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Dewey and Almeda Stewart Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS-2158

Scope and Contents note

Almost all of this collection is personal correspondence between Dewey and Almeda Stewart, a husband and wife separated by his service in the Navy during World War Two. The couple had only been married eight months when he departed for the Pacific Islands. Therefore, much of the content of the letters is of a very personal nature- detailing the longing and loneliness of a young couple separated by war and the excitement of planning a happy future together. Dewey was away for just under one year yet he wrote her almost every day, sometimes twice a day.

Dewey makes several references that may be of special interest to historians. In a letter dated April 13, 1945, he expresses sadness over President Roosevelt’s death saying that the country had experienced the “loss of a great man-”describing him as “intensely patriotic.” In a letter dated August 7, 1945, a reference is made to a newsreel shown to servicemen about the “new bomb” that will bring the war “to a screeching halt.” In a letter dated August 11, 1945, Dewey says that he and his fellow servicemen received “unofficial news” from the Navy that Japan had surrendered. On August 14, 1945, he describes a huge celebration held on the base. *August 15, 1945 is the “official” date historically recorded for Japan’s surrender.*

Many of the letters had portions cut out by the war censor, which was officially lifted on September 4, 1945. Dewey’ subsequent letters are significantly more personal and provide more details about the Navy, what he is doing, and where he is.

Dewey writes on various service letterhead that may be of special interest including: U.S. Naval Air Station; USO; U.S. Navy; U.S. Naval Receiving Station; Airmail; and American Red Cross.

The collection also includes the last four letters Almeda wrote to Dewey before he came home. They discuss her happiness that the war is over and plans for their reunion. Additionally, there is one letter to Dewey Stewart from Roger H. Biddle, a Navy buddy who is stationed on the U.S.S. Moon near Okinawa. Letters from two of Almeda Stewart’s brothers (both enlisted in the Army) are enclosed- the first is from Melvin Wagner, who is stationed in Japan; the second is from Raymond Wagner, who is stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.

The collection contains several scenic “Pictorial Wonderland” postcards; telegraphs; pamphlets distributed by the U.S. Navy; several “Orders of Worship” for church services “at sea;” and various holiday cards from 1944-1945.

Dates

  • 1944 - 1945

Creator

Biographical/Historical note

Dewey and Almeda Stewart were married on June 10, 1944 in Hernando, Mississippi. Dewey was an aviation metal smith, 1st class, in the U.S. Navy. He met Almeda while training at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Memphis, Tennessee. After marrying, the couple lived in Memphis until Dewey completed his training at the end of 1944. In February 1945, Dewey was sent to the Naval Receiving Station in Shoemaker, California. There he had two surgeries, one for a burst appendix and one to remove his tonsils. He shipped out on the U.S.S. Audubon on June 1, 1945. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on June 7, 1945, staying in port two days for supplies before departing for the Pacific Islands. Almost a month later, on July 2, Dewey and the Audubon docked at Samar Island in the Philippines. He worked in the mailroom and serviced ships and airplanes while serving on Samar. Dewey would remain here until the end of the war, obtaining transport home at the end of September 1945. He never saw any combat action during his brief Navy service during World War Two.

While Dewey served in the Pacific, Almeda stayed with various relatives. First she returns to her parents' home in Dulaplaine, Arkansas. After a few months, she moved to Union Springs, Alabama, to live with Dewey's mother. She found a job working in a five and dime store and remained there for the duration of Dewey's service.

Almeda Stewart had three brothers--Harrison Wagner, Melvin Wagner, and Raymond Wagner--all of whom served overseas during World War Two.

Extent

0.8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection consists mainly of correspondence between a young married couple during World War Two. It also includes various miscellaneous World War Two-era items and service-related materials.

Provenance

Gift of Wade Hall, 2008

Processed by

Allison Winston, 2008

Creator

Source

Title
Guide to the Dewey and Almeda Stewart Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Allison Winston
Date
2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266
205.348.0500