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Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-4483
fax (757) 683-5954


Military History - Introduction

This guide describes the collections relating to military history, with the exception of the Civil War collections, housed in the Special Collections Department of the Old Dominion University Library. The collections described include the papers of individuals and the records of a ship in the United States Navy. These collections document United States involvement in military actions from World War I to the 1980s and include revealing letters home from an artillery officer with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, an admiral’s research material, including correspondence and German military documents, used for the publication of two books on German military operations, letters home from Korea, photographs from World War II and Vietnam, and the records of a Navy repair vessel compiled for the ship’s history. Included in these collections are correspondence, literary productions, recollections, press releases, military documents, newspapers, memorabilia, research materials, and photographs.

The entries are arranged alphabetically, including the collection number, the inclusive dates of the collection and the collection's size. Please note the collection number because it acts as the location code. Electronic finding aids are available where highlighted. All other finding aids are available in the repository.


MG 61 Howard B. Aison, 1920-1997. 8 documents cases and 2 oversize boxes.

Graduated from Georgetown University in 1942 with a degree in Foreign Service. Drafted into the Army in 1942. Served with the 77th Ordnance Depot Company taking part in the Allied campaigns in North Africa, Italy, Southern France, and Germany. Left the Army, but re-enlisted as an officer in 1948. Ordered to Korea, where he served from March 1952 to September 1953. In Vietnam, he was a senior advisor to the 6th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, I Corps, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Collection contains material that amply document Aison's service in these three wars. Of note is a series of correspondence he wrote his wife during his time in Korea, and a collection of photographs taken during his service in World War II and Vietnam.

MG 29 Walter C. Ansel, 1939-1973. 36 Hollinger Documents Cases, 2 Oversize Boxes.

Graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1915 and served in both World Wars. Retired from the Navy in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. Recalled to active duty from September, 1952 to April, 1953 to facilitate his research on German naval operations due to his receipt of the United States Naval Academy’s Forrestal Fellowship. Collection includes correspondence, German military documents and reports, publications, maps, sketches, drawings, and photographs. Bulk of the collection consists of research material used in the production of two books, Hitler Confronts England and Hitler and the Middle Sea. Of note is extensive correspondence with junior German officers of the Luftwaffe (Air Force), Army, and Kreigsmarine (Navy) that document German military operations of the second World War, many of which are in German. Also of interest is the large number of German military documents and reports.

RG 1-1B1 Francis Crenshaw, 1922-1975. 20 Hollinger Document Cases.

Member of Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors, 1968-1976. Material relates to his service as member and rector of the Board. Also contains papers of his father, Captain Russell Crenshaw (1886-1975), that chiefly relate to his service in the navy during World War II.

MG 49 Hodges Family Papers (1754-1979). One Hollinger Document Case.

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical information, scrapbook materials, photographs. Collection primarily focuses on General John Hodges, William H.H. Hodges, and Colonel James Gregory Hodges.

RG 17-2B1  The Personal Papers of Alice R. Jaffe. 2 Hollinger Documents Cases.

This collection contains assorted reports, magazines, newspaper articles, etc. relating to Hampton Roads history and the early history of Old Dominion University. Material of importance is a compilation of articles, speeches, and editorials of Louis Jaffe, Alice's husband, correspondence and legal documents of Captain Samuel Davis from the early 1800's, and material relating to the construction of a house in Virginia Beach, built in 1936 for Colonel Henry L. Rice, Alice's father.

MG 37 Samuel Leyens Switzer, 1910-1957. 5 Hollinger Document Cases and 2 Oversized Boxes.

Born on November 26, 1896 into a prominent family of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Switzer owned and managed the Valley Dry Goods Company department store. Collection includes correspondence, literary productions, legal documents, newspaper and magazine clippings, maps, memorabilia and photographs, the bulk of which dates from 1911-1920. Noteworthy is the extensive correspondence which documents the life of a college student, military training at camps in Plattsburgh, New York, Leon Springs, Texas, and Douglas, Arizona, and Switzer’s personal experiences as a Lieutenant in the Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and Germany during World War I. Switzer’s letters provide descriptions of France and her people, the drudgery of military life, how soldiers relieved boredom, the final days of the war before the Armistice, the march into Germany, and the early months of the Occupation. Letters to Switzer document life on the home front and the fears of friends and family with a loved one overseas. The researcher will also discover, upon careful examination, popular slang terms, a description of a hurricane, prejudices and fears, reactions to new inventions and a glimpse into the life of a young American in the early twentieth century. Of note are maps of France and Germany during World War I, which detail battle positions and troop movements.

MG 57 U.S.S. Vulcan (AR-5), 1941-1984. 5 Five Hollinger Documents Cases.

A Navy repair vessel commissioned on June 16, 1941. Presently the Atlantic Fleet’s oldest active ship. Played an active role in World War II, participating in the Battle of the Atlantic, supporting the invasions of Sardinia, Corsica, Anzio, and southern France, repairing ships damaged from kamikaze attacks in the Pacific, and serving during the Occupation of Japan (1945-1946). In the post-war years the U.S.S. Vulcan continued to provide an important service to the Navy. Repaired ships manning the naval blockade during the Cuban Quarantine operation (November 3-29, 1962) and provided repair support to the fleet engaged in the Dominican Republic intervention of 1965. On November 1, 1978, the U.S.S. Vulcan became the first non-hospital ship in the Navy to receive women officers. Collection is compilation of materials a crew member, Michael A. Southwood, gathered during his service on the ship from 1982-1983 for the purpose of writing the ship’s history. Includes historical material, annual command histories, memorandums, memorabilia, crew member recollections, press releases, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and photographs. Aside from documenting the military actions in which the vessel participated and the activities of a repair vessel in the United States Navy, the collection also provides a glimpse into the recreational activities in which the crew engaged.

Revised: 3/27/2008