This collection consists of 72 linear feet of the papers of Benjamin O. Davis. Included are the following types of material: programs, invitations, certificates, correspondence, published material, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of material gathered by General and Mrs. Davis over the course of their lives to 1993. The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence, newsclippings, and photographs relating to or received by the Davises, especially after General Davis retired from the Air Force. The collection is particularly rich in materials from the black press of the 1940s, documenting the response of the black community to the activities of the 99th Fighter Squadron and 332d Fighter Group during and after World War II, and contains a small amount of material related to the controversy surrounding the units' combat performance and the morale issues raised by the segregated society of the 1940s. Most of the remainder of the material from Davis' military career centers on his own activities. Davis' tenure as the Director of Public Safety in Cleveland coincides with the activities of the Black Panther movement and the term of Mayor Carl Stokes, Cleveland's first mayor of African descent; the newclippings and correspondence from this period highlight police activities and public reaction in this racially-polarized atmosphere. Much of the material from Davis' early tenure at the Department of Transportation deals with civil aviation security, initially to counter the hijacking wave of the early 1970s and later to reduce cargo theft. The material from his later years, particularly during his years as a consultant, deals primarily with attempts to reduce gasoline consumption, especially his work promoting the 55mph National Maximum Speed Limit. The largest blocks of material from Davis' private life relate to his tenure on the President's Commission on Campus Unrest (1970) and the President's Commission on Military Compensation (1977-1978); these contain, respectively, materials on student protests, including the shootings at Kent State, and on issues surrounding military pay and retirement. There is also a significant body of material relating to his association with Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and his speaking tours to increase public knowledge of the role of black servicemen during World War II.
Materials of a personal nature, particularly correspondence between General and Mrs. Davis, were retained by the Davises and therefore do not figure in this collection. Most official documents relating to Davis' activities in the military or civil service are held by the United States National Archives and Records Administration in Record Groups 18 (Records of the Army Air Forces), 341 (Records of Headquarters United States Air Force (Air Staff)), 342 (Records of United States Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations), and 398 (General Records of the Department of Transportation). Official materials remaining in the collection are primarily contemporary copies given to Mrs. Davis relating to General Davis' travel or public appearances.
Some of the early material (through approximately 1948) was organized by Mrs. Davis into a series of scrapbooks, each of which contains photographs, correspondence, and newsclippings. The rest of the items in the collection were organized into envelopes by the Davises before donation, with the material generally arranged by posting (duty station) and chronology. The items in any given envelope were generally not organized and neither were the envelopes themselves grouped in any particular manner. Additionally, some military records gathered by General Davis as reference material while writing his autobiography were identified by the period of his posting, although the material itself was generally created after that period. Items relating primarily to Mrs. Davis were not separated by the Davises in any manner; during processing such material was treated in a like manner, remaining interfiled with material relating primarily to General Davis, except as noted below.
The collection as a whole has been organized into four chronological groups: Civilian and Family Life (predating Davis' admission to the US Military Academy at West Point, NY), Military Service, Private Life (post-dating Davis' retirement from the USAF), and Autobiography. The second of these (Military Service) has been organized chronologically by posting, then alphabetically by subject; the remaining groups have been organized alphabetically by broad subject areas, then chronologically.
A number of broad subject areas recur in both the civilian and military sections of this collection. In cases where such broad areas can be applied individually to Davis, Mrs. Davis, or Davis Sr., they have been grouped in that order. The subject areas are as follows:
Awards and Honors -- materials relating to medals, citations, or other awards or honors given to Davis (or other members of his family)
Newclippings -- clippings from newspapers or magazines, or complete newspapers or magazines, except when such clippings were enclosures which had remained with their associated cover letter
Official Duties -- materials relating to Davis' activities connected to his official duties (used in Series II only)
Social -- materials relating to the Davises' activities which are not obviously connected to his official duties
Travel -- materials relating to trips by the Davises which do not appear to be duty-related trips
Other subject areas are generally self-explanatory.
The collection contained two videotapes, one relating to the 50th Anniversary of the Tuskegee Airmen and the other to the 1992 Clinton Campaign, both of which have been transferred to the NASM Film Archives. Cross references to these tapes have been placed in the finding aid in the series or subseries into which they would have fallen had they been documents. A large number of three-dimensional items, particularly plaques, have been transferred to curatorial control. For access to these items, please contact the NASM Aeronautics Department. Oversized items remaining in the collection have been placed in appropriate-sized containers at the end of the document collection; reference to such items occurs in the file lists as "see oversized..." or "see also oversized..." as appropriate.
Researchers should also consult Davis' autobiography, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1991).
Series 1: Education and Civilian Life, to June 1932
Series 2: Military Career, June 1932 to January 1970
Series 3: Civilian Life, February 1970 to 1993
Series 4: Autobiography
Biographical / Historical:
Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr. was born in Washington, DC on December 18, 1912, the second of three children born to Benjamin Oliver (Sr.) and Elnora Dickerson Davis. At that time Davis Sr.(1) was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, having worked his way up from an enlisted cavalry trooper. Elnora Davis died from complications after giving birth to their third child (Elnora) in 1916 and three years later Davis Sr. married Sadie Overton, an English professor at Wilberforce University. Davis and his sisters lived with relatives in Washington while Davis Sr. completed his tour of duty in the Philippines with his new bride. The family was reunited in Tuskegee, AL when Davis Sr. taught military science and tactics at the Tuskegee Institute between 1920 and 1924. In 1924 Davis Sr. was assigned as an instructor to a federalized Ohio National Guard unit and the family moved to Cleveland, OH.
Davis finished his schooling in Cleveland, graduating from Central High School in 1929. He then attended Western Reserve University (1929-1930) and the University of Chicago (1930-1932) before gaining admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. He graduated in the Class of 1936 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry.(2) Upon graduation, he married Ms. Agatha Scott, whom he had met and dated while at the Academy.
After serving in the infantry for several years Davis was posted to the newly-established Tuskegee Army Air Field, AL for pilot training in 1942. He graduated in the first class from the new flying school and was officially transferred to the Army Air Corps. In August 1942 he assumed command of the 99th Fighter Squadron, leading it in combat in North Africa and Sicily. The 99th Fighter Squadron was the first unit of "Tuskegee Airmen," as black(3) units in the segregated Army Air Forces (AAF) have come to be called. Two units of Tuskegee Airmen saw combat during World War II: the 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332d Fighter Group (composed of the 100th, 301st, and 302d Fighter Squadrons). Davis, promoted to Colonel in 1944, commanded both of these units in turn, leading the 99th and 332d in combat in Europe and earning the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, and Silver Star for his own actions and a Distinguished Unit Citation for the 332d Fighter Group.
Davis returned to the United States in June 1945 to assume command of the 477th Bombardment Group (composed of the 616th, 617th, 618th, and 619th Bombardment Squadrons; later redesignated the 477th Composite Group), another segregated black unit, at Godman Field, KY. Davis was expected to prepare the unit for deployment to the Pacific Theater, although the unit's training was badly behind schedule due to racial tensions between the white staff and black operating personnel of the unit. Davis quickly brought the unit up to deployment requirements, but the war ended before the 477th left the United States. Returning elements of the 332d and 99th were merged into the 477th, which was redesignated the 332d Fighter Wing in 1947. As the only remaining black unit in the newly-established, but still segregated, United States Air Force (USAF), the 332d suffered from a surplus of qualified personnel while remaining USAF units were often under manned. The performance of the units under Davis' command had laid to rest questions regarding the abilities of the "negro race" and in 1948 the Air Force determined that the efficient use of its manpower required the integration of its units. As a result the Air Force rapidly complied with President Truman's order for the integration of the United States military. Davis acted as an advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force in relation to the integration of the armed forces. The integration procedure, however, resulted in the deactivation of Davis' command as its personnel were dispersed among the rest of the Air Force; Davis himself was assigned to attend classes at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, AL.
After completing the course of study at the Air War College (1949-1950), Davis was posted to a variety of command and staff positions both within the United States and abroad. He served in a number of staff positions in Headquarters, USAF, at the Pentagon.(4) He held both command and staff positions abroad in Korea (5), Japan (6), Taiwan (7), Germany (8), and the Philippines.(9) His final assignment was as Deputy Commander in Chief of United States Strike Command at MacDill AFB, FL.
Davis was promoted to Brigadier General in October 1954 (10), after ten years as a Colonel. He was promoted to Major General in June 1959 and to Lieutenant General in April 1965. Despite persistent rumors of his impending promotion to full General (four stars), no such promotion was pending by the time of his retirement on January 31, 1970.
Throughout his military career Davis took great pains to insure good living conditions and fair treatment for the men under his command. He strove to create good relations between the US military forces and local military and civil authorities. In particular, he negotiated several Status of Forces Agreements and defused several antagonistic situations between US forces and local authorities while commanding units in Asia. In addition, he and Agatha established many personal relationships, which they maintained after their return to the United States.
After his retirement from the military, he served briefly as the Director of Public Safety for the City of Cleveland, OH (February-July 1970), leading the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments in the racially-polarized atmosphere in that city after the riots of the late 1960s. Following his resignation from Cleveland, he took a position as the Director of Civil Aviation Security for the United States Department of Transportation (November 1970-June 1971), where he was responsible for implementing measures to counter the first wave of aerial hijackings of the 1970s. In July 1971 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Safety and Consumer Affairs (July 1971-September 1975), serving both the Nixon and Ford Administrations in that position.
Following his retirement from the civil service, he worked as a consultant to the Department of Transportation in the Ford and Carter Administrations on a number of issues, but was particularly linked to the promotion of the 55mph National Maximum Speed Limit. He served on a number of boards and commissions, including the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, the American Battle Monuments Commission, The President's Commission on Military Compensation, and the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Life Insurance Co. He was also active in a number of clubs and organizations, particularly the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., which awarded him a lifetime membership in 1991.
In the late 1980s he began work on his autobiography, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1991). Following its publication, Davis pursued an active speaking career, crossing the country to talk to schools, clubs, and general audiences about his experiences. His book and
es, his contributions to the Black Wings exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum (opened 1983), and the work of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. did much to lift the veil that had fallen over the activities of black Americans during World War II, both in the air and on the ground. For his contributions, both during and after World War II, he received many awards, including the Order of the Sword (presented by the Non-Commissioned Officers of USAF Tactical Air Command, awarded 1978), designation as an Elder Statesman of Aviation (National Aeronautic Association, awarded 1991), and the Langley Medal (Smithsonian Institution, awarded 1992), as well as numerous lifetime and distinguished achievement awards.
