Page from the Past: A Sailor’s Map Journal

(The following story, written by Center for the Book intern Maria Comé, is featured in the September/October 2015 issue of the LCM, which you can read in it’s entirety here.)

Map and diary of U.S. Navy Signalman 3rd Class Homer Buford Clonts, who detailed his movements and battles in the Pacific from 1943-1945.Sept. 2, 1945, marked the end of World War II, following the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied forces. Seventy years later, researchers can access the eyewitness accounts and memorabilia of those who served in the war, which have been collected by the Veterans History Project (VHP) in the Library’s American Folklife Center.

One of the more unusual acquisitions, pictured above, is a combination journal and map kept by Homer Bluford Clonts, a Navy signalman who served in the Pacific on the USS Eldorado from 1943 to 1945. Under the command of Adm. Kelly Turner, the ship and its crew helped capture the island of Iwo Jima. Were it not for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that hastened the war’s end, Clonts and his shipmates might have been part of the U.S. mission to invade Japan, set to begin on Nov. 1, 1945.

“This is not what you’d consider a typical journal,” said VHP archivist Andrew Cassidy-Amstutz. “Clonts annotated the front of this oversized map of the Pacific Ocean with his ship’s arrivals and departures from various islands. On the reverse, he kept a detailed journal of the military encounters he and his shipmates faced. His entries illustrate the daily challenges and terrors of military deployment.”

“The Navy has lost more men here at Okinawa than the Army and Marines together,” Clonts wrote in an undated entry. “Ships have been hit every day, mostly by suicide planes.”

Journal detail of Clonts' movements and battles from 1943-1945. Veterans History Project.

Journal detail of Clonts’ movements and battles from 1943-1945. Veterans History Project.

The map journal came to the Library jammed in a poster tube, covered in tape and water-stained.

Prior to extensive conservation treatment, the map was badly distorted from the tape and unusable. The paper was very fragile and more than 35 feet of adhesive tape used to repair tears in the map’s many folds had to be removed both manually and with solvents.

“This was a very challenging treatment,” said Heather Wanser in the Library’s Conservation Division, who painstakingly performed the work. “The colored inks used to print the map, and the pen ink that Clonts used, were soluble in some of the solvents that are used to remove tape and adhesive. Some of the tape was extremely tenacious.”

Following conservation treatment, the historically significant text is legible.

In September 1945, Clonts wrote, “The war is over.” His journal concludes with this entry on Nov. 10, 1945, “Discharged from U.S. Navy.”

DICE-y Digitization

The following post is by Elizabeth Pieri, one of 36 college students who participated in the Library’s Junior Fellow Summer Intern Program. She’s in her fourth year at Rochester Institute of Technology, as a motion picture science major. Because her program focuses on the fundamental imaging technologies used in the motion picture industry, she was […]

Conservator’s Picks: Treating Treasures

(The following is a story in the January/February 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Conservation Division chief Elmer Eusman discusses conservation treatment options for a variety of prized collection items. Pre-Columbian Objects “Collections such as this classic Maya whistling vessel, dated A.D 400-600, […]

The Warrior Poet (a.k.a. Fellow Traveler No. 1)

Many larger-than-life figures have served as the Librarian of Congress.  As the Library once again plays host to that seminal document affirming the rule of law, Magna Carta, today we shine a spotlight on the man who was Librarian of Congress when the great charter first visited the Library – Archibald MacLeish. MacLeish, before his […]

Rare Map on Display at Library Scored Some “Firsts”

(The following is a guest post by Wendi A. Maloney, writer-editor in the U.S. Copyright Office.) Engraver Abel Buell “came out of nowhere,” at least in terms of cartography, when he printed a United States map in 1784. “He’d never done a map before,” says Edward Redmond of the Library’s Geography and Map Division. Nonetheless, […]

Inquiring Minds: The Intrepid Explorer

(From time to time, we’ll feature the story of one of our many researchers here at the Library and the discoveries they made using our collections. The following is the story of Meg Kennedy Shaw, who conducted research on her father, a British desert explorer, botanist and archaeologist.) Meg Kennedy Shaw has made many trips to […]

A Journey to the Northwest Frontier in 1783: The Journal of George McCully

(The following is a guest post by Julie Miller, early American specialist in the Manuscript Division.) People who visit the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress often ask where our collections come from. Sometimes the answers are surprising. This is true for a journal kept in 1783 by a Revolutionary War veteran from Pennsylvania […]

WDL Marks 5 Years of Sharing Cultural Treasures with Globe

(The following is an article written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) The idea was as big as the planet itself: Gather and digitize the globe’s  cultural treasures, assemble them  on one website and make them available to the world for free and in multiple languages. Such a project, […]

Ten Thousand Treasures

The World Digital Library – a website of world cultural treasures offered free of charge in seven languages to anyone on the planet with access to the Internet – has put up its 10,000th offering. It was part of a package, actually – a group of rare manuscripts from the collections of the Walters Art […]