Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Farewell from Librarian Mike Maloney

Four years goes by way too quick and today is my last day as Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society. The Grems-Doolittle Library blog will be on hiatus for a while as we search for a new librarian/archivist. This blog gave me a place to write about some of the more obscure and weird topics of Schenectady's history. It also served as a way to make readers aware of just how interesting our collections are.

When I first started as librarian/archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, I knew very little about Schenectady history. Over time I grew to become very fond of Schenectady County as I learned more about it and I got to see first hand just how passionate our members and patrons are about their county's history. This was demonstrated yesterday at my last outreach program which was a bit different than my usual programs that focus on genealogy or preserving family documents. I was asked to speak on the history of the Mont Pleasant neighborhood at the brand new Mont Pleasant branch of the Schenectady County Public Library. This was a fun presentation as I got to speak to people who were very passionate about their neighborhood and shared some great stories about living there. Seeing this passion has been one of my favorite things about working at SCHS. Whether it's a genealogist making a discovery that connects them to an ancestor, or watching the delight on someone's face as they go through images of historic Schenectady, it has been very satisfying to help people make these connections.

My position as Librarian/Archivist has given me everything I could ask for in a job and I am slightly jealous of my eventual replacement as they will get to work with a wonderful group of people. Everyone at SCHS has been supportive and fun to work with and I am greatly appreciative of my coworkers for creating such a great work environment. This position has been challenging in a way that has allowed for some great personal and professional growth. One specific accomplishment that I am very proud of is making our collections more accessible through digitization, finding aids, and catalogs. During my time here we have digitized and made available over 1,500 items on our New York Heritage Page. We have also rolled out our online catalog and created many finding aids and indexes that can be found on our library collection page.

Of course, very little of this work could be accomplished without the help volunteers. Our volunteers digitize, rehouse collections, create indexes and finding aids and work on a variety of other tasks. Looking back on the projects that our volunteers finished, I'm astonished. Our volunteers are a dedicated and wonderful group and I truly appreciate everything they have done for SCHS. When I first started, our volunteers showed me the ropes and were always around if I had a question or just to chat. Not being a Schenectady native, they were especially helpful in answering some of my more specific questions about the county. All of our volunteers have added great value to our library and have not only made an impact on our collections, but made SCHS a very welcoming place to work and I can't thank them enough for everything they have done.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Blakeslee Family of Schenectady

This blog post was written by library volunteer Erin Hill-Burns.

Editorial note: Every once in a while, a historian or historical society will find items that are not their scope and send them on to a more fitting repository. This recently happened when Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts sent us a family history book titled Happenings in Our Home that was kept by the Blakeslee family of Schenectady. Library volunteer Erin Hill-Burns did some extensive genealogical research on the Blakeslee family and found a very interesting connection between the Blakeslees and the Schenectady County Historical Society. Read more about the family below. -  Librarian, Mike Maloney

On 17 April 1909, John Roy Blakeslee and Mabel Mary Shea, both graduates of Cornell University, were married in Syracuse, New York. After a honeymoon, the couple began their life together in Schenectady, where John had a job at General Electric.[1]

John was born 6 April 1878 in Whitehall, New York.[2] He grew up in Whitehall, likely the son of John Blakeslee, a dry goods merchant, and Elizabeth (Spooner) Blakeslee. The elder John died in 1892, Elizabeth died in 1912, and both were buried in Whitehall.[3]

Mabel was born 21 February 1880 in Pulaski, New York and later moved to Syracuse; she was the daughter of John W. Shea, a lawyer, and Sylvia L (Cross) Shea.[4] John died in 1925, Sylvia died in 1943, and both were buried in Syracuse.[5]

Shortly after their marriage, John and Mabel began keeping notes of family events, gatherings, milestones, and more in a diary/scrapbook titled Happenings in Our Home. This book gives information and clues about their family history as it happened, including some insights into everyday life in early 20th century Schenectady.[6]