On December 9, 1998, Davis was promoted to General on the Retired List, receiving his fourth star from President William Clinton in a ceremony held in the Presidential Hall of the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. The promotion came only after the Tuskegee Airmen approached Senator John McCain of Airzona, who agreed that the promotion was warranted by Davis' service. McCain added the necessary language to a defense-related bill, which was passed by Congress in September 1998.
Agatha died early in 2002 and General Davis, suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, followed shortly after, passing away on July 4, 2002 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
1. For the sake of brevity, "Davis" refers to Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. "Davis Sr." refers to his father, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
2. Davis had requested a commission in the Army Air Corps, but was refused due to his race. Davis was the fourth black American to graduate from West Point and the first in the twentieth century. In keeping with his sentiments, his ethnicity will only be mentioned when it has a direct bearing upon his career. See Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991).
3. At the request of General and Mrs. Davis the term "black" or "black American" is used in preference to "African-American". Patricia Williams, Memorandum for the Record, August 21, 1992, NASM Accession File 1992 0023.
4. Staff Planning Officer, Operations and Planning Division/Commands Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCS/O; July 1950-January 1951); Chief, Air Defense Branch/Fighter Branch, DCS/O (January 1951-July 1953); Director of Manpower and Organizations, DCS/Programs and Requirements (August 1961-February 1965); Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements (February-May 1965).
5. Commander, 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing (November 1953-July 1954); Chief of Staff, United Nations Command/US Forces Korea (May 1965-August 1967)
6. Director of Operations and Training, Headquarters, Far East Air Force, Tokyo (July 1954-April 1957)
7. Commanding Officer, Air Task Force 13 (Provisional) and Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force (June 1955-April 1957)
8. Chief of Staff, Twelfth Air Force (May-December 1957); Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, USAF Europe (December 1957-July 1961)
9. Commander, Thirteenth Air Force (August 1967-July 1968)
10. Davis was the first black American to achieve flag rank in the United States Air Force. He was the second in the armed forces, the first being his father, who was promoted to Brigadier General in the United States Army in 1940.
1912 December 18 -- Davis born in Washington, DC to First Lieutenant Benjamin O. Davis (Sr.) and Elnora Dickerson Davis
1914 September 1 -- World War I begins
1915 February -- Davis Sr. begins duties as instructor at Wilberforce University, OH
1916 February 9 -- Elnora Dickerson Davis dies
1917 April 6 -- United States declares war on Germany; direct U.S. involvement in World War I begins
1917 (Summer) -- Davis Sr. assigned to 9th Cavalry Regiment, Camp Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands
1918 November 11 -- World War I armistice signed; end of combat operations in Europe
1919 -- Davis Sr. marries Sadie Overton
1920 July -- Family moves to Tuskegee, AL (Davis Sr. instructs at Tuskegee Institute)
1924 July -- Family moves to Cleveland, OH (Davis Sr. instructs 372d Infantry Regiment, OH National Guard)
1929 -- Davis graduates from Central High School, Cleveland, OH
1929 --1930 -- Davis attends Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
1930 --1932 -- Davis attends University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1931 March -- Davis appointed to United States Military Academy, West Point, NY (fails entrance exam)
1932 March -- Davis passes USMA entrance exam
1932 July 1 -- Davis reports to USMA, West Point, NY (attends July 1, 1932-June 12, 1936)
1936 June 12 -- Davis graduates from USMA, commissioned Second Lieutenant of Infantry
1936 June 20 -- Davis marries Agatha Josephine Scott
1936 September 12 -- Davis reports to Company F, 24th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, GA (Company Officer, September 12, 1936-August 27, 1937)
1937 July 7 -- Japanese forces invades China; World War II begins in Asia
1937 August 27 -- Davis reports to the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA (attends normal course, August 27, 1937-June 18, 1938)
1938 June 18 -- Davis reports to Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, AL as Professor of Military Science (instructs June 18, 1938-February 14, 1941)
1939 June 12 -- Davis promoted to First Lieutenant
1939 September 1 -- German forces invade Poland; World War II begins in Europe
1940 October 9 -- Davis promoted to Captain (temporary promotion)
1940 October 25 -- Davis Sr. promoted to Brigadier General and placed in command of the 4th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Riley, KS
1941 February -- Davis assigned as Aide de Camp to Davis Sr. (serves February-May 1941)
1941 May 20 -- Davis reports to Flying School at Tuskegee Army Air Field, AL (student, May 20, 1941-March 7, 1942)
1941 December 7 -- Japanese aircraft attack Pearl Harbor, HI; direct U.S. involvement in World War II begins
1942 March 7 -- Davis is appointed Administrative Officer, Tuskegee AAF, AL (serves March 7-August 27, 1942)
1942 May -- Davis transferred from Infantry to Army Air Corps
1942 May 11 -- Davis promoted to Major (temporary promotion)
1942 May 21 -- Davis promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (temporary promotion)
1942 August 27 -- Davis assumes command of 99th Fighter Squadron, Tuskegee AAF, AL (Squadron Commander, August 27, 1942-October 4, 1943)
1943 April 24 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Casablanca, French Morocco
1943 April 29 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Oued N'ja, French Morocco
1943 June 7 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Fardjouna, Tunisia
1943 July 28 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Licata, Sicily
1943 September 4 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Termini, Sicily
1943 September 17 -- 99th Fighter Squadron transferred to Barcellona, Sicily
1943 September -- Davis returns to Continental United States
1943 October 8 -- Davis assumes command of 332d Fighter Group, Selfridge Field, MI (Group Commander, October 8, 1943-June 7, 1945)
1944 February 3 -- 332d Fighter Group transferred to Montecorvino, Italy
1944 April 15 -- 332d Fighter Group transferred to Capodichino, Italy
1944 May 28 -- 332d Fighter Group transferred to Ramitelli Airfield, Italy
1944 May 29 -- Davis promoted to Colonel (temporary promotion)
1945 May 4 -- 332d Fighter Group transferred to Cattolica, Italy
1945 May 7 -- Germany surrenders; World War II ends in Europe
1945 June 10 -- Davis returns to Continental United States
1945 June 21 -- Davis assumes command of 477th Composite Group (Group Commander, June 21-30, 1945)
1945 July 1 -- Davis assumes command of Godman Field, KY, and all tenant units, including 477th Composite Group (Base Commander, July 1, 1945-March 4, 1946)
1945 September 2 -- Japan surrenders; World War II ends in the Pacific
1946 March 4 -- Davis assumes command of Lockbourne AAB and all tenant units, including 477th Composite Group (Base Commander, March 4, 1946-September 15, 1947) All units at Godman Field transferred to Lockbourne Army Air Base, OH
1947 July 1 -- 477th Composite Group redesignated 332d Fighter Wing
1947 July-August -- Davis travels to Liberia with Davis Sr. as a special representative of the United States Government for the establishment of Liberian independence
1947 September 16 -- Davis assumes direct command of 332d Fighter Wing (Wing Commander, September 16, 1947-June 30, 1949)
1947 October 1 -- United States Air Force created as an independent service.
1948 July 2 -- Davis' promotion to Lieutenant Colonel made permanent.
1948 July 26 -- President Truman signs Executive Order 9981 ordering the full integration of the United States armed forces.
1949 May 11 -- USAF issues Air Force Letter 35-3 stating that Air Force policy is equal treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Air Force regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.
