Donald H. Swann served in the United States Army from 1944-1946, and was posted in Tokyo and at Hachinohe Airbase, Japan during the Allied Occupation after World War II. This collection consists of 84 photographs, 135 letters and postcards of correspondence Swann wrote to his family, describing his experiences and observations in Japan. There are also a few clippings, and a certificate from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
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1 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)
84 Photographs : B/W and Color
Donald H. Swann served in the United States Army from 1944-1946, and was posted in Tokyo and at Hachinohe Airbase, Japan during the Allied Occupation after World War II. This collection consists of 84 photographs, 135 letters and postcards of correspondence Swann wrote to his family, describing his experiences and observations while serving in the Army both in the United States and in Japan. Many of the letters include his thoughts and opinions on the movie stars in films he watched on base or nearby. The letters Swann sent to his parents originally included photographs and gifts from different parts of Japan or souvenir shops in California. There are also a few clippings, and a certificate from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Correspondence of note includes: a letter dated August 7, 1945 while Swann was posted at Fort Ord, California in which he writes about the atomic bomb; a letter dated August 14, 1945 shares that his ship "somewhere at sea in the Pacific" received the official news that day that Japan had surrendered; a letter postmarked August 27, 1945 shares more of his commentary about peace with Japan and the atomic bomb (the date Swann wrote on the letter was censored); a letter dated September 7, 1945 to his friend Tay indicates he thought he would be in the 8th Army occupying Tokyo or the 10th in Korea; a letter dated September 12, 1945 in which Swann mentions that his 81st Division is scheduled to occupy Aomori, Japan on September 23; and a letter dated September 30, 1945 giving a full description of his departure on the USS Rockwall from Leyte Island, Philippines and his arrival in Aomori, Japan.
Note: Some of the letters of correspondence include descriptions of local peoples that are harmful. The harmful language within the original documents was not censored because it provides historical context for understanding the era, attitudes, and opinions of the materials’ creators.
Donald H. Swann was born on October 23, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dr. Elmer Taylor Swann and Ruth Chapline Fouke. He had an older brother, Elmer Taylor Junior, and two sisters, Katheryn Jean Swann Burns and Helen Ann Swann Matteson. In 1932, during the Great Depression, Donald and his brother went to live in Brodhead, Wisconsin with their grandparents. In 1935, the family was reunited and then moved to Oquawka, Illinois where Elmer Swann became the town doctor. Donald graduated from Oquawka High School in 1944 and was immediately drafted into the United States Army, serving in the Infantry. Before serving in the Pacific Theater in Japan during the Allied Occupation, he trained and served in the United States at Fort Riley, Kansas; Camp Robinson, Arkansas; Fort Ord, California; Camp Beale, California; and Fort Sheridan, Illinois. In August 1945, Donald was shipped out to Japan via the Philippines. His ship stopped at Eniwetok Atoll (Marshall Islands), Ulithi (Caroline Islands), and Tacloban and Dulag on Leyte Island (Philippines). Japan surrendered to the United States while he was en route to Japan, and so his time serving in Tokyo and at Hachinohe Airbase, Japan was during the Allied Occupation after World War II. Upon arriving in Japan, Swann was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 323rd Regiment, 81st Division. He served as a switchboard operator at Hachinohe Airbase. After being discharged from the Army, Donald left the mid-west to work in Baltimore, Maryland and New York City, New York where he died in 1964.
The materials in this collection are arranged chronologically.
This collection was donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by Ann S. Matteson, Donald H. Swann's sister, on March 31, 2022.
The materials arrived mixed with no discernable order. The letters were removed from envelopes and unfolded, then placed in acid-free folders. Envelopes and all the contents were kept together in the folders and separated with acid-free paper. Sometimes the date stamp is a few days different than the date recorded on the letter. The date stamp can be used to verify the sender's location. Several letters and postcards were not dated and these were placed after the main group of correspondence with circa date ranges to indicate the likely years in which the correspondence was created. All materials were housed in acid-free boxes.
Two letters dated December 3, 1945 and October 2, 1946 have lipstick kisses imprinted on the pages. There is no indication in the content of the letters explaining why. The lipstick does not appear to be a preservation concern.