This collection contains around 200 letters that Reginald Johnson of Webster, New York, wrote to his parents while serving in the United States Navy between 1917 and 1920. He commented extensively on military life and on his experiences while serving onboard the USS Florida in Scotland during the final months of World War I, and along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean during his postwar service.
Johnson wrote his mother about once or twice weekly throughout his time in the navy, beginning just after his enlistment in June 1917 and ending with his discharge in July 1920. He provided regular updates about daily life in the navy, while training at Newport, Rhode Island, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and while serving on the Florida during and after the war. The topics he discussed included the scenery, his activities while on liberty, and the food. He occasionally commented on his work and the ship's crew. Johnson inquired about his father's health, asked who had been drafted from his hometown, and reported meeting other sailors from the Rochester area. He shared his excitement about being able to see various parts of the world and described several of his destinations, including Edinburgh, Scotland; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and Colon and Panama City, Panama. While in port at Norfolk and Boston after the war, Johnson wrote about his leisure activities, compared the hospitality of the two cities toward sailors, and commented on his romantic relationship with a Boston woman.