographs, 1907-1910, contains non-postcard photographs obtained by Davis as souvenirs during his naval service.

Series III, Correspondence, 1907-1919, consists of letters written to and from Davis.

Series IV, Journal, 1907-1909, contains loose leaf pages of journal notes that Davis kept during the voyage of the Great White Fleet.

Series V, Newspaper Articles, consists of newspaper clippings related to various periods of Davis’s life.

Series VI, Booklets, Programs, Tickets, Guides and Cards, 1907-1908, is comprised of souvenir items obtained by Davis during the voyage of the Great White Fleet, e.g. invitations, booklets, railroad ticket stubs, event programs and tourist guides.

Series VII, Itinerary, Log, Map, Table of Fleet Organization, contains an official itinerary (published as a Fleet Special Order) of the Great White Fleet, a log published in March 1909 of the cruise of the Great White Fleet, the map drafted by Davis during the first leg of the voyage of the Great White Fleet, and an official table of organization of the Great White Fleet.

Series VIII, Oversized Material, consists of a chart tracking the passage of the Great White Fleet through the Strait of Magellan and a New Zealand magazine commemorating the visit of the Fleet in August 1908.


Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Papers of Roy W. Davis, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.



Published: Tue Aug 10 14:46:56 EDT 2021