Guide to the John William Cain Papers, 1920s-1960s


The John William Cain Papers are predominantly comprised of photographs, but also contain his naval records, certificates of achievement, a small amount of correspondence, and travel memorabilia.

Collection Details

Collection Number
John William Cain papers
Cain, John William
2 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

This collection consists largely of photographs, including albums and loose snapshots, documenting Cain's Navy service and travels in the mid-twentieth century, including World War II. The Personal Documents Series contains service record and other administrative or official Navy records and a few pieces of miscellaneous correspondence. The Photographs Series includes images of Cain and his family, as well as photos of his naval service to Japan and China.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

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warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

How to Cite

[Identification of item], John William Cain Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Personnel Files, 1940s-1960s
(2 folders)

Contains naval records, academic transcripts, leave requests, pay documents, and personal records.

Box 1
Officer's Qualification Record Jacket, 1929-1946

Contains performance reviews, list of vessels on which John Cain served and in which capacity, and officer's questionnaire.

Box 1
Personal Identification, Membership, Service, and Retirement Cards
Box 1
Correspondence, 1927-1958

Contains a note breaking up with a girlfriend, a telegram, and a couple thank-you notes for wedding gifts.

Box 1
Service and Death Certificates, 1946-1966, undated
Box 1
Travel Memorabilia

Various items and keepsakes from his time abroad while in the U.S. Navy.

Box 1

2. Photographs, 1920s-1960s

The loose photographs of John William Cain are sorted into the following categories: personal and family, naval life, and sightseeing. There may be some overlap. There is a small collection of photographs of Japanese flower arrangements, several photo albums, and some loose photo album pages.

Box 1
Box 1
Personal and Family Photos
(2 folders)

Photographs of John William Cain by himself, with family, and with friends.

Box 1
Naval Life
(3 folders)

Photographs from Cain's time spent in the navy. There are photographs of ships he served on, fellow naval officers, and depictions of everyday life in the U.S. Navy.

Box 2
(3 folders)

Photographs of the places in which Cain served.

Box 2
Japanese Flower Arrangements
Box 2
Photo Albums

Two smaller photo albums with images from his early years in the Navy and memorabilia. One large photo album from Cain's service in China.

Box 3
Box 4
Inserted Photographs

Photographs that were loose on the first page of the photo album in Box 4.

Box 4
Loose Photo Album Pages

Personal photographs, postcards, and photographs from early years in the U.S. Navy.

Box 4

Historical Note

John William Cain (1909-1965) entered the U.S. Navy in 1924 and served in varying capacities until 1964. After being released to inactive duty in 1946 to attend college, he was recalled to active duty in 1950. He spent a good deal of time in China, Japan and Vietnam. He retired from the Navy in 1964 and died from mesothelioma in 1965. While he was not on active duty, he spent his time working on his ranch in Texas with his wife and two children.

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The John William Cain Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2014.

Processing Information

Processed by: Janice Hansen, January 2015.

Accessions described in this finding aid: 2014-0051