1949 June 30 -- 332d Fighter Wing deactivated
1949 July 1 -- Davis assumes command of Lockbourne AFB, OH (Base Commander, July 1-August 16, 1949)
1949 August 16 -- Lockbourne AFB, OH transferred to Ohio Air National Guard
1949 August 17 -- Davis reports to Air War College, Maxwell AFB, AL (attends course, August 17, 1949-July 4, 1950)
1950 June 25 -- North Korean forces invade South Korea; Korean War begins
1950 July 19 -- Davis reports to Pentagon to serve as Staff Planning Officer, Operations and Planning Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCS/O), Headquarters, United States Air Force, Washington, DC (serves July 19, 1950-January 4, 1951)
1950 July 27 -- Davis' promotion to Colonel made permanent
1950 August 8 -- Davis awarded Croix de Guerre by the French government for his actions during World War II
1950 September 12 -- Operations and Planning Division redesignated Commands Division of DCS/O
1951 January 5 -- Davis begins duty as Branch Chief, Air Defense Branch, Commands Division, DCS/O. (serves January 5, 1951-July 15, 1953)
1951 April 16 -- Air Defense Branch redesignated Fighter Branch, Control Division, DCS/O
1953 February 5 -- Davis reports to Craig AFB, AL for Jet Indoctrination Course (February 5-March 2, 1953); returns to Fighter Branch on completion of course
1953 July 16 -- Davis reports to Nellis AFB, NV for Advanced Jet Fighter Gunnery School (July 16-November 16, 1953)
1953 July 27 -- Korean War armistice signed; end of combat operations in Korea
1953 November 25 -- Davis assumes command of 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Suwon, Korea (Wing Commander, November 25, 1953-July 6, 1954)
1954 July 7 -- Davis reports to Headquarters, Far East Air Force, Tokyo, Japan to serve a Director of Operations and Training (serves July 7, 1954-April 1957)
1954 October 27 -- Davis is promoted to Brigadier General (temporary promotion)
1955 June -- Davis reports to Taipei, Taiwan to establish Air Task Force 13 (Provisional) (Commander, June 1955-April 1957), with simultaneous duties as Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force and Director of Operations and Training, FEAF
1957 March -- Davis awarded Command Pilot Rating
1957 May -- Davis assigned to Twelfth Air Force
1957 June -- Davises travel from Taiwan to Europe via United States
1957 July -- Davis reports to Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force at Ramstein, Germany (Chief of Staff, May-December 1957)
1957 December -- Davis begins duties as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (ADVON) at Headquarters, USAF Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany (serves December 1957-July 1961)
1959 June 30 -- Davis is promoted to Major General (temporary rank)
1960 May 16 -- Davis' promotion to Brigadier General made permanent
1961 -- US military personnel sent to South Vietnam as advisors
1961 August -- Davis reports to Pentagon to serve as Director of Manpower and Organizations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements, Headquarters, USAF (serves August 1961-February 1965)
1962 January 30 -- Davis' promotion to Major General is made permanent
1965 February -- Davis begins duty as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements, Headquarters, USAF (serves February-May 1965)
1965 April 30 -- Davis promoted to Lieutenant General
1965 March 2 -- USAF begins "Rolling Thunder" bombing campaign over North Vietnam
1965 May 13 -- Davis reports to Seoul, Korea to begin duties as Chief of Staff to the United Nations Command and United States Forces Korea (serves May 13, 1965-August 1, 1967)
1966 October 25 -- Sadie Overton Davis dies
1967 August -- Davis assumes command of Thirteenth Air Force, Clark Air Base, Philippines (Commanding Officer, August 1967-July 1968)
1968 August 1 -- Davis reports to MacDill AFB, FL to begin duties as Deputy Commander in Chief of United States Strike Command (serves August 1, 1968-January 31, 1970)
1968 January -- Tet Offensive begins in Vietnam
1968 October 31 -- "Rolling Thunder" ends on orders from President Johnson
1969 January 20 -- Richard M. Nixon inaugurated President of the United States
1970 -- USAF begins withdrawing units from South Vietnam
1970 January 31 -- Davis retires from United States Air Force
1970 February 1 -- Davis begins work as Director of Public Safety for the Cleveland, OH (works February 1, 1970-July 27, 1970)
1970 June 13 -- Davis joins President's Commission on Campus Unrest (report issued September 27, 1971)
1970 July 27 -- Davis resigns from Cleveland position, citing lack of support from Mayor Stokes
1970 September 20 -- Davis begins work as a consultant to the United States Secretary of Transportation on air transportation security (works September 20, 1970-November 4, 1970)
1970 November 4 -- Davis begins work a Director of Civil Aviation Security for the United States Department of Transportation (works November 4, 1970-July 1, 1971)
1970 November 26 -- Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. dies
1971 July 1 -- Davis becomes Acting Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Safety and Consumer Affairs (serves July 1, 1971-August 3, 1971)
1971 July 8 -- Nixon Administration nominates Davis to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Safety and Consumer Affairs
1971 July 29 -- Senate confirms Davis in Assistant Secretary position
1971 August 3 -- Davis sworn in a Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Safety and Consumer Affairs (serves August 3, 1970-September 20, 1975)
1973 March 28 -- Last US Military personnel leave South Vietnam
1974 August 9 -- Nixon resigns as President of the United States. Vice President Gerald R. Ford becomes President
1975 September 20 -- Davis retires from Civil Service
1976 April -- Davis begins work as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation for the National Maximum Speed Limit
1977 January 20 -- James E. Carter inaugurated President of the United States
1977 June -- Davis joins President's Commission on Military Compensation (report issued March 1978)
1981 January 20 -- Ronald W. Reagan inaugurated President of the United States Davis leaves position as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation
1989 January 20 -- George H. W. Bush inaugurated President of the United States
1991 -- Davis' autobiography – Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American: An Autobiography – is published by Smithsonian Press
1991 June 30 -- Davis awarded a Lifetime Membership by Tuskegee Airmen Inc
1993 January 20 -- William J. Clinton inaugurated President of the United States
1998 December 9 -- Davis promoted to General (Retired) in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building
2001 January 20 -- George W. Bush inaugurated President of the United States
2002 July 4 -- Davis dies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
2002 July 17 -- Davis buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Benjamin O. Davis and Agatha S. Davis, Gift, various, 1992-0023
No restrictions on access
Via, Ida Virginia Woods, 1914-2010 -- 20th century Search this
22.1 Cubic feet (67 boxes, 3 map-size folders)
Motion pictures (visual works)
Maryland -- Family farms
Prince George's County (Md.)
Arizona -- motion pictures
Charles County (Md.) -- Family farms
Calvert County (Md.) -- Family farms
California -- motion pictures
Bahamas -- motion pictures
Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
Puerto Rico -- motion pictures
Washington -- motion pictures
Oregon -- motion pictures
St. Thomas, V.I. -- motion pictures
Florida -- motion pictures
Papers documenting the farming and family life of the Robinson family of Prince George's County and after 1975, Charles County, Maryland. Papers documenting the farming and family of the Via family of Greene County, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Prince George's and Calvert Counties, Maryland, by 1949.
Scope and Contents:
An extensive and comprehensive collection of papers relating to family, farming, and the Southern Maryland tobacco culture, the Robinson and Via Family Papers cover many aspects of family and farm life. The papers are particularly important in regard to the tobacco culture that defined Southern Maryland for generations. The papers concern two distinct family groups, the Robinson and Via families who are connected through the marriage of Franklin A. Robinson and Adina Mae Via. The papers consist of material generated by the Robinson and Via families in their personal and working lives and as farm owners and operators.
The papers are especially strong in 20th century material. They consist of various types of farm records: account books, bills, receipts, tenant farming agreements, ephemera, land rental and purchase agreements, insurance policies, photographs and 8mm and 16mm films of farming practices and procedures, equipment and landscapes, related to the farming of tobacco, small grains, and livestock. The personal records include diaries, letters both personal and business, greeting cards, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, baby books, house plans, recipe books, photographs and 8mm films of birthdays, holidays, weddings, baptisms, family occasions, and family travel, oral histories, and funeral ephemera including photographs, and transcription discs. Of particular interest are the "Serenity Farm Tobacco Production Photographs" documenting the crop year 1999-2000 and the films detailing agricultural practices. There is a memorandum book for Black Walnut Thicket, 1885-1901, the Baden farm in Baden, Prince George's County.
This collection includes a comprehensive range of 8mm and 16mm films and photographs documenting farming practices and landscapes as well as family gatherings, birthdays, holidays, and vacations. The researcher is alerted to the fact that in some cases with the memorandum and account books, books printed for a given year were often saved and used for subsequent years, some were dated, some were not.
The collection is divided into seven series arranged by subject and most often chronologically at folder level within each series.
The collection is divided into seven series:
Series 1: Ferndale Farm (Potomac Landing), Prince George's County, Maryland, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.1: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, and publications, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.2: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, 1945-1960, undated
Subseries 1.3: Farm papers, bills, and receipts, 1960-1965, undated
Series 2: Robinson Family, 1845-1997, undated
Subseries 2.1: Family Papers and Publications, 1845-1993, undated
The Robinson family is thought to be of Scottish origin and appear in the records of Prince George's County, Maryland by the early 18th century. The line has been definitively traced to James Robinson (?-1849). James' father was probably Benjamin Robinson (?-1810), of Prince George's County, Maryland. (Will Book TT1, pg. 15, Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Maryland State Archives (MSA))
James Robinson and Sarah Wynn were issued a marriage license on February 28, 1802 in Prince George's County, Maryland. (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland) Eleven children lived to maturity (not listed in birth order); Thomas Wells (1803-1869), Ann, Priscilla, James Monroe, Benjamin (1813-1882), John C. (1819-1895), Mary Sophia, Thomas Stanley (1800-1874), Alfred, Sarah Ann, Matilda, and Rebecca Maria.
James worked as overseer for Benjamin Oden on Oden's estate Bellefields near Upper Marlborough, Prince George's County. (Oden Papers, Maryland Historical Society) The Robinsons and their children, moved to Wood County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on April 18, 1818 where James acted as Oden's land agent (Deed Book 6, pg. 123, Land Records of Wood County, West Virginia). They brought with them three slaves described in the above reference as, "Kate a woman 45 years of age very black; Colonel a boy aged 8 years yellow complexion: and George a boy aged six years of a dark brown complexion." They settled on part of what was known as the "Burnt Mill" tract in the general area where the Hughes River meets the Little Kanawha River. (Deed Book 9, pg. 110 and Deed Book 14, pg. 40, Land Records of Wood County)
Thomas Wells Robinson may not have accompanied his family to Virginia as he has a presence in Prince George's County prior to 1822 and was employed as overseer for Benjamin Oden at least until 1832. He married Elizabeth I. Richards on December 15, 1829 (Robinson Family Bible). They had nine children; Richard Thomas (1831 1906), Rebecca Maria (1832-1895), Mary Wynn (1834-1916), James George (1835-1883), Virlinda Victoria (1837-1838), Elizabeth Ann (1839-1916), Sarah Ann Sophia (1840-1874), Franklin Alexander (1841-1905) and John Alfred (1843); seven lived to maturity. (Robinson Family Bible) Elizabeth died on August 17, 1843 from complications in childbirth. She was buried in the churchyard of Page's Chapel (later known as St. Thomas Episcopal Church), Croom, Prince George's County.
In 1843, Thomas purchased the plantation of Dr. Benjamin B. Hodges for $10,000 or approximately $15 an acre. Hodges was a brother-in-law of Benjamin Oden. The deed dated September 7, 1843 describes the parcel as containing, "Six hundred and twenty nine acres of land more or less and constitute that plantation or Estate of the said Benjamin Oden heretofore commonly called "Brown's Quarter Place" being the Land tracts and parcels of land sold by the said Benjamin Oden to the said Benjamin B. Hodges and by deed bearing date the tenth day of December eighteen hundred and thirty five and recorded in Liber AB no. 10 folio 162 also one of the land Records of the County aforesaid". (JBB no. 3 pgs. 312 314, Land Records of Prince George's County) The land was level to rolling bordered on the north by a tributary of Piscataway Creek and generally termed "white oak land". Underlying the whole property was a large strata of gravel and sand. The entire parcel went by the name, Potomac Landing.
Thomas supplemented his land holdings with later purchases. With the exception of twenty acres purchased from Sarah Talbert in 1844, (JBB no. 3 pg. 475, Land Records of Prince George's County) and the purchase of lot #3 consisting of 195 acres, part of the estate of John Townshend in 1856, these purchases were not contiguous to Potomac Landing. By the time of his death in 1869 these non-contiguous parcels had been sold. Thomas sold eighty-six acres of Potomac Landing and Jeffries to Edward Eversfield in October of 1843. (JBB no. 3, pg. 198, Land Records of Prince George's County) On January 13, 1846 Thomas married the widow Martha Ann Walls, daughter of George and Martha Naylor Walls. They had two sons; Benjamin Wells (1848-1849) and Robert Henry (1851-1937).
