[N.p. ca. 1945]. Thirteen silver gelatin real photo postcards, each 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches. Moderate surface wear and silvering to some photos, minor edge wear. Overall very good. Item #WRCAM55611
A collection of thirteen real photo postcards featuring young African American Navy midshipmen serving or training during World War II, twelve of which have been signed by the subjects in the margin below their photograph. Seven of the men have also added their address below their names, while one serviceman inscribed his to "Mr. Strong." The sailors hail from a variety of locations, namely Tennessee, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Illinois, Maryland, and New York (two from Brooklyn). The men are all posed, likely against a studio backdrop, and each is dressed in a blue uniform and white hat.
The United States Navy was much slower to welcome African-American servicemen and integrate than the Army. In 1942, the Navy expanded service opportunities for African Americans beyond mess service, and Camp Robert Smalls was created within Naval Station Great Lakes to host the first full, albeit segregated, training programs. The Navy began desegregating training in 1944, with the first thirteen African Americans becoming commissioned and warrant officers that same year (the "Golden Thirteen"). By 1945, all training was fully integrated.
A useful group of photographs signed by African-American midshipmen of the Greatest Generation, braving the American Navy during a transformative time in its history.