2210 The Plaza, Schenectady (as of 2011). From Google Maps.
John and Mabel had one daughter, Sylvia Elizabeth, born 27 September 1913.[7] The family lived in rented homes in Schenectady until 1921,[8] when they bought their own house on The Plaza in Niskayuna; “No more rent. No more flats,” they commented.[9] The house, at 2210 The Plaza, was built the year they moved in, and still stands today.[10]
  
By April 1928, John had worked at G.E. for twenty-five years, joining the “Quarter Century Club.”[11] As of the 1940 census, John had no occupation listed, suggesting that he had retired from G.E. before then.[12] In the mid-1940s, John served as Deputy Town Clerk in Niskayuna.[13] 

In 1930, John and Mabel’s daughter Sylvia graduated from Schenectady High School.[14] In her high school yearbook, Sylvia was (self?) described as, “Sphere: Being quiet; Hope: To be able to wisecrack; Sin: Studying.” Despite her apparently quiet tendencies, that same yearbook listed her as a part of Glee Club, debating clubs, Le Cercle Fran├žais, and the National Honor Society.[15] She attended Syracuse University where she graduated with a degree in Library Science in 1934, and then returned home and began working at the Schenectady County Public Library.[16]

Sylvia joined the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1934,[17] and was regularly involved in DAR events in Schenectady over the years.[18] She was also active with other social groups and happenings around town. [19]

As a member of the library staff, Sylvia was a fixture in the community. She held discussions on recently published books.[20] She and others worked to answer many diverse questions from library patrons; for example: “Amount of the tuition to the University of Georgia. A student wanted to know how much money to take with him;” “the burying place of Benedict Arnold;” “the correct formation of the wedding procession;” and “dimensions of the court of the women in the temple of Herod.”[21]

Newspaper clipping showing Sylvia Blakeslee (possibly in the middle) at the Schenectady County Historical Society.
Sylvia was also involved with the Schenectady County Historical Society throughout the years.[22] One notable contribution was that, in a collaboration between the Schenectady County Public Library and the Historical Society, Sylvia cataloged the 1,400 volumes of the Historical Society library, which had never been cataloged. This required the classification of all of the books, numbering them according to the Dewey decimal system, and typing cards for a card catalog.[23]
  
On 7 February 1955, John Blakeslee died at age 76.[24] Less than two years later, on 20 October 1956, Mabel died, also at age 76.[25] Both were buried at Park View Cemetery, in Schenectady.[26] After her parents’ deaths, Sylvia, who was unmarried, remained living in the family home at 2210 The Plaza, and still worked at the library.[27]

Around 1959, Sylvia married Howard Rowback.[28] After they were married, Howard worked for the County Sheriff’s Office, Sylvia continued working for the library, and they lived at the Blakeslee house, 2210 The Plaza.[29] Howard died about ten years later, on 23 April 1968, and he was buried at Park View Cemetery, near Sylvia’s parents.[30]

Sylvia worked at the library until her retirement in 1971, after thirty-seven years of service – apparently “the longest service record of any staff member of the library.”[31]

In 2001, Sylvia sold the house at 2210 The Plaza, the home that her parents purchased eighty years earlier.[32] Around that time, she moved to Tinton Falls, New Jersey (a town where her cousin lived); she died there on 15 April 2008, at age 94, “after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.” No descendants were named in her obituary. She was buried back in Schenectady, in Park View Cemetery, near her parents and husband.[33]

Images from the Blakeslee's Happenings in our Home can be seen below:

This page documents the Blakeslees vacation to Green Lake near Gloversville. 
Thanksgiving 1918 included "Carnations from Mildred".



Sylvia "Betty" Blakeslee was a suffragette in the making, asking her mother why she doesn't get to vote when her father can.

Mabel Blakeslee documents many events throughout the 1910s including the United States joining the Allies during World War I.