In addition to his sons, Thomas owned slaves. The number varied from six in 1849 (JBB 6, folio 186, Land Records of Prince Georges' County) to eleven as noted in the census for 1850, and finally six as noted in the census of 1860. The 1867 Maryland Slave Statistics noted that, "at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of Maryland, in the year 1864, . . ." Thomas owned six slaves, their names and ages being; Isaac Franklin age 31, Alfred West age 19, Susan West age 17, Margaret Franklin age 14, Fannie Franklin age 12, and Peter Franklin age 9. All were noted as being in good physical condition. (Prince Georges' County Slave Statistics 1867 1869, C 1307 1, MdHR:6198, page 185, MSA)
In April 11, 1855 Thomas excuted a deed of trust to J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore for securing a loan. At that time the farm was described as, "about five hundred and seventy acres . . . also the following personal property to wit Eight head of horses, nine cows, two mules, twelve work oxen, twenty Eight Sheep, one bull, two colts and all other stock of every description now on the aforesaid land, also the farming utensils and the following named Slaves, Stephen aged Sixty three years, Isaac aged twenty six years, Elvia aged twenty Eight years Alfred aged twelve years, Hanson aged ten years, Henrietta aged twelve years Susanna aged eight years, and Margaret aged three years. Together with the crop of Tobacco now in the house and the crop of wheat now growing." (EWB 1 pages 155 156, Land Records of Prince Georges' County)
Thomas's financial problems began in the mid-1800s when Deeds of Trust appear in the county records securing outstanding loans. In 1856 and 1857 Thomas joined with others as bondsman for his son, Richard who was serving as "Collector of the State and County Taxes" for the 4th collection district, making he and the other signatories liable for any uncollected taxes. This, coupled with poor investments, led to his almost being "sold out" in 1859-1860 by J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore to pay his debts. He executed three drafts on Penn & Mitchell, also of Baltimore, to pay off J.W. & E. Reynolds. (Equity Case #597, Prince Georges' County) Thomas was in poor health and his son James managed the plantation in 1857 and 1858, and again from 1861 to October of 1862 (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County)
In October of 1862 Thomas' two sons, James and Franklin, traveled to Richmond to join the Confederate States Army. James enrolled in the 5th Battalion, Local Defense Arsenal and Franklin enrolled in the 5th Virginia Infantry, the Stonewall Brigade. (CSA Military Records, National Archives) James visited home frequently but was captured by the Union Army in St. Mary's County, Maryland on May 15, 1864 and spent the remainder of the war in Point Lookout Prison Camp. He was released on May 14, 1865. Franklin was not able to visit home at all during the war but survived to return home in 1865.
In 1865, Thomas surveyed a parcel of 172 acres for his daughter Rebecca Maria. Rebecca had married her second cousin, William B. Robertson, on November 18, 1855. He made a gift of fifty acres, and Rebecca agreed to purchase the remainder. The Robertsons named this parcel Holly Grove. In Equity Case #849 (1872) filed after Thomas' death, his widow Martha and Samuel H. Berry, as executrix and executor, sought to recover payment for this land. At that time, William B. Robertson described this 172 acres of Potomac Landing: "There was no fences on the line which separated this land from the old gentleman's land, but he was to put a fence on it which he agreed to do before we agreed to come there. The land was thin, unimproved, with gullies and scrubby pine. If witness had been a judge of land he would not have given five dollars for it. All the improvements were one comfortable quarter the other indifferent with a poor oak shingle roof, worn out which made it not tenantable." Further along in his testimony, William gave an account of a conversation, "In a few days my father in law Thos. W. Robinson came to Washington and told me there his children had returned from the South, his two sons, that his debts were small and he was a happy man." Rebecca and William built a house on the property, a side-hall, double parlor plan that most likely her brother James was builder. They also built accompanying farm structures. (Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Equity Case #849, MSA)
Thomas' son, Franklin, managed the farm after the War. In December 1868 Thomas entered into a sharecropping agreement with Edward Hanson, an African-American. After about a year-long illness, on May 16, 1869, Thomas died, deeply in debt. He was buried beside Elizabeth in the graveyard at St. Thomas' Church. He named as executrix his wife, Martha, and his friend and lawyer, Samuel H. Berry, as executor. His will divided the farm into thirds, one third going to his wife and their son Robert Henry, one third to his son James, and one third to his son Franklin. The land was surveyed according to the will. His personal property was sold but not enough profit was realized to pay off his creditors. The Commissioners of Prince George's County sued the estate on behalf of Thomas' creditors. The outcome was that in 1876 the property was sold at public auction. The Notice of Sale dated September 1, 1876 in the local county newspaper, The Prince Georgian, describes the farm as, "containing 514 2/3 acres More or less. The Improvements consist of a SMALL DWELLING, Three Barns, Stabling, and other necessary outbuildings. It is well wooded and watered, and the soil of fair quality. It has recently been divided into three lots and will be offered in lots, a description of which will be given at the time of sale." The sale was held on September 27, 1876, Lot No. 1 was purchased by Robert for $6.00 an acre, Lot #2 was purchased by Franklin for $5.00 an acre and Lot #3 was purchased by James for $4.00 per acre. Robert and Franklin eventually paid off their mortgage, but James defaulted on his purchase and later moved to St. Mary's County, Maryland. His portion later came to be owned by the Hawkins family, some members who had worked on the Robinson farm. (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County, MSA)
Lot #1, purchased by Robert from his fathers' estate, consisted of 177-1/3 acres, including the dwelling and farm buildings. On July 24, 1872, he married Amanda Malvina Baden (1849-1940), daughter of Robert W. G. and Margaret Caroline Early Baden. The Baden and Early families were both prominent south county families. Robert and Amanda had eight children; Caroline Early (1873 1967), Lucy Tennent (1875 1958), Albert Henry (1878 1914), Martha Perry (1880 1961), Robert Gover (1882 1882), Frank Alexander (1883 1970), Margaret Baden (1886 1956) and Grace Malvina (1889 1965).
By 1880 Robert had paid off his debt on the property and was fully engaged in farming. Unlike his father, or perhaps because of his father, Robert did not add to his land holdings, choosing to remain relatively debt free for his lifetime. The only land transactions he participated in were the sales of 79-3/4 acres in 1921 of Amanda's inheritance from her father and her interest in two smaller parcels of her father's land sold in 1894 and 1928 respectively. In 1928 he transferred 3.09 acres to his son Frank.
As late as the Federal census of 1880, Franklin was living with Robert and his household, both men engaged in farming. Sometime after 1880, Franklin took up residence on his part of Potomac Landing. His brother James most likely built the side-hall double parlor house that copied the main house at Potomac Landing. On February 18, 1897, Martha Robinson, died at the age of ninety. She was buried in the graveyyard of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's County.
Robert continued cultivation of tobacco and small grains as his father before him. The first reference to the farm being named Ferndale is found in the "Communion Record" of Robert's daughter, Martha Perry "Pattie", dated 1896. (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The exact origin or reason for this new name is lost but perhaps the name Potomac Landing held such bitter memories of debt and hardship that, as a symbolic break with the past, a new name was found. It also may have simply been a way to distinguish this portion of Potomac Landing from the others. The farm continued to be listed on tax bills as Potomac Landing well into the 20th century, but was known to the general public and businesses as the Ferndale Farm. (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Robert served as deputy inspector at the State Tobacco Warehouse in Baltimore for eight years under W.B. Bowie. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Brandywine. In July of 1905, Franklin died, a bachelor farmer. He was buried facing south in the graveyard of the Church of the Atonement, Cheltenham, (a chapel in St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish) where he had served as vestryman, treasurer, and cemetery custodian. Franklin died intestate and a lengthy process of dividing his estate began. This resulted in the sale of his part of Potomac Landing (Lot #2) in July 1908 to William E. Boswell. The court declared Robert ineligible for any inheritance due to his being " . . . a brother of the half blood." The Boswell family later sold the property to the Billingsley family of St. Mary's County. (Equity Case 3209, Prince George's County)
In 1910, after living in the farm's original home for approximately sixty seven years, the Robinson family built a new home. It was described in a 1956 insurance policy as, "2 story, frame, metal roof, 16x43, wing 14x28, 9 rooms." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The house design was a simple Victorian with plastered walls, and lit by carbide gas. Electrical lighting was installed in 1951. The house was built with monies from Robert and Amanda, and their son Frank, who served as builder and contractor.
On Tuesday March 9, 1937, "During a celebration in honor of his wifes birthday anniversary, Mr. Robinson collapsed at the table and died immediately without a word or a sigh." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) Robert was buried beside his mother in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden.
At Robert's death, Ferndale Farm was valued at $30.00 an acre, the total acreage, 174 acres, being valued in the whole at $5,220.00. Robert died intestate, again the fate of the land was in question. He left eight heirs, his widow, Amanda, six of his children and his son Albert Henry's only surviving child, R. Henry Robinson. Rather than have the farm sold and his mother's life disrupted, Frank purchased the estate and personal property from the heirs. Before this could take place, a deed had to be granted the heirs for the property since one had never been recorded after the 1876 sale. Equity case 873 was reopened sixty-two years after its supposed resolution. Frank testified, "over a period of about thirty years I would on a number of occasions, talk about the fact that he had purchased and paid for this property and that a deed had never been executed to him and [he] kept saying he was going to have someone straighten this matter out for him." It was discovered that Robert had fully paid for his part of Potomac Landing. On February 14, 1938 the farm was deeded from Amanda along with Robert''s heirs to Frank. (Book 499, page 334, Land Records of Prince George's County) According to the deed and a 1937 fire insurance policy the farm consisted of 177 1/3 acres, "1 two story dwelling, one tenant house, 1 barrack, 1 tobacco barn, 1 corn house & cow stable, 1 Stable, and 1 Granary & Stable." (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Frank A. Robinson, now the sole owner of Ferndale Farm, was born August 17, 1883. He learned farming and in addition took up the trade of builder and contractor. As a young man, he worked in the general store of his uncle Robert Baden. He was the contractor for the first Bank of Brandywine and many homes in and around the town of Brandywine, including the home of his cousin Robert E. Baden, DDS. He was secretary of the Building Committee for construction of the Chapel of the Incarnation in Brandywine, a mission chapel for St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish. His success in the building trade gave him disposable income that he invested in land. His first purchase was in August, 1915 of a 2-9/100 acre of land in Brandywine that was being sold by the Board of County School Commissioners; the purchase price was $300. In March 1916 he purchased 38.09 acres of his Uncle Franklin's farm. This property adjoined Ferndale Farm.
