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Singleton L. Harris World War II Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 0

Singleton L. Harris World War II Papers | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

By Aaron M. Lisec

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Collection Overview

Title: Singleton L. Harris World War II PapersAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1944

ID: 1/7/MSS 295

Primary Creator: Harris, Singleton L. (1922-2005)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Arrangement: Arranged by format type.

Subjects: African Americans - Segregation, World War, 1939-1945

Forms of Material: Diaries., Photographs

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of one pocket diary, 4 by 5.5 inches, closely written, covering the entire year 1944.  The diary begins with the unit traveling to Newport News, Virginia, where they embark for Italy on January 13, 1944, disembarking in Naples on February 11.  Harris is stationed near Naples and later near Rome, as his unit provides support for air operations.  Harris's duties include stints as a clerk and as a painter, detailed to decorate vehicles and even execute a mural, consisting of portraits of African-American entertainers, for the company mess.  The diary covers all aspects of Harris's army life, including daily activities, visits to local attractions, business and personal relations with local Italian civilians, lists and accounts of movies he sees almost daily, descriptions of camp routine, and occasional remarks about discrimination or ill-treatment at the hands of white officers.

The collection also includes approximately 50 photographs, many of Italian civilian acquaintances, sometimes posing with men of his unit; and approximately 85 negatives, some depicting similar though not identical subjects, others showing devastated city scenes, probably from Germany in 1945, and several images of Paris, also probably dating to 1945.

Among other items are several telegrams from family and friends; brochures for photographic equipment; and newspaper clippings, including one showing the mural that Harris painted.

Biographical Note

Born in Madison County, Mississippi, Singleton Harris married Josie B. Watkins in 1943.  He served in the 449th Signal Construction Battalion, Army Air Corps, an African-American unit in the then-segregated military.  After the war, Harris attended the Yale School of Photography and later worked as a photographer and mapmaker at the Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis, where he settled.  He retired in the mid-1980s.

Subject/Index Terms

African Americans - Segregation
World War, 1939-1945

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Acquisition Source: Purchased.

Preferred Citation: [Item], Singleton L. Harris World War II papers, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Diary and Background Information, 1944Add to your cart.
Includes obituary and death notice as well as a listing of Singleton L. Harris as a correspondent in a (microfilmed) collection of correspondence associated with a World War II office set up to handle complaints of racial discrimination.
Folder 2: Telegrams and Newspaper Clippings, circa 1944Add to your cart.
Also includes instruction booklets for photographic equipment
Folder 3: Photographs, circa 1944Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Negatives, circa 1944Add to your cart.

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