All referenced websites were viewed 13 May 2019.
[1] John R. and Mabel (Shea) Blakeslee Family Notes, in Joseph C Bridgeman, Happenings in Our Home (Boston: Samuel Ward Company, 1903); Grems-Doolittle Library, Schenectady County Historical Society, Schenectady, New York, 2019. The book has pages with headings for recording events, milestones, etc. There is a handwritten note on the Introduction page, “This book is begun on Christmas night, 1909.” There are dated entries throughout the book, some in different inks or pencil, and occasionally in different handwritings; many entries may have been written at the time of or shortly after events happened. New York State Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate and Record of Marriage, no. 1101, John Roy Blakeslee and Mabel Mary Shea (1909); accessed in “New York, County Marriage Records, 1847-1849, 1907-1936,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/fsmarriagenewyork/).

[2] “U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/wwiidraft/), card for John R. Blakeslee, serial number U1573, Local Draft Board no. 354, Schenectady, New York; citing NARA, RG 147, roll 49. Also Blakeslee Family Notes, “Birthdays.”

[3] 1880 U.S. census, Washington County, New York, population schedule, Whitehall, enumeration district (ED) 158, page 20, dwelling 188, family 230, John R. Blakeslee; accessed in “1880 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1880usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T623, roll 943. 1892 New York state census, Washington Co., pop. sch., Town of Whitehall, p. 1 (penned), Roy Blakeslee; accessed in “New York, State Census, 1892,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1892nycensus/). 1900 U.S. census, Washington Co., New York, pop. sch., Village of Whitehall, ED 146, sheet 22A, dwell. 471, fam. 513, Roy Blakslee [Blakeslee]; accessed in “1900 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1900usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T623, roll unspecified. For parents’ deaths and Elizabeth’s maiden name, see Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com), memorial 61844621, Elizabeth Spooner Blakeslee (1938-1912), Boardman Cemetery, Whitehall, Washington Co., New York; gravestone photograph by Jen Snoots. Also, Blakeslee Family Notes, “The Life Immortal.”

[4] “Descendants Search,” database, Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogy Research (http://services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search/?Tab_ID=5), descendants list for member Sylvia Elizabeth Blakeslee. Blakeslee Family Notes, “Birthdays.” “Blakeslee Funeral to Be Private,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 22 October 1956, page number not shown, col. 2; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). 1880 U.S. census, Oswego Co., New York, pop. sch., Richland (Pulaski Village), ED 263, p.31, dwell. 10, fam. 10, Maybel Shea; accessed in “1880 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1880usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T9, roll 915. 1892 New York state census, Onondaga Co., pop. sch., Syracuse Ward 11, p. 4 (penned), Mabel M. Shea; accessed in “New York, State Census, 1892,” database with images, Ancestry https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1892nycensus/). 1900 U.S. census, Onondaga Co., New York, pop. sch., Syracuse Ward 18, ED 159, sheet 8B, dwell. 144, fam. 204, Mabel M. Shea; accessed in “1900 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1900usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T623, roll unspecified.

[5] Find A Grave, memorial 135754086, John W. Shea (1850-1925), and memorial 135754104, Sylvia Cross Shea (1853-1943), Onondaga Valley Cemetery, Syracuse, Onondaga Co., New York, gravestone photographs by Diane LM.

[6] Blakeslee Family Notes.

[7] Blakeslee Family Notes, “Births.” “New York State Birth Index - 1913,” images, InternetArchive (https://archive.org/details/New_York_State_Birth_Index_1913), p. 96, entry for Sylvia E Blakeslee, 27 September.

[8] 1910 U.S. census, Schenectady Co., New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 12, ED 218, sheet 8B, dwell. 121, fam. 186, John R. Blakeslee household; accessed in “1910 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/); citing NARA digital publication T624, roll 1078. 1920 U.S. census, Schenectady Co., New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 12, ED 181, sheet 5B, dwell. 65, fam. 123, John R. Blakeslee household; accessed in “1920 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1920usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T625, roll 1263.

[9] Blakeslee Family Notes, “Moving.” 1930 U.S. census, Schenectady Co., New York, pop. sch., Niskayuna town, ED 47-9, sheet 5A, dwell. 113, fam. 124, John R. Blakeslee household; accessed in “1930 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1930usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T626, roll unspecified. 1940 U.S. census, Schenectady Co., New York, pop. sch., Niskayuna, ED 47-18, sheet 12A, household 296, John R. Blakeslee household; accessed in “1940 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1940usfedcen/); citing NARA digital publication T627, roll 2774. The house number listed in the Blakeslee Family Notes and Records is “311 Plaza,” while later records refer to “2210 The Plaza;” there is no reason to suspect this is not the same house, homes on the street may have been renumbered.

