Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Reginald Johnson Letters, 1917-1920

Finding aid created by
Phil Zaret, December 2005, and Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: Reginald Johnson letters
Creator: Johnson, Kate M.
Inclusive dates: 1917-1920
Extent: 1 linear foot
Abstract:
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.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2003. M-4304.6.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Reginald Johnson letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biographical/Historical Note

Reginald J. Johnson was born in New York in July 1896 to Samuel J. Johnson, a tinsmith, and Kate M. Johnson. The family lived in Webster, N.Y. Reginald enlisted in the United States Navy in June 1917. In October 1917, after training at the United States Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island, he joined the crew of the USS Florida . He remained with the Florida for the remainder of his naval career, serving as a gunner and sheet metal worker. During the final year of World War I, the Florida was primarily stationed in Scotland, and saw little combat. The ship returned to the United States in December 1918 and spent time in New York, Norfolk, and Boston before sailing to the Caribbean.

Johnson remained with the Florida in Boston, Massachusetts, in the latter part of 1919. By early 1920, the ship again sailed to the Caribbean, and in July 1920 it returned to New York, where Johnson was discharged on July 26. He returned to Webster, New York.


Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Boston (Mass.)
    • Florida (Battleship)
    • Guantánamo Bay (Cuba)--Description and travel.
    • Naval education.
    • Newport (R.I.)
    • Norfolk (Va.)
    • Panama--Description and travel.
    • Portsmouth (N.H.)
    • Sailors--United States.
    • Scotland--Description and travel.
    • United States. Naval Training Station, Newport.
    • United States. Navy--Military life.
    • United States. Navy--Sea life.
    • Webster (N.Y.)
    • World War, 1914-1918--Naval operations, American.
    Contributors:
    • Johnson, Reginald, b. 1896.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Correspondence [series]:
    Box   1 Folders   1-13
      January 31, 1917-December 16, 1918
    Box   2 Folders   1-12
      January 4, 1919-July 27, 1920