The Benjamin Layton collection documents the life, family history, and interests of Benjamin T. Layton. Items date from circa 1865 to 1977. The collection measures 3.45 linear feet and is composed of newsletters, clippings, pamphlets, newspapers, correspondence, certificates, photographs, memorabilia, books, stamps, etchings, and programs.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the life, family history, and collecting interests of World War II veteran and federal employee Benjamin T. Layton. Layton grew up in Virginia and settled in Kensington, Maryland. Notable aspects of the collection include nineteenth-century photographs of African Americans, photographs of Layton's family, 1970s political photographs, and first editions of Richard Wright's Black Boy and Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery and Working with the Hands. Family photographs and memorabilia reflects the family's roots in Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area. Layton's historical photograph collection draws from photographers in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
Items date from circa 1865 to 1977. The collection measures 3.45 linear feet and is composed of newsletters, clippings, pamphlets, newspapers, correspondence, certificates, photographs, memorabilia, books, stamps, etchings, and programs. It has been arranged in three series: Series I: Biographical Files, 1913-1977, Series II: Photographs, circa 1865-1977, and Series III: Printed Material, 1901-circa 1976. Some items in Series II and Series III are oversized.
Biographical / Historical:
Benjamin Thomas Layton was born on December 24, 1917, in Hanover, Virginia, to a prominent Virginia family. His maternal great-grandfather, Ballard Trent Edwards, was a freeborn African American man who opened a school for formerly enslaved people and served for eight years in the Virginia House of Delegates. His father, William Brown Layton, was the superintendent of the Negro Reformatory of Virginia (later the Virginia Manual Labor School), a reform school for African American boys located in Hanover County.
Layton was an athlete and scholar, playing varsity tennis and attending Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. He did graduate work in social sciences at the University of Chicago and Howard University, but his studies were interrupted by the draft in 1941.
Layton served with distinction in the U.S. Army during World War II, leading truck convoys carrying soldiers, supplies, weapons, and prisoners of war during the Battle of the Bulge. He also worked in military intelligence. His last active duty assignment was commanding a military detachment in Baumholder, Germany. His decorations included the Bronze Star, which he was awarded in 1977. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring from the Army in 1963.
From 1963 to 1966 he worked in Europe, then returned to the United States in 1966, where he was an ROTC instructor at Chamberlain Vocational High School in Washington, D.C. He left in 1967 to become an equal-opportunity specialist at the United States Department of Agriculture, from which he retired in 1985. His brother William W. Layton also lived and worked in the Washington, D.C., area.
Layton had a passion for collecting and donated coins, paper money, and military artifacts to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He also donated objects relating to clubs and fraternities to the Anacostia Community Museum. He was a member of numerous organizations, including the Retired Officers Association, the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, the American Legion, the Prince Hall Masons, the Kiwanis Club of Wheaton, and the Federation Nationale des Anciens Combattants, a French veterans group.
Layton was married twice, his first marriage to Irma Goode ending in divorce. He lived in Kensington, Maryland, with his second wife Marguerite, with whom he had two daughters. He died on February 15, 2001, at age 83 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Anacostia Community Museum houses more items in the Benjamin Layton Collection, including buttons, fraternity paddles, lapel pins, and medals.
Order to Report for Induction, 1941. 1993.3172.04. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, National Museum of American History.
Notice to Appear for Physical Exam, 1940. 1993.3172.03. The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, National Museum of American History.
Layton Family Collection, 228 THL, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.
The Benjamin Layton collection was donated to the Anacostia Community Museum in two accretions in 1976 and 1978 by Benjamin Layton.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
The Benjamin Layton collection is the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (U.S.) Search this
Papers document General William Babcock Hazen's military career, primarily through correspondence, photographs, and publications.
Scope and Contents:
The General William Babcock Hazen Collection, 1856-1905, consists of approximately four cubic feet of material. Collection materials include biographical, correspondence (military and family), documents on the Greely Arctic Expedition, photographs, stereographs, and material on General Hazen's book, A Narrative of Military Service.
This collection is divided into six series.
Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1885-1867
Series 2, Correspondence and Military Forms 1856-1886 and undated
Series 3, Correspondence to General William Babcock Hazen, 1861-1887
Series 4, Correspondence of Hazen Family, 1858-1909
Series 5, Photographs, 1864-1881
Series 6, Publications, 1865-1886
Biographical / Historical:
General William Babcock Hazen was born September 27, 1830 in West Hartford, Vermont. Four years later, the family moved to a farm outside Hiram, Portage County, Ohio where he attended school with James A. Garfield. Hazen's goal was service in the Army, and he wrote his congressman for admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Hazen graduated in 1855, twenty-eighth out of a class of thirty-four.
After graduation, General Hazen was assigned as Brevet Second Lieutenant, Company D, Fourth Infantry, Redding, California. After arriving in California, he was ordered to Fort Lane in the Oregon Territory. Lieutenant Hazen was authorized to establish a command at Grand Ronde and build a blockhouse that became the post Fort Yamhill, located west of Portland, Oregon. On April 20, 1857, he was transferred to Fort Jones, California, and then ordered to join the Eighth Infantry, Fort Davis, Texas. Hazen was transferred to Fort Inge, Texas, to protect a road from San Antonio to Eagle Pass. During a chase, Hazen was wounded by a bullet that was not removed. The lingering effect of the bullet wound would cause him frequent pain.
