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Guide to the African American soldier's World War II photograph album of India, circa 1942-1945

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Summary

Collection comprises a 16-page 8 1/2 x 11 inch photograph album belonging to an unidentified member of the 45th Engineer General Service Regiment, a segregated unit of African American soldiers stationed in Ledo, India beginning in 1942. Their charge was to build a portion of the Stilwell Road, a major supply route from India to China. Mounted on loose pages, the 44 black-and-white snapshots include posed and candid images of individuals and groups of African American soldiers, at work and at rest. Soldiers identified in the captions include Charley Woodard, Clarence Benson, Charles J. Greene, and Cain Walker. There are also photographs of buildings on the base, including Battalion Chapel, headquarters (labeled "The Gateway to Hell"), Harmony Church, and a large Stilwell Road sign, along with various shots of military equipment, a "Coolie Camp," the "laundry man," and the Taj Mahal. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11490
Title
African American soldier's World War II photograph album of India
Date
circa 1942-1945
Extent
0.2 Linear Feet, 1 box
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Content Description

Collection comprises a 16-page, 8 1/2 x 11 inch photograph album belonging to an unidentified member of the 45th Engineer General Service Regiment, one of at least four segregated units of African American soldiers active, stationed in Ledo, India beginning in 1942. Their charge was to build a portion of the Stilwell Road, a military supply route from Ledo in Assam, India, through Burma, to Kunming, China.

The album's original binder is no longer present. Mounted on the loose pages are 44 black-and-white snapshot photographs, most measuring 3 x 4 1/2 inches, some with brief captions in ink. The images include posed and candid snapshots of individuals and groups of African American soldiers, at work on the base and during periods of rest. Soldiers identified in the captions include Charley Woodard, Clarence Benson, Charles J. Greene, and Cain Walker. There are also photographs of buildings on the base, including Battalion Chapel, headquarters (labeled "The Gateway to Hell"), Harmony Church, a large Stilwell Road sign, along with varied shots of military equipment, a "Coolie Camp," the "laundry man," and the Taj Mahal. There are a number of blank pages, and there are some photographs missing.

Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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Collection is open for research.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], African American soldier's World War II photograph album of India, circa 1942-1945, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Photograph album (loose pages only), circa 1943-1945
Box 1
 

Historical Note

The Stilwell Road, a supply route running more than a thousand miles from India to Burma and China, was built chiefly by African American soldiers and local inhabitants almost throughout the whole of World War II. Named after General Joseph Stilwell of the U.S. Army in 1945, it was originally known as the Ledo Road. The soldiers in the album seem to have been with the 45th Engineer General Service Regiment, 382 Engineer Combat Battalion, United States Army.

Related Material

The Rubenstein Library at Duke University holds a number of photograph albums created by African American soldiers. To find their collection guides, search the Rubenstein collection guides site using the string "African American soldiers."


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The African American soldier's World War II photograph album of India was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Alice Poffinberger, 2011; encoded by Paula Jeannet, June 2017.

Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2011-1021