Finding Aid (PDF, 223KB)
Scope and Content Notes
This Collection consists of approximately 300 letters, postcards, and greeting cards written by and to Lieutenant Commander Mary E. Birch and her later husband, Commander John E. “Jake” Plummer, and is organized into three Series:
Series I contains the original correspondence exchanged between Commander Plummer’s future wife, Mary Birch, and her family from January through April of 1943 and November of 1944 while she was a Midshipman at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (USNRMS) in Northampton, Massachusetts. This Series provides a glimpse into the training of a WAVES officer during World War II, and contains approximately 40 letters and postcards arranged chronologically.
Series II contains approximately 250 pieces of original correspondence from January 1949 through April 1958, including a number of attached newspaper clippings and other enclosures, exchanged between Commander Plummer, his wife and two children. This Series reflects the regular exchange between a Naval officer and his family during the early years of the Cold War, and provides a unique snapshot of domestic life in 1950s America. Of particular interest are examples of Operation Deep Freeze letterhead and envelopes from Commander Plummer’s voyages to the Arctic on board Edisto. Additional items of note include rose scented “scratch-n-sniff” stationery, Girl Scout stationery, and a number of Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, and Birthday cards, all in very good condition. This Series is arranged chronologically, and the association of all newspaper clippings and other miscellanea with the letters in which they were originally enclosed has been retained.
Series III contains a pair of original photographs of Mary Birch in uniform: one of her as a Midshipman in 1943, and one of her as a Lieutenant Commander in 1949. Also included are individual portraits of Commander and Mrs. Plummer (Mrs. Plummer’s is dated July 28, 1957) and their children during the 1950s, as well as a photocopy of a newspaper article on USS Edisto’s arctic operations during the summer of 1957 and an original issue of the USNRMS newsletter Wavelengths from March 1943.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Plummer Family, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.