During the period of service in Texas, Hazen reportedly gained leadership experience, practical military knowledge, and considerable confidence in his own abilities. Following twelve months of convalescence, Hazen was nominated assistant instructor of military tactics at West Point on January 28, 1861. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on April 1861 and captain on May 14, 1861. Colonel James A. Garfield influenced the appointment of Hazen as colonel in command of the newly organized forty-first Ohio Volunteer Regiment. Hazen quickly transformed the regiment's inexperienced personnel into a firmly disciplined body. The intensive training paid large dividends later in the war, and he always held the regiment in high regard.
As brigade and division commander, General Hazen led troops in many important battles and campaigns: Shiloh (Place of Peace), Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, Resaca, Picketts Mill, Jonesboro, Fort McAllister, and Bentonville. On December 13, 1864, Hazen was appointed a major general of volunteers in recognition of long and faithful service and the capture of Fort McAllister. It was after the performance of his troops at Fort McAllister that a friendly relationship developed with General William T. Sherman. With the capitulation of the Confederate armies in spring of 1865, Hazen's division and the Army of the Tennessee left North Carolina where they saw their last fighting. The destination was Washington, D.C., site of a two-day grand review of the victorious Union Armies. On May 19, 1865 Hazen was elevated to commander of the Fifteenth Corps. After a thirty day furlough, he held command of the District of Middle Tennessee until the following summer. In July 1866, Hazen returned west.
In August 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant granted Hazen indefinite leave to observe the Franco-Prussian War. He viewed several battles and personally interviewed Otto von Bismarck and General Helmut von Moltke. Observations and research convinced Hazen that the United States Army was mismanaged and lacked tactical and logistical organization.
Before returning to the Sixth Infantry command, Hazen married Mildred McLean, the twenty-one year-old daughter of prominent Cincinnati Enquirer owner Washington McLean. A son John was born in 1876, but died at the age of twenty-two in 1898.
In June 1877, Hazen was appointed military attaché to the United States Legation in Vienna, Austria, and assigned as military observer of the Russo-Turkish War that had started in April 1877.
In 1878 Colonel Stanley accused Colonel Hazen of perjury and cowardice in the Civil War and requested a court-martial. Colonel Hazen retaliated by formally requesting that Stanley be arraigned by a court-martial on charges of publishing and circulating libelous material against him. On March 19, 1879, General Sherman reluctantly recommended that both generals be arraigned by the same court-martial. The New York Tribune reported "inasmuch as by the decisions of the court-martial Hazen has secured a substantial vindication." Hazen returned to Fort Buford.
While on detached service in Washington, D.C., Hazen actively campaigned for James A. Garfield for president. On August 24, 1880, General Albert James Myer, Chief of the Army Signal Corps, died, opening up a staff position subject to presidential appointment. President Rutherford B. Hayes, after consulting with President-elect Garfield, announced the promotion of Hazen to the rank of brigadier general and appointment as chief signal officer. One of Hazen's lasting legacies in this new role was advancing the development of meteorological science in the Army Signal Corps.
In May 1880, Lady Franklin Bay in northern Canada was chosen as the site for a signal service polar station, one of several conducted by eleven nations for the first International Polar Year (1882-1883). The initial two-year expedition set out in 1881 under the command of Regular Army First Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greely, a Civil War veteran from Massachusetts. The twenty-five man party did not get relief from the long winter in 1882, and a second rescue attempt was disrupted by ice. In September 1883, Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, decided it was too late to send another relief party and they were left to spend a third winter in the Arctic. The demoralized party was forced to march south in search of supplies and landed at Cape Sabine, spending the next eight months in desperate circumstances. In June 1884, rescuers finally reached them and found only Greely and seven others alive. The remaining expedition members froze or starved to death.
Hazen never forgave Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln for his inaction with the Greely Arctic Expedition, and in 1884 Lincoln censured Hazen for his criticism. Hazen replied to Lincoln by letter, which was returned with a warning to keep the matter private. Hazen went to the press and stated in a published account that he wrote such a letter. He immediately found himself ordered before another court-martial, resulting in a reprimand by President Chester A. Arthur for "unwarranted and captious criticism." Greely supported Hazen's position. In 1885, Hazen produced A Narrative of Military Service, a report devoted to the defense of his Civil War record and personal reputation.
Health problems-diabetes and recurring pain from his bullet wound-forced Hazen to obtain a 12-month leave of absence from his military service. On January 13, 1887, he attended a White House reception where he caught a cold. He died on January 16, 1887, at the age of fifty-six.
In 1985, the Smithsonian received from the Estate of Fredrick McLean Bugher, grandnephew of General Hazen's wife Mildred McLean Hazen, manuscripts and letters concerning General Hazen. Part of the collection was rescued by a private individual from a Lorton, Virginia land fill and sold to the Smithsonian in 1987 in two sections. The first section contained material about the career of General William Babcock Hazen as chief signal officer of the United States Army. The second section contained manuscript materials related to Hazen's duties on the frontier and Indian tribes covering the period of 1855 to 1860, and from 1866 to 1880. Also included are family letters and land holdings in the Midwest.
Collection is open for research.
Rights situation uncertain, but most of the collection is probably in the public domain due to its age.
Arctic regions -- Discovery and exploration -- 1880-1890 Search this
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 Search this
Correspondence -- 1850-1900
William B. Hazen Papers, 1855-1909, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.