Betty Bonner Higgins Collection

1943-1945, undated
Manuscript Collection #1170
Higgins, Betty Bonner
Physical description
0.155 Cubic Feet, 1 volume, 150 items , consisting of a scrapbook containing photographs, pamphlets, correspondence, typescripts, and ephemera.
Preferred Citation
Betty Bonner Higgins Collection (#1170), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Collection contains a scrapbook (1943-1945) related to Betty Bonner Higgins' World War II service in W.A.V.E.S (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Included is an assortment of photographs of her family, of herself and her fellow W.A.V.E.S. during training at Indiana University, and of her boyfriend aboard the USS Admiralty Islands and soldiers in the Pacific Theater. Assorted military notices, newspaper clippings, ephemera, personal correspondence, and two pamphlets describing service in the W.A.V.E.S. are also in the scrapbook.

Biographical/historical information

Betty Higgins enlisted in the W.A.V.E.S in 1943, which she served for the remainder of the World War II. Enlisting from San Luis Obispo, California, she completed her basic training at Indiana University on May,1943 before serving at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Livermore, California. She achieved the rank of SKV 1c (T) in 1945.

W.A.V.E.S (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) was the female naval reserve during the Second World War. Established 1942, it allowed women to serve as enlisted officers within the Navy with similar benefits to enlisted men during World War II. The women were required to work within the continental United States only; however, it offered a variety of professional training which was provided by the Navy. In 1948, W.A.V.E.S was officially dissolved with the permanent admission of women into military service.


Scope and arrangement

This collection contains one large scrapbook with material relating to Betty Higgins experience in W.A.V.E.S (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II, between 1943 and 1945. A variety of photographs, war memorabilia, ephemera, and personal and military correspondence is contained within.

There are two copies of a W.A.V.E.S pamphlet found in this collection which outline the enlistment process, benefits, and training for women seeking to serve in the Navy during the Second World War. Physical and mental requirements for enlistment are also discussed in the pamphlet, alongside general concerns one may have when trying to enlist.

Higgins' personal items in this collection are primarily photographs relating to her US naval training at Indiana University. Included with these are pictures of her with fellow officers, and assorted ephemera about Indiana University. Additionally, there are a few items related to her training program at the university, such as her certificate of graduation as a member of 2nd Battalion, Company 5.

Scattered throughout the scrapbook are a variety of military typescripts and ephemera, such as a W.A.V.E.S. matchbook, menus, programs, and a mock "Last Will of Adolph Hitler." Some items included are correspondence outlining the first days of training for those accepted into W.A.V.E.S, details of her service and pay, letters praising Higgins and the W.A.V.E.S efforts sent to her family, and correspondence on her request for time off from active duty. Broader military typescripts note rates of pay, allocation of funds for attire and travel arrangements, and general codes of conduct in W.A.V.E.S.

There are a few photographs and personal correspondence between Higgins and her boyfriend Edmund Woodburn, stationed on the USS Admiralty Islands. There are several photographs of local people around New Guinea where Woodburn was stationed at the time, along with an assortment of photos of American soldiers in these areas as well. Most of the personal correspondence between the two in this collection consists of typescript poetry from Woodburn; some letters do highlight how navy officers felt about their stationing in the Pacific Theater.

Lastly, there are a few newspaper clippings scattered throughout the scrapbook. Each depicts the W.A.V.E.S. in a positive light and thanks them for their continued contributions to the war effort.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 1, 2010, 1 vol. 150 items, 0.155 cubic feet; Scrapbook (March 1943 - May 1945, undated) relating to Betty Bonner Higgins' World War II service in the W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) for the U.S. Navy, including her induction, training, graduation as a member of 2nd Battalion Company 5, of the U.S. Naval Training School Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; her promotion from SKV 2.c to SKV 1.c (T); also her service at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Livermore, Cal., including correspondence with her family in San Luis Obispo, California and from her boyfriend Edmund "Ed" Woodburn, SK 1.C, who was serving aboard the escort carrier USS Admiralty Islands (CVE-99) and the LST 453 in the Arawe and New Britian campaigns in the Southwest Pacific Theater and Australia; typescripts, including "The Last Will of Adolph Hitler," clippings, ephemera, menus, photographic prints, printed forms, programs, a WAVES matchbook, etc. 15.5" x 11.5" vol., 27 p. used out of 41 p. Recd. 7/14/2010. Purchase (Special Manuscript Fund), Ten Pound Island Book Co.

Source of acquisition

Purchase (Special Manuscript Fund), Ten Pound Island Book Co.

Processing information

Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, September 01, 2010

Processing completed May 31, 2016, by Robert Hines

Copyright notice

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

Key terms
Personal Names
Higgins, Betty Bonner
Woodburn, Edmund
Corporate Names
United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve
United States. Navy--Officers
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Female
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Assorted photographs from scrapbook. Includes Betty Higgins, fellow W.A.V.E.S., her family, Indiana University, training exercises, and her boyfriend (stationed aboard the USS Admiralty Islands) and other servicemen in locations of the Pacific Theater, 1943-1945
Box 1 Folder b Assorted items that were loose in scrapbook; includes typescripts, correspondence, a W.A.V.E.S. pamphlet, 1943-1945