Lawrence Winston papers
Language of Materials
Lawrence Winston was an African American United States Navy sailor who served aboard the USS Mugford and the USS General M.M. Patrick during World War II. The USS Mugford, a destroyer, was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the attack on December 7, 1941. This collection contains approximately three hundred and fifty letters written by Lawrence Winston to his wife Cecelia Winston, including forty V-mails.
Lawrence Winston, an African American United States Navy sailor, served aboard the USS Mugford, 1938-1944 and the USS General M.M. Patrick, 1944-. The USS Mugford, a destroyer, was stationed at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Winston joined the Navy in 1936 and re-enlisted in November, 1941. He started dating Cecelia Little in the fall of 1936 while he was at the Annapolis Naval Academy. He married her in 1938 and she gave birth to their first child, Patricia Anne, later that year. They had another girl in September of 1940, Charlotte.
Winston was transferred to Boston in May of 1938 where he began his service aboard the USS Mugford. This destroyer was stationed at numerous locations prior to the war including: Panama; Guantanamo, Cuba; Gonaives, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Port Au Prince; San Diego, CA; Pearl Harbor, HI; and Japan. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Winston's ship was involved in campaigns in the South Pacific--including the Guadalcanal landings and operations in New Guinea and the Solomon and Marshall Islands. In February, 1944 the USS Mugford returned to the U.S. for overhaul. Lawrence was transferred to the USS General M.M. Patrick, which launched in June of 1944. This ship transported military personnel and traveled to numerous locations including: Pearl Harbor; Guam; the Philippines; Australia; and Calcutta, India.
Letters are arranged chronologically.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains approximately three hundred and fifty letters written from 1938 to 1945, primarily by Lawrence Winston to his wife Cecelia Winston. Additionally, the collection includes several letters written by Lawrence to various relatives (his mother, father, daughter Pat, and father-in-law) and several letters written to Cecelia from her relatives.
The correspondence contains a number of letters written while Lawrence was stationed at Pearl Harbor, from pre-war through early 1942. Although there are no descriptive letters about the attack, the collection contains two items from December of 1941. As all mail was censored for sensitive material during the war, Lawrence Winston does not write about his location or activities. Therefore, much of the content of the letters of this period regards his personal feelings towards his wife and daughters and domestic issues such as finances.
Highlights of the correspondence include: a 1938 letter describing the negro condition in Panama and the nature of Panamanians in general; descriptions of the natives in Port Au Prince and their differing treatment of negroes and whites; a letter dated November, 1941 discussing the delicate war crisis written after Lawrence's return from Japan; descriptions of his physical and mental deterioration due to bombings and the stress of being away from home for nearly four years straight; and some letters revealing the experience of African American sailors in the Navy.
In addition to the typed and hand-written letters the collections contain 40 V-mails, several telegrams and postcards, and a few ephemeral items.
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This collection should be cited as Lawrence Winston Papers, MS 2, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
About this Guide
Processed by Shannon Yule, 2011.