Over the next fifty-four years of his life, Frank bought and sold many pieces of real estate. Perhaps his most significant purchases were: 18-1/3 acres purchased from The German American Colonization Land Company of Maryland in October 1915 (Book 115, pg. 140, Land Records of Prince George's County); 147.99 acres purchased from August and Wilhelmina Noltensmeir in December 1917 (Book 129, pg. 263, Land Records of Prince George's County) and 320 acres called the Vineyard purchased from William M. Wilson in March 1928. Frank used these three parcels as collateral for other purchases. Never once did he mortgage Ferndale Farm, insuring that no matter what financial stormy seas might blow, his home was secure. Over the course of his life, especially in the case of the Noltensmeir farm, when cash was needed a parcel of land would be surveyed off and sold. He inherited his grandfather Thomas' love of land but had fortunately developed a shrewd business sense to go along with it.
On November 20, 1929, he married Elizabeth Freeland Bourne, daughter of Joseph Blake and Maria Gantt Bourne of Calvert County, Maryland. They had three children: Mary Elizabeth (1930-2009), Franklin Alexander (1932), and Robert Lee (1935-1997). In addition to his construction business he continued farming, raising tobacco, hay, and small grains. He engaged in sharecropping with tenants on his various properties. He was active in community affairs serving on the Board of The Maryland Tobacco Growers Association (MTGA), the Vestry of St. Thomas Parish, and as sheriff of Brandywine. On January 9, 1940 Amanda Baden Robinson died. She was buried next to her husband at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden. In February 1958, Frank and Elizabeth conveyed 1.57 acres of Ferndale Farm to son Franklin where he and his fiancée, Adina M. Via, were building their new home prior to their marriage in July of that same year.
The booming economy and suburbanization of the Washington metropolitan area in the early 1960's led to the high quality gravel lying beneath Ferndale into becoming a valuable commodity. In October 1962, Franklin and his parents granted a three-year lease to William C. Nolte for mining sand and gravel on the Ferndale Farm at .174 per yard. (Book 2747, pg. 11, Land Records of Prince George's County) From now until 1975 when the property was sold, gravel would be mined from under the farm by various companies. In November 1962, Elizabeth and Frank transferred to Franklin the 38.09 acres Frank had purchased from Fitzhugh Billingsley in 1916. (Book 2754, pg. 99, Land Records of Prince George's County) That same year they transferred 6.754 acres, part of the Vineyard, to son Robert and his wife Lois, (Book 2765, pg. 201, Land Records of Prince George's County)
On December 28, 1965, Frank and Elizabeth participated in a land exchange/purchase of the farm of Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown located along the Patuxent River in Benedict, Charles County, Maryland. Franklin had rented this farm the year before and was impressed enough by its location and arability to work out a purchase. Frank and Elizabeth traded 65.9920 acres that would eventually become Franklin's under Frank's will. On February 21, 1966 they deeded the Charles County farm to Franklin and Adina. Adina named this property Serenity Farm. The property consisted of 480.66 acres. (Liber 179, page 708 etc., Land Records of Charles County)
On February 5, 1970, after a short illness, Frank died at Cafritz Memorial Hospital. He was buried at St. Paul's Episcopal Church near his parents. In his will, probated March 4, 1970 he left thirty acres of the property purchased from the German American Land Company and A. Noltensmeir to Elizabeth. He willed forty acres of the same parcel to daughter Mary Robinson Conner. The remainder of Ferndale Farm was willed to Franklin and the remaining acreage of the Vineyard was left to Robert Lee.
Franklin Alexander Robinson was born August 13, 1932 at the Garfield Hospital in Washington, D.C.. He received his schooling in the public school system of Prince George's County, graduating from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. He was a charter member of Gwynn Park's chapter of The Future Farmers of America. He was extremely active in FFA, achieving the Degree of Maryland Farmer in 1950 and their highest award, the Degree of American Farmer at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri in October 1953. He obtained his private pilots license in 1954. He entered the United States Army in February 1955 and went through basic training at Camp Gordon, Augusta, Georgia. After basic training he was transferred to Camp Hanford, Washington State. There he worked part time on the farm of Dick and Theresa Laurent during his off duty hours and began a lifelong friendship with them. He returned home to farming on an agricultural discharge in October of 1956. On July 27, 1958 he married his high school sweetheart, Adina Mae Via, daughter of Robert Milton and Virginia Woods Via. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962), and Adina Theresa (1963).
Franklin continued expanding and improving the farming operation by modern methods and means. At times, he farmed over one thousand acres, both owned and rented. On February 21, 1966, his parents deeded their purchase of the Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown farm in Benedict to he and Adina, later known as Serenity Farm Franklin and Adina engaged an architect to draft house plans for an anticipated new residence. A small A frame vacation home was built on the property so the family could spend weekends there.
On December 14, 1966, after a long illness, Adina died from complications associated with Hodgkin's Disease. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Waldorf, Charles County. Franklin married Margaret Walker Lennox (nee Tallen, known as Rita) on August 21, 1970 (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland). This marriage ended in divorce in 1977. There were no children from this marriage.
On July 14, 1975 the Robinson family, Franklin, his second wife, Margaret, her daughter Margaret W. Lennox, Franklin, Jr., R. David, A. Theresa and Elizabeth B. Robinson, moved to Serenity Farm. On July 17, 1975 Franklin and Elizabeth sold the remaining acreage of Ferndale Farm to Brandywine Sand and Gravel, thus ending 131 years of ownership by the Robinson family. Elizabeth Bourne Robinson died on July 15, 1976 and was buried beside her husband at St. Paul's Church, Baden. Franklin married Hiltrud (Ceddie) Harris (nee Sedlacek) on July 15, 1978. (Robinson Family Bible) This marriage ended in divorce in 1986. There were no children from this marriage. Franklin married Diedre Gale Merhiage on April 19, 1989; this marriage ended in divorce in 1997. There were no children from this marriage. He married Remelda Henega Buenavista on January 13, 2007.
The Robinson family continue day-to-day operations of Serenity Farm. The land is well suited to the growing of tobacco and small grains, which crops, (with the exception of tobacco) along with a flock of sheep, are cultivated there to the present time. After the crop year 2001 the Robinson family took the tobacco buyout program offered by the state of Maryland and ceased growing tobacco. Franklin is active in farming and community affairs having served on the vestry of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of Directors of MTGA, the Board of the Production Credit Association, the Boards of three schools, Holy Trinity Day School, Queen Anne School, and Calverton School, and numerous other organizations. Currently the farm consists of approximately 275 acres. In 1981 a state agricultural land preservation district of 222.755 acres was created. This was the first such district in Charles County and one of the first in the state of Maryland.
In 1985, R. David began a greenhouse business for the sale of spring flowering bedding plants and hanging baskets but currently works in conjunction with Farming 4 Hunger to grow produce for local area foodbanks. A. Theresa is involved in the daily running of the farm along with Franklin. Franklin, Jr., obtained a BFA degree in Drama from The Catholic University of America in 1981 and an MA from The American University in Film and Video Production in 1988. He was a civilian employee of the United States Air Force (USAF) from November 1981 to January 1986. He pursued a full time career as a professional actor from 1986-2007 and is a published author and produced playwright. The three siblings have been involved in community affairs, with R. David sitting on the Charles County Agricultural Preservation Board, A. Theresa having served on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Parish, Charles County, and Franklin, Jr. having served on the vestries of both Trinity Parish and St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of the Washington Literacy Council, a choir member of the choir at St. Thomas Church, among other church related posts and as chair of the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission.
The Via family traces its origins to the colony of Virginia, where the probable progenitor of the line, Amer Via, a French Huguenot, settled in Manakin Town, Albemarle County between 1670-1700. It is impossible to trace the Via line definitively due to the loss of Virginia county records during the Civil War.
The Via family line covered in this collection can be definitively traced to William Via of Fredericksville Parish, Louisa (later Albemarle) County, Virginia. The William Via family lived west of the present day town of Whitehall at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area commonly known as Sugar Hollow. William Via III served in the Virginia Line during the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Craig, daughter of Thomas Craig and Jane Jameson, on March 17, 1784. William died on June 27, 1836, in Albemarle County (Rev. War Pension Appl. 6363, National Archives). His son Thomas married Sally, widow Griffin, on January 1, 1811 (Albemarle County Marriage Records). Their son, Hiram Karl Via (1812-1893), married Harriet Ardenia Naylor by license dated March 7, 1836 (Albemarle County Marriage Records).
Hiram and Harriet's son, Robert St. Clair Via (1844-1925), served as a private in Company I, 7th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States Army (CSA Military Service Records, National Archives). After the war he married his first cousin, Mary Frances Naylor, daughter of Samuel Chapman Naylor and Eliza Jane Gardner, on April 3, 1866 in Rockingham County (Rockingham County, Virginia, Marriage Records). Sometime between 1870 and 1872, they moved to Linn County, Missouri, and settled about seven miles from the town of Bucklin. Their son, Hiram Chapman Via (1872-1933), was born there. In 1893, the family returned to Virginia, and settled on a farm in Greene County near the town of Stanardsville.
Hiram Chapman Via operated a mill as well as a farm. On March 15, 1899, he married Adina Eleanor Eusebia Runkle, daughter of Milton D. L. Runkle and Roberta A. Beadles (Greene County, Virginia, Marriage Records). They had three children: Bernice Olive (1902-1999), Robert Milton (1906-1983), and Deward Daniel (1909-1977).
Robert moved to Washington, D.C.. In December 1927 he began employment with the Capitol Traction Company as a streetcar conductor (Robinson and Via Family Papers). During the early 1930s, Robert rented a townhouse at 715 A St., SE, where he lived with his sister Bernice V. McMullan and her son, William C. McMullan; his brother and sister in law, and his parents. Next door, at 717, lived the Moses Albright family, including Moses's stepdaughter Ida Virginia Woods (1914-2010), daughter of Jesse Lee Woods (1894-1918) and Donna Mae Barker (1896-1928) of Frederick County, Maryland. Robert and Virginia began a courtship and on September 3, 1932 were married in Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland (Frederick County, Maryland, Marriage Records).