[10] Schenectady County, New York, “Schenectady County Search,” database, Image Mate Online (http://imate.schenectadycounty.com/imate/), Public Access, “Report,” 2210 The Plaza.

[11] “10 Employees Join G. E. Quarter Century Club,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 21 April 1928, p. 10, col. 7; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[12] 1940 U.S. census, Schenectady Co., New York, pop. sch., Niskayuna, ED 47-18, sheet 12A, household 296, John R. Blakeslee.

[13] “Niskayuna Board Names Appointees,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 4 January 1946, unnumbered first page, “Second Section,” col. 7; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). “Niskayuna Town Board Sets Salaries,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 2 January 1947, unnumbered first page, “Second Section,” col. 7; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[14] “Schenectady Girl to Enter Syracuse Univ.,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 19 July 1930, p. 11, col. 7; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[15] Schenectady High School Yearbook 1930 [title page not shown], unnumbered page 29; database with digital images, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/yearbooksindex/), New York > Schenectady > Schenectady High School > 1930 > image 29.

[16] “Leaving Library,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 27 May 1971, p. 28, cols. 4-5; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[17] “Member Search,” database, Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogy Research (http://services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search/?Tab_ID=3), entry for member Sylvia Elizabeth Blakeslee Rowback, no. 288238.

[18] For example, “D.A.R. Chapter Has First Season Meeting,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 18 September 1937, p. 17, cols. 3-5; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). “Missionary Tells Experiences on Zamzam to D.A.R Members,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 19 September 1941, p. 25, cols. 6-8; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). “DAR Chapter Plans to Meet on Thursday,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 13 October 1959, p. 25, col. 5; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[19] “Festival of Nations,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 18 February 1936, p. 13, col. 1; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[20] “Collegiate Center Unit To Hear Talk on Books,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 14 January 1937, p. 10, col. 6; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[21] “Public Library Handles Varied Class of Wants,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 4 August 1936, p. 4, col. 3; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[22] “Social Notes,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 30 September 1972, p. 12, col. 3; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). Sylvia E. Rowback, Niskayuna, Death Notice, The (Schenectady, NY) Daily Gazette, 17 April 2008, p. B7; transcript accessed at America’s News, NewsBank (https://infoweb.newsbank.com/).

[23] “1,400 Historical Volumes Listed,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 27 October 1938, p. 12, col. 5; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[24] “New York, Death Index, 1852-1956,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/nystatedeathindex/), entry for John R. Blakeslee, died 7 February 1955. Death Notices: Blakeslee, Schenectady (New York) Gazette, month and date unknown, 1955, p. 27, col. 7; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[25] “New York, Death Index, 1852-1956,” entry for Mabel M. Blakeslee, died 20 October 1956. “Blakeslee Funeral to Be Private,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 22 October 1956, page number not shown, col. 3; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/).

[26] Find A Grave, memorial 166123199, John R Blakeslee (died 7 February 1955), and memorial 166123200, Mable Blakeslee (died 23 Oct 1956), Park View Cemetery, Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, Section D Lot 191; no gravestone photographs.

[27] Manning, Schenectady City including Grand Boulevard District of Niskayuna (New York) Directory For Year Beginning September, 1957-1958 (Schenectady: H. A. Manninng Co. of N.Y. Inc., 1957), p. 290.

[28] Manning, Schenectady City including Grand Boulevard District of Niskayuna Directory, 1959-1960, pp. 286 (Blakeslee), 651 (Rowback). In this directory, Sylvia was listed as both “Sylvia E Blakeslee” and as “Sylvia B Rowback (Mrs. Howard).”

[29] Manning, Schenectady City including Grand Boulevard District of Niskayuna Directory, 1961-1962, p. 618.

