USS North Carolina Battleship Collection

Manuscript Collection #292
Physical description
1.66 Cubic Feet
Preferred Citation
USS North Carolina Battleship Collection (#292), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Collection (1939-1975) consisting of photocopies of photographs, poetry, letters, personal accounts of battles, menus, diaries, clippings, pamphlets, scrapbook, memoranda, etc., concerning the USS North Carolina Battleship and its crew.

Biographical/historical information

The USS North Carolina, known as "the Showboat", was launched in October 1937 as the first of ten North Carolina-class fast battleships. It was armed with nine 16 inch guns in three turrets and 20 5 inch, .38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, and considered the most powerful naval ship of the era. The USS North Carolina served in the Pacific theater of the Second World War, where it operated as a mobile weapons platform tasked with protecting aircraft carriers from Japanese attacks. It was struck by a torpedo in September of 1942 and forced to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs but quickly rejoined the war effort, leading Task Force 39 in the attack on the Marshall Islands. By the end of the Second World War the North Carolina was the most decorated battleship of the conflict, participating in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater and earning 15 battle stars. After the war, the battleship served as a training vessel for midshipmen before being decommissioned and placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet in 1947. It was designated to be scrapped in 1960, but the citizens of North Carolina organized a fundraising campaign to bring the ship to its namesake state. It was moored in Wilmington, North Carolina and opened to the public in October of 1961.

Sources: Blaine Taylor. The Magnificent Showboat: USS North Carolina (BB-55). Accessed February 26, 2020.

Scope and arrangement

This collection contains photocopies of diaries and newspaper clippings from the Ben W. Blee collection as well as documents from Robert J. Celustka, Edward F. Cope, J.A. Halas, Charles Gilbert, and John E. Kirkpatrick. The Joe W. Stryker Papers include ship logs containing day to day operations, radio correspondence, and details concerning the torpedo strike on USS North Carolina in September 1942. The Paul Wieser Papers include a congratulatory letter to the USS North Carolina from Admiral Chester Nimitz congratulating them on their entry into Tokyo Bay in 1945, as well as a copy of "Illustrative Seamanship", a document used to train on battleship operations. The Richard C. Walker Papers discuss battleship armament and include a map of suspected Japanese gun emplacements on the island of Saipan, a target of the battleship's bombardment operations in the Pacific theater. The remainder of the collection, from the USS NC Battleship Commission Papers, contains actions reports, diaries from individual sailors, and one image of the USS North Carolina being towed into its current berth in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 20, 1980 (addition 1), 400 items; Commission material (1961-1975), including correspondence, clippings, programs, and miscellaneous pertaining to memorial day ceremonies, the "sound and lights" program, and other aspects of the memorials operation. Donor: USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. Originals were returned December 9, 1998, and photocopies were retained in their place.

August 25, 1980 (addition 2), 5 vols.; Specifications and contract documents (1961-1971) for battleship memorial, Donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

May 19, 1981 (addition 3), 1 vol.; Charles Curtis Awkerman journal (1941-1945). Donor: Lt. Col. Amo F. Judd

January 10, 1983 (addition 4), 33 items; Howard E. Mattson papers, including programs, menus, ship newspapers, charts, and miscellaneous items. Donor: Howard W. Mattson

June 7, 1983 (addition 5), 200 items; Chaplains' correspondence (1941-1945). donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

June 24, 1983 (addition 6), 174 items; Executive officer's memos (1943-1944), intelligence file (1941, 1943), historical matter file (1945-1956), and miscellaneous materials. Donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

July 11, 1983 (addition 7), 177 items; Administrative naval message file (1947). Donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

August 29, 1983 (addition 8), 121 items; Navigator's files and records, consisting of manuals, reports, memorandums, charts, orders, forms, and miscellaneous. Donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

October 4, 1983 (addition 9), 1 reels; Movie film of USS North Carolina. Donor: Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

Source of acquisition

Gift of USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial

Gift of Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

Gift of Lt. Col. Amo F. Judd

Gift of Howard W. Mattson

Gift of Captain Frank S. Conlon, USN (ret)

Processing information

Processed by D. Lennon

Processed by Joel Cook, March 2020

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.