After their marriage, Robert and Virginia lived in various locations in the Washington metropolitan area. Their first child, Robert Delano, was born on March 24, 1933, and their second child, Adina Mae, was born on April 12, 1937. Virginia was employed outside the home while her children were in school. Her first job before her marriage had been with Woolworth's in Martinsburg, WV working the candy counter and then before the birth of her son at The Hecht Company on F St. in Washington, D.C.. After her marriage she worked briefly for the United States Postal Service in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Beginning in the 1950s, she worked for Charles of the Ritz as a receptionist in their beauty salon located in Woodward & Lothrop's F Street store in Washington, D.C.. She also worked as salon manager at the Charles of the Ritz salons in the Woodward & Lothrop stores in Seven Corners, Virginia, and Chevy Chase, Maryland. She retired due to health reasons in 1973.
On September 10, 1941, Robert and Virginia purchased Lot #43 in Woodlane subdivision in Prince George's County. (Book 619, pg. 12, Land Records of Prince George's County) A house was designed for them for this lot by Clyde E. Phillips. They did not construct a home on this property due to the outbreak of World War II. Robert, due to his employment in public transportation, did not serve with the Armed Services in World War II. On October 18, 1946, they purchased approximately thirty acres bordering on Burch's Creek near the towns of Clinton, also know as Surrattsville, and T.B. in Prince George's County from Joseph H. and M. Pauline Blandford. (Book 873, pg. 483, Land Records of Prince George's County) Over the next three years, hiring private contractors, doing work themselves, and with the help of Robert's brother Deward, they built the two story house designed by Phillips in 1941. They moved to the farm from Capitol Heights in 1949. Robert raised hogs, small grains and a crop of tobacco yearly on this farm and also maintained his job with Capitol Transit (formerly Capitol Traction).
In 1954, Robert and Virginia purchased a farm of approximately 150 acres in Island Creek, Calvert County, Maryland. The intention was for Robert and his son to enter into a full time farming operation on expanded acreage. Robert D. Via, known as Delano, graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. Delano was a part-time farmer and pursued a career as a country and western singer with Bashful Bob and the Rhythm Rangers, he being Bashful Bob. He was employed in various jobs, and began a tour in the Army in 1953. By the time the Via family moved to Calvert County in 1956, he decided to pursue careers other than farming. He eventually traveled and worked in various parts of the United States. He married first Delores Cooper, second Gloria J. Irick, and finally Candice Marinelli in December 1974, they had two children, Robert Marin (1975) and Kirstin Marin (1976).
On June 1, 1956 Robert resigned from his position at Capitol Transit due to health reasons. He and his family moved to the farm in Island Creek, Calvert County where he began full time farming. He and Virginia sold the thirty-acre farm in Prince George's County on June 21, 1956 to Melvin C. and Geraldine H. Rardia. (Book 2003, pg. 564, Land Records of Prince George's County) Virginia continued her employment with Charles of the Ritz. Adina, now a graduate of Gwynn Park High School, was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland. They both commuted daily from Calvert County to their places of employment.
Robert farmed in Calvert County, raising hogs, cattle, small grains and tobacco. Over the course of the next twenty-seven years, Robert and Virginia sold smaller parcels off the farm. In 1974, Robert and Virginia built a small retirement home designed for them by Calvert Masonry Contractors. Robert died on December 22, 1983. He was buried beside his daughter Adina in Trinity Memorial Gardens. At the time of Robert's death, the farm consisted of 28.694 acres. In 1998, Virginia deeded the remainder of the farm, then less than six acres, to her grandson, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. who sold all but a one-acre lot in April 1999.
Virginia continued to live on the farm in Calvert County, maintaining a small herd of cattle. In the fall of 1989 Franklin, Jr. went to live with her. In 1993, the onset of Alzheimer's Disease required her to move to Serenity Farm and take up residence with her granddaughter A. Theresa. Virginia participated in various studies on Alzheimer's Disease conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland beginning in 1992. She was profiled in the September 1997 issue of Washingtonian Magazine. In October of 1998 she moved to All American Senior Care in Brandywine, Maryland and in 1999 she moved to Morningside, an elderly care facility in Waldorf, Maryland. In 2002, she moved to St. Mary's Nursing Center in Leonardtown, Maryland. The remainder of the farm was sold in 1999 and 2002. She died January 14, 2010 and was buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf.
Adina Mae Via was born April 12, 1937 at the Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, D.C.. Adina grew up in Washington, D.C. attending public schools. She moved with her family to the Burch's Creek farm, Prince George's County, in 1949. She enrolled in the Prince George's County school system, and graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June of 1955. After graduation, she was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs.
In July of 1956, she moved with her family to the Via farm in Island Creek, Calvert County. On July 27, 1958 she married Franklin A. Robinson at the Chapel of the Incarnation. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962) and Adina Theresa (1963). In the fall of 1958, she and Franklin took up residence in the home they had built on Ferndale Farm. She resigned from her position with the USAF in 1959.
On December 14, 1966, at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, Adina died from complications due to Hodgkin's Disease. She had been battling this disease for many years prior to her death. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Charles County.
Materials at Other Organizations
The Maryland Historical Society holds items (costume, farming related implements) related to the Robinson and Via families.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Work and Industry (Agriculture Collection) holds agricultural implements and artifacts associated with both the Robinson farms and the Via farm; the Division of Home and Community Life holds clothing, textiles (crib quilt), jewelry, cosmetics and Adina M. Robinson's sewing box and dress patterns; (Costume and Textiles Collection). See accession numbers: 1989.0688, 1990.0394, 1991.0010; 1991.0722, 1992.0184, 1992.0283, 1992.0321, 1992.0474, 1992.3106, 1994.0064, 1994.0304, 1997.0327, 1998.0038, 1998.0129, 2001.0196, 2002.0087, 2003.0015, 2005.0009.
Division of Armed Forces History (National Numismatics Collection) holds the Robert M. Via Trolley Token Collection.
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center, by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., in November 1993.
Unrestricted research use on site to portions of collection, but some papers of living persons are restricted. Access to restricted portions may be arranged by request to donor. Gloves required for unprotected photographs. Viewing film portions of the collection and listening to LP recording requires special appointment.
The Archives Center does not own exclusive rights to these materials. Copyright for all materials is retained by the donor, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.; permission for commercial use and/or publication may be requested from the donor through the Archives Center. Military Records for Franklin A. Robinson (b. 1932) and correspondence from Richard I. Damalouji (1961-2014) are restricted; written permission is needed to research these files. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The collection consists of 109 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings assembled by Julian Black, manager of Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. They document Louis's career from 1935 to 1944.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of 109 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings assembled by Julian Black, manager of Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. They document Louis's career from 1935 to 1944. Louis became one of America's most celebrated sports figures both for his extraordinary boxing skills and for his role as a symbol of national pride, especially in his bouts with the German champion Max Schmeling. His national respect and international prominence stood in ironic contrast to the nation's legal and social practices of racial segregation.
Joe Louis's manager, Julian Black, assembled three sets of scrapbooks to document Louis's career. This collection consists of ninety-two volumes from Black's set, sixteen volumes from a similar but not identical set of scrapbooks assembled for Louis, and one oversize miscellaneous volume.
The third set of scrapbooks belonged to John W. Roxborough, Joe's manager or co-manager from 1933 to 1948. It is held by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. This set contains ninety-four volumes covering the period 1935 to November 1941. Part of this collection has been microfilmed. Although the numbering of the volumes in each of the three sets is different it appears that each set has the same information.
The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings from throughout the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1944 and articles from Ring magazine. This collection documents Joe Louis's fights from June 25, 1935, through 1944, including championship fights from June 22, 1937, through September 29, 1941. (The Steve Ketchel fight on January 11, 1937, in Buffalo is not represented. See the scrapbook volume listing at the end of this guide.)
The scrapbooks were assembled with great care using high-quality binding and paper. The clippings are neatly mounted and show great attention to detail. All clippings are identified by the name of the paper; the day of the week and the date; and the author, artist, or photographer. Clippings include full-length articles and brief sketches, cartoons, photographs, and records and statistics of the boxers. The clippings are grouped in volumes by each of Louis's fights and then arranged chronologically.
Hundreds of major and minor newspapers throughout the United States and Canada are represented in the scrapbooks. Coverage extends from very large metropolitan dailies to small-town newspapers. Among the newspapers represented are titles as diverse as: Akron Beacon Journal; Daily Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia; Shreveport Times; Tribune Tulsa; and the Worchester Daily Telegraph.
While these scrapbooks are about the Joe Louis fights, there is a wealth of material on many other people connected with boxing in this period, including all of Joe Louis's opponents, his trainer, his managers, his promoter Mike Jacobs, and most of the sports reporters and writers of the time. Anyone of any importance connected with boxing during this period can be found in the pages of these volumes. There are also retrospective articles on earlier boxers and historical fights.
The two sets of scrapbooks in this collection are numbered separately: the Julian Black Scrapbooks, Volumes 1-92; and the Joe Louis Scrapbooks, Volumes 17-20, 52-58, 61-63, and 71 and 72. Although much of the same material is found in both sets, there are sufficient differences in content and in physical condition of the volumes. The container list indicates the relationship between the two sets. The 109th volume consists of an oversize miscellaneous scrapbook of random news clippings, 1941-1944, of later Louis matches.
The collection is divided into two series. Clippings arranged chronologically in scrapbooks, grouped in volumes.
Series 1: Julian Black Volumes, 1935-1941
Series 2: Joe Louis Volumes, 1936-1940
Joe Louis Barrow, the seventh child of Monroe and Lily Barrow, was born May 13, 1914 in a cabin in the cotton fields of Lexington, Alabama. While Joe was still a young boy, his father suffered a mental breakdown and later died in the Searcy State Hospital near mobile, Alabama. His mother later married Pat Brooks, a widower with many children of his own, and the combined family moved to Detroit when Joe was ten.
After an introduction to boxing and lessons by his friend Thurston McKinney, Joe tried his luck at competition. The Brewster East Side Gymnasium became a second home for him. At sixteen he entered his first amateur tournament.
Joe Louis was an outstanding amateur. He lost only four decisions in fifty-four fights, and forty-one of his wins were by a knockout. Joe fought his last amateur fight on April 13, 1934, in St. Louis.
John Roxborough had encouraged Louis as an amateur and became his manager when Joe turned pro. Roxborough hired Jack Blackburn, a boxer himself, to coach and train the young Joe Louis. At this time Roxborough also teamed up with Julian Black of Chicago in a business venture that carried over into the management of Joe Louis.
Joe's professional debut took place in Bacon's Arena in Chicago on July 4, 1934. He decisively defeated Jack Kracken for a fifty-dollar purse. Only four of his first twenty-seven foes lasted all fifteen rounds.
