Midway, Japan: 1942-1946.
Unbound. A wooden box measuring 10.5 x 5.5" x 5" with "Midway 1942-44" written in black lettering across the top. The box is reinforced with tape at the corners and has a small hook closure. Contains 477 silver-gelatin photographs measuring between .½" x .½" and 4" x 5" some with captions, with some duplicates. The box is very good with rubbing, some mustiness and worn edges; the photographs are near fine with a bit of curling at the edges.
A collection of photographs taken by a seaman while serving with the U.S. Navy between 1942 and 1946 housed in a custom made box, presumably crafted by the soldier. The photos are largely taken in the Pacific Theater with images from Midway as well as various places in Japan taken just after the war. They are accompanied by paper sleeves printed with “Official U.S. Navy Photograph” and some with penciled captions by the sailor who appears to have been a Navy press photographer. His photographer's eye can be seen throughout the images of wildlife and landscapes on the various islands he was stationed, as well as the portrait photographs of his fellow sailors, some in uniform, pith helmets, or shirtless in the Pacific heat. Others show images of men posed in their tents, in a makeshift office, setting up tents, and posed at the “press shack.” Also photographed were locals in the various towns where they set up barracks captioned: “Okinawa working women,” “Okinawa women washing clothes,” and “Gooneys Midway.” Sailors are seen posed with local women and children, captured in portrait style shots, and working in fields. Some of the sleeves read “prints of found Jap negatives in hills of Okinawa.” Japanese architecture is pictured throughout the collection with images of pagodas and carved details on various homes.
It’s possible that this sailor was part of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit which began in 1942 under the command of Edward Steichen. According to historian Mark D. Faram, the unit was started to “document and publicize its [the Navy’s] aviation activities and allowed Steichen to recruit the most talented photographers he could find.” Historian Christopher Phillips writes, “Steichen's prime concern—don't photograph the war; photograph the man, the little guy; the struggle, the heartaches, plus the dreams of this guy. Photograph the sailor." These photographs reflect those orders with views of sailors, local sceneries, and people seen on their tours of duty.
A nice collection of Naval press photography and vernacular images from the Pacific Theater during World War II.