As Joe Louis worked his way up the ladder as a contender for the heavyweight championship he acquired the nickname the "Brown Bomber." On May 14, 1935, one day after his twenty-first birthday, the young pugilist signed a ten-year contract with Julian Black. The contract stipulated that fifty percent of Joe Louis's gross earnings from boxing contests, exhibitions, movies, and radio would go to Julian Black. Jack Blackburn, the trainer, was paid from Joe's portion of the money. John Roxborough, the other manager, claimed "to have a contract for twenty-five percent of Louis's gross earnings for an indefinite period."
The newly organized 20th Century Sporting Club, with Mike Jacobs as promoter, operated in competition with Madison Square Garden. The club signed the promising young boxer to an exclusive contract. Joe's first appearance in a New York ring took place at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 1935, against Primo Carnera. Joe KO'd Carnera in the sixth round. On September 24, 1935, also at Yankee Stadium, Joe knocked out Max Baer in the fourth round.
After winning twenty-seven straight fights, including twenty-three KO's, Louis was the heir apparent to James J. Braddock's heavyweight title. On June 19, 1936 he battled max Schmeling, the former champ who was considered washed up. Schmeling surprised everyone by punishing and then finishing Louis off with a twelfth-round knockout.
A year later, in his thirty-sixth professional fight, Joe Louis won the heavyweight crown at twenty three years of age by defeating Jim Braddock in Chicago in eight rounds. Braddock fought Louis to avoid a fight with Max Schmeling and the possible loss of the title to a German. Braddock, however, insisted on a percentage of Louis's future purses. It is generally believed he received ten percent of all Joe's earnings over a period of fifteen years.
After defeating two easy opponents, Louis met max Schmeling in a dramatic rematch on June 22, 1938. Like Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympic Games, Louis symbolized American democracy versus an increasingly menacing Nazi Germany. The irony of a black hero representing a racially segregated society in a symbolic battle between freedom and oppression was not lost on all Americans and, although Louis himself was not a political activist, his example added fuel to the movement for racial equality and civil rights. Louis defeated Schmeling in two minutes and four seconds of the first round.
In the following years promoter Jacobs searched for opponents for Louis. After defeating five former champions - Carnera, Baer, Sharkey, Braddock, and Schmeling-the pickings were slim. on January 25, 1939, Joe "squared-off" with the first Black to fight him professionally -- John Henry Lewis (great-great nephew of Tom Molineaux, the first of America's Black heavyweight champions). Lewis was the light-heavyweight champion of the world and a natural 175 "pounder." He and Joe were close personal friends outside of the ring. Nevertheless, Joe totally outclassed Lewis in the ring.
Joe Louis defended his title twenty times before World War II interrupted his career. He was eventually classified 1-A and inducted into the Army. During the winter of 1941-1942 he staged bouts for the Navy and Army. The service relief fund received $75,000 from the purse of each fight. While in the service the Brown Bomber traveled extensively, giving boxing exhibitions and refereeing bouts. For his service on behalf of the armed forces, he received a citation from the United States government.
Louis retired an undefeated champion March 1, 1949. He came out of retirement and lost a fifteen-round decision to Ezzard Charles on September 27, 1950 at Yankee Stadium. He won eight more fights from the end of 1950 until the fall of 1951. However, on October 26, 1951, Louis lost by a knockout in the eighth round to Rocky Marciano. He retired for good after this comeback attempt. For many years after he retired, Joe had income tax problems and other financial problem. He also underwent a brief stay in a Denver psychiatric hospital. Joe Louis died in 1981. Click here to go to scope and content note.
Joe Louis Heavyweight Championship Fights, 1937-1950:
1937 June 22 -- Joe Louis knocked out James J. Braddock, 8 rounds, Chicago.
1937 August 30 -- Joe Louis defeated TOUT Farr, 15 rounds, decision, New York City.
1937 August 30 -- Joe Louis defeated TOUT Farr, 15 rounds, decision, New York City.
1938 February 23 -- Joe Louis knocked Out Nathan Mann, 3 rounds, New York City.
1938 April 1 -- Joe Louis knocked out Harry Thomas, 5 rounds, New York city.
1938 June 22 -- Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, one round,, New York City.
1939 January 25 -- Joe Louis knocked out John H. Lewis, one round, New York City.
1939 April 17 -- Joe Louis knocked out Jack Roper, one round, Los Angeles.
1939 June 28 -- Joe Louis knocked out Tony Galento, 4 rounds, New York city.
1939 September 30 -- Joe Louis knocked out Bob Pastor, 11 rounds, Detroit, Michigan.
1940 February 9 -- Joe Louis defeated Arturo Godoy, 15 rounds,decision, New York City.
1940 March 29 -- Joe Louis knocked out John Paychek, 2 rounds, New York city.
1940 June 20 -- Joe Louis knocked out Arturo Godoy, 8 rounds, New York city.
1940 Decenber 16 -- Joe Louis knocked out Al McCoy, 6 rounds, Boston.
1941 January 31 -- Joe Louis knocked Out Red Burman, 5 rounds, New York city.
1941 February 17 -- Joe Louis knocked out Gus Dorazio, 2 rounds, Philadelphia.
1941 March 21 -- Joe Louis knocked out Abe Simon, 13 rounds, Detroit, Michigan.
1941 April 8 -- Joe Louis knocked out Tony musto, 9 rounds, St. Louis, Misssouri.
1941 May 23 -- Joe Louis beat Buddy Baer, 7 rounds, Washington, D.C., on a disqualification.
1941 June 18 -- Joe Louis knocked out Billy Conn, 13 rounds, New York city.
1941 September 29 -- Joe Louis knocked out Lou Nova, 6 rounds, New York city.
1942 January 9 -- Joe Louis knocked out Buddy Baer, one round,, New York City.
1942 March 27 -- Joe Louis knocked out Abe Simon, 6 rounds, New York city.
1946 June 19 -- Joe Louis knocked out Billy Conn, 8 rounds, New York city.
1946 September 13 -- Joe Louis knocked out Tami Mauriello, one round, New York City.
1947 December 5 -- Joe Louis defeated Joe Walcott in a 15-round bout by a split decision, New York city.
1948 June 25 -- Joe Louis knocked out Joe Walcott 11 rounds, New York city.
1950 September 27 -- Ezzard Charles defeated Joe Louis in latter's attempted comeback, 15 rounds, New York City.
This collection was donated by Mrs. Julian Black in two installments to the Division of Community Life (now the Division of Home and Community Life), National Museum of American History: twenty-two volumes in 1976 and eighty-seven volumes in 1977.
The collection is open for research. Use of microfiche and microfilm recommended. Some original volumes are fragile.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials documenting the career of Joe Adams, a Los Angeles radio announcer and movie and television actor, who later became Ray Charles's manager.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is comprised of photographs, correspondence, certificates, magazines and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings dating from 1947-1980. The materials document Adams's career in radio and film, as well as touching upon his military experience with the Tuskegee Airmen. Various documents and newspaper features depict Adams's relationship with a multitude of local and national celebrities; of particular note is the long list of musicians represented, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Public figures, including several former mayors of Los Angeles and members of law enforcement, also appear.
The collection also includes magazines featuring articles on Adams and other celebrities and public figures. Adams appears in many advertisements for a variety of products that sponsored his radio shows. There are photographs, programs and advertisements for the movies, shows and plays in which Joe Adams appeared, including Disc Jockey and Carmen Jones. There is correspondence from public relations employees during the Ray Charles tour and from other radio personalities and journalists. There are also several certificates given in appreciation for Adams's community service. Newspaper articles and photographs feature "Joe Adams Day," declared by the mayor of Los Angeles, and document Adams's overseas USO tour to entertain the men and women of the Armed Forces, which was also broadcasted on Armed Forces Radio.
Series 1, Photographs, circa 1947-1980; undated, documents Joe Adams's personal and professional life. The photographs are arranged by subject, including Adams's work in radio and film, his public appearances, celebrities, Joe Adams Day, his work with the military and his later years. There is some overlap among the subject categories. The majority of the photographs cannot be dated. Featured programs, places, organizations and celebrities include the 7th United States Infantry Division, Emma Adams, Jim Ameche, Armed Forces Radio, Milton Berle, Eugene Biscailuz, Ruth Bowen, Fletcher Bowron, Tom Bradley, Tommy Butler, California Artichoke Foundation, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Paul Compton, Billy Daniels, Disc Jockey, the movie, Egyptian Shriners, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Suzette Gomez, Amos Green, Lionel Hampton, Eddie Harbin, Shirley Haven, Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association, Lena Horne, Jamaica, the Broadway play, Joe Adams Day, Danny Kaye, KDAY radio, Korea, KOWL Radio, Joe Lewis, Julie London, Nellie Lutcher, Will Martin, Clarence Metcalf, Husky Miller, MGM Studios, Roy Milton, David "Fathead" Newman, One Night Stand radio program, Pantages Nightclub, Pigalle Nightclub, Pub of Pittsburg, Pa., Lillian Randolph, Willis Reed, "Sugar Ray" Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Timmie Rogers, Ruth Bowen Agency, Wylie "Captain Death" Seldon Jr., Lionel "Chico" Sesma, George "Geo" Shearing, Frank Sinatra, "Star of Stars" Charity Show, Barry Sullivan, The Trenier Twins, The Tuskegee Airmen, USO, Viscount Airlines, Ches Washington, Dinah Washington, and Ben Webster.
Series 2, Scrapbooks, circa 1947-1954; undated, consists of newspaper articles, photographs, advertisements, and playbills. The scrapbooks document Adams's start in radio, his permanent appointment to KOWL, his service in the military and the inner-city community, his unique perspective and his philanthropy. They contain newspaper advertisements for Adams's radio shows on KOWL and the Armed Forces Radio Broadcasts. The scrapbooks include advertisements for his television shows as well as events and benefits where Adams was the featured emcee. Ink drawings of Adams used to advertise various products also appear in the newspaper articles. There are news stories on Joe Adams Day, a bus accident involving Lionel Hampton, the release of Ray Charles's song "Georgia" (1979), and advertisements for the movies Carmen Jones and The Manchurian Candidate. Numerous photographs document Adams's broadcasts and musical performances domestically and abroad as well as his interactions with many celebrities in the musical world. Aside from some newspaper clippings that include the date of publication, the contents of the scrapbooks are not dated. Featured programs, places, organizations and figures include Emma Adams, Ira Adams, Don Allen, Armed Forces Radio, Pearl Bailey, George A. Baron, Count Basie, Harry Belafonte, Irvin Berman, Eugene Biscailuz, Manny Borun, Fletcher Bowron, Charley Browning, Carmen Jones, the movie, Ray Charles, Club de Lisa, Arthur Croghan, Clay Cunningham, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Warren Dorn, Billy Eckstine, Egyptian Shriners, Bob Ellis, Kay Francis, Robert D. Funk, Georgia (by Ray Charles), Lee Gillette, Golden Grooves radio show, Curley Hamner, Lionel Hampton, Hunter Hancock, Addie Hansen, Leon Helflin, Billie Holiday, H. Claude Hudson, Jamaica, the Broadway play, Al Jarvis, Herb Jeffries, Joe Adams Day, Leon King, KOWL Radio, June Kristy, Chuck Landis, Mauri Lyn, The Manchurian Candidate, MGM Studios, Husky Miller, Lucky Millinder, Tim Moor, Otto Preminger, Paul Price, Lillian Randolph, Leonard J. Roach, Caesar Romero, Nina Russell, Lionel "Chico" Sesma, Jerry Simons, Mike Thompson, Sonny Tufts, Sarah Vaughan, T-Bone Walker, Dinah Washington, Leon H. Washington Jr. and Artie Wayne.
Series 3, Other Materials, 1948-1980; undated, includes magazines, correspondence, certificates and newspaper articles. The magazine cover stories are dedicated to fashion or to public figures such as John F. Kennedy, but they each contain a feature on Joe Adams and his involvement in the broadcast industry and the jazz music scene. There are fashion photographic spreads using musical stars that Adams knew well such as Nat King Cole. Two certificates thank Adams for community service to the Hollywood Canteen and the Hollywood Junior Chamber of Commerce (the "Out of this World series" celebrity baseball game). The correspondence is from other members of the broadcasting industry and pertains to matters in and outside of the business realm. The series also contains publicity concerning Ray Charles's tour through South Africa and the story of how Adams came to be his manager. Aside from magazines and newspaper clippings where the date of publication is featured, the majority of these materials are not dated. Featured programs, places, organizations and figures include Ami Artzi, Eddie Chamblee, Ray Charles, The Ray Charles Band, Nat King Cole, Madi Comfort, The Cotton Club, Arthur Croghan, Hilary Falkow, Roberta Flack, Joe Greene, Hollywood Canteen, Hollywood Junior Chamber of Commerce, Lena Horne, Charlotte Moton Hubbard, Karen Hutchinson, Jamaica, the Broadway play, Lyndon B. Johnson, James Earl Jones, Danny Kaye, John F. Kennedy, Lew Lauria, Robert Lewis, Sonny Liston, Paul R. McClure, Ricardo Montalban, Willa Moultrie, Lee Harvey Oswald, Breau Palmer, and Jack Ruby.
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1, Photographs, circa 1947-1980
Series 2, Scrapbooks, circa 1947-1954; undated
Series 3, Other Materials, 1948-1980; undated
Biographical / Historical:
Joe Adams was born on April 11, 1924. A native of Los Angeles, California, he wanted to work in radio at a very young age. Despite the racial discrimination that existed in the radio and television industry, Adams pressed on, practicing public speaking in vacant lots. He also gained confidence serving domestically as a pilot with the 332nd Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Group during World War II.
After his time in the service, Adams was able to get occasional radio work at Hollywood stations such as KFWB, KPAS, KFOX, and KGFJ. In 1946, Adams got the chance to host a fifteen minute radio show at KOWL. He also married his wife, Emma Millhouse, that year.
Within two years, Joe Adams was hosting the number one-rated live radio show in Los Angeles, and the show had expanded from fifteen minutes to five hours. Adams was also able to sign on fifty-six sponsors for his show, a number previously unheard of. This was the beginning of a career that would last for more than twenty years.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Adams garnered success both on the radio, the small screen, and the big screen. He had two television shows, Adams Alley and Joe Adams Presents, made famous for the many music and film stars that Adams featured. Some of the celebrities Adams hosted included Jerry Lewis, Duke Ellington, The Trenier Twins, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Count Basie. Ellington played two themes for Adams's shows, "Take the 'A' Train" and "Smada" ("Adams" backwards). Both songs were written by jazz great, Billy Strayhorn. In 1954, Adams fronted a band that was part of the first USO tour to entertain troops stationed in Korea. Among the band members was actress-turned-singer, Shirley Haven.
Adams opened a nightclub, Pigalle, which was wildly popular in Los Angeles. In addition to being one of the first radio personalities to do a simulcast radio and live show by appearing live at the Paramount Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Adams was the first African American to be featured in an on-air, West Ccoast network radio show.
Adams appeared in nearly thirty movies, including the hit Carmen Jones (1954), where he played Husky Miller, and the original version of The Manchurian Candidate (1962). In 1958, Adams became the first African American to receive the Foreign Correspondents Award for Outstanding New Actors from the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association. The Foreign Correspondents Award would later be called The Golden Globe. In 1957, Adams retired from radio and television to star in the Broadway play, Jamaica, with Lena Horne and Ricardo Montalban.
Adams made many famous friends during his career in broadcasting and film; one of the best known was Ray Charles. After inviting Adams on tour in 1959, Charles asked Adams to become his manager. Adams agreed (although to date, Adams humorously claims, he was never formally hired), and he managed Charles until the musician's death in 2004. Adams helped position Charles for fame through such venues as a long line of Pepsi commercials and the creation of both a Ray Charles studio and a company. Adams even arranged for Charles to tour in South Africa, and he served as both the producer of the Ray Charles Show and the wardrobe designer for Charles and his backup singers, the Raelettes.
Adams also acquired expertise outside the broadcasting and music business. He became a licensed commercial pilot and an authority in law. His philanthropy and his tireless work for African Americans and inner-city communities have been recognized by many organizations, from the Egyptian Shriners to the Urban League. Even his home town of Los Angeles has recognized Adams's efforts, making March 14th the official "Joe Adams Day."
The National Visionary Leadership Project. "Joe Adams." http://www.visionaryproject.
org/adamsjoe (accessed June 20, 2008).
Ray Charles Official Website. "Joe Adams." http://www.raycharles.com/the_legacy_
joe_adams.html (accessed June 28, 2008).
The Division of Culture and the Arts holds artifacts related to this collection, including three jackets and one blue tuxedo worn by Joe Adams during his onstage career with Ray Charles and two scripts from the movie The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and the Broadway musical, Jamaica. See accession number 2005.3098.
Collection donated by Joe Adams.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Sam DeVincent loved music and art and began collecting sheet music with lithographs at an early age.
Series 2: Armed Forces contains circa 3,400 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the military history of the United States; there are only a handful of foreign imprints.
An overview to the entire DeVincent collection is available here: Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music.
Scope and Contents note:
The Armed Forces series contains circa 3,400 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the military history of the United States; there are only a handful of foreign imprints. The World War I subseries (2.4) is particularly impressive with circa 1,150 items. The Post-World War II subseries (2.6) is very small. Some additional military items can be found in the DeVincent file for Presidents of the United States.
The illustrated covers offer the military historian fine portraits of well-known officers, visual evidence about uniforms and other military regalia, and dramatic portrayals of battle scenes. The series also contains material of interest to the social and cultural historian as well as the musicologist. The changing character of the songs indicates something about the accepted public face of different eras--from the Civil War's anguished songs of youthful death to the World War II songs of near denial of the possibility of death; from the Civil War's primary relationship of the soldier boy to his mother to a World War II emphasis upon the relationship of the young service man to his girlfriend.
The material dates from circa 1810 to 1983. Many early imprints are in the armed forces series, subseries 2.1--Pre-Civil War. Most pre-1840 imprints are not dated. Estimates have been made for the dates of many early imprints by checking publisher and address of the publisher in the "Index of Publishers, Engravers and Printers" in volume III of Richard Wolfe's Secular Music in America 1801-1825: A Bibliography and in Oscar Sonneck's A Bibliography of Early Secular American Music. Several sheets that appear to be very old could not be dated by this method.
The Ephemera file, arranged in the same subseries as the sheet music, is described after the subseries. The armed forces ephemera file is placed in two document boxes numbered with the same series and subseries numbers as the sheet music.
The seven subseries in the armed forces series are arranged chronologically except for the last subseries, Naval History. These subseries includes: 2.1 Pre-Civil War; 2.2 Civil War; 2.3 Pre-World War I; 2.4 World War I; 2.5 World War II; 2.6 Post-World War II; 2.7 Naval History; 2.8 Marine Corps.
Arranged in 9 subseries.
2.1: Pre-Civil War
2.2: Civil War
2.3: Pre-World War I
2.4: World War I
2.5: World War II
2.6: Post -World War
2.7: Naval History
2.8: Marine Corps
Materials in Other Organizations:
Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
This collection contains duplicates of materials in the Smithsonian collection, as well as materials acquired by Mr. DeVincent after the donation to the Smithsonian. The phonograph records described above were transferred to the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Donald J. Stubblebine Collection of Musical Theater and Motion Picture Sheet Music and Reference Material, 1843-2010 (AC1211)
Forms Part Of:
Series 2: Armed Forces forms part of the
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music
An ongoing, updated list of DeVincent topical series is available via the Smithsonian finding aid portal.
Series 2: Armed Forces forms part of the Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music .
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music
Series 1: Transportation
Series 2: Armed Forces
Series 3: African-American Music
Series 4: Songwriters Volumes I and II
Series 5: Politics and Political Movements
Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars
Series 7: Sports
Series 8: Geography
Series 9: Domestic and Community Life
Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes
Series 11: Entertainment
Series 12: Plants and Animals
Series 13: Agriculture, Business, and Law
Series 14: Calendar, Time, and Weather
Series 15: Holidays and Celebrations
Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music
Series 17: The Human Condition, Physical, Mental, Behavioral
Series 18: Dance
Series 19: Art and Literature
Series 20: Newspapers
Series 21: Musical Instruments
This collection was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 from Sam and Nancy Lee DeVincent.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
To a group of children, Bob Gibbs talked about the Civil War, military service, and notable Black regiments. He also explained the role of Anacostia during the Civil War years, specifically the forts in Anacostia.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.