[30] Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014,” database, Ancestry, (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/ssdi/), entry for Howard Rowback, 1968, SS no. 076-03-7745. “Rowback Dies at 69, Was Deputy,” Schenectady (New York) Gazette, 25 April 1968, p. 33, col. 2; accessed in “Go and Search My Archives,” searchable images, Old Fulton New York Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/). Find A Grave, memorial 166296084, Howard Rowback (died 25 April 1968), Park View Cemetery, Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, Section D Lot 191; no gravestone photograph.

[31] “Leaving Library.”

[32] “Schenectady County Search,”; Public Access, “Report,” 2210 The Plaza.

[33] Sylvia E. Rowback, Niskayuna, Death Notice. Find A Grave, memorial 166296717, Sylvia E Rowback (died 15 April 2008), Park View Cemetery, Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, Section D Lot 191; no gravestone photograph.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Spring Projects at the Grems-Doolittle Library & Archives

One of our spring projects at the Grems-Doolittle Library and Archives has been a "re-inventory" of our archival collections. A previous inventory has been done, but we have new collections and have moved things around, so a new inventory is needed to document these changes. We have other goals for this project as well which include getting a better sense of the material we have, finding out how our collections have been organized, and checking to see if each collection has a catalog record in our collection management software. An added benefit of this project is that we can check on the condition of our collections and see if there are any pressing preservation or conservation issues that they are facing. We have around 200 linear feet of archival material in our collection which includes our historic manuscript collection that has documents dating as early as 1670.

Like any occupation, archivists have their own glossary of work-related terminology (see: The Society of American Archivists Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology). The terms processing, arranging and describing will be an important part of this inventory project.

Collections are donated to us in a variety of different levels of organization, some have been meticulously organized, other may have been haphazardly thrown into boxes. Processing gives order to these collections by arranging and describing them. Our collections are also rehoused using acid-free folders and boxes. Acid is inherent in wood pulp paper and can cause some serious damage to paper, so it's important to use acid-free materials when we are rehousing collections.

By arranging our collections we are giving them order. One of our main goals as archivists is to arrange the collection as close to the how the collection was originally used by the creator of the records, which is known as original order. This can be difficult as we sometimes have to make some assumptions about how the collections were organized. We also might receive a collection in complete disarray and have to try and restore its original order. In the case of organizational records, we have to examine the collection to see what types of records are included and we have to try and think like the organization. Would they mix their financial records with their meeting minutes and annual reports? Probably not, so we create series of records and separate them according to their how they were used by the organization or individual.

When we describe our collections, we are analyzing and recording details about the collection including the size of the collection, the creator, the history of the organization. The result of our description work is best seen in finding aids. One important aspect of a finding aid is the scope and content note which can help our researchers decide if a certain collection is relevant to their research. It will usually be a narrative statement that gives an overview of the types of material in the collection, significant topics or people in the collection and other relevant information. A finding aid will also usually include a container list that describes the folders in each box. The guide to the Abruzzese Society Collection is a good example of how we describe and arrange our collections.

We have already rediscovered some interesting items including a scrapbook from a service member who served during World War II and a Schenectady High School students hollowed out wooden book which was only holding a bible, photograph and letter, but who knows what it held before it came to us. Photos of these items can be seen at the end of this post.

This will be quite a project but it will be important for us to get a better idea of what our collection needs are. It will also help us in accurately locating and documenting our collections in our collection management system and it will reacquaint us with some of the interesting items that may have been overlooked.


Albert Halavin's World War II Scrapbook:

Staff Sergeant Albert Halavin posing in front of his vehicle.

Map of the Command Post


Fake Book:





Thursday, May 2, 2019

Fayette W. Clifford World War II Collection

A new finding aid for the Fayette W. Clifford World War II Collection was created by volunteer Angela Matyi. Check it out below:

Guide to the Fayette W. Clifford World War II Collection
Fayette W. Clifford posing with a primate.

Domain of the Golden Dragon certificate given to Fayette W. Clifford. This certificate was an unofficial United States Navy award. It is given to crew members of ships which cross the International Date Line. 

Creator: Clifford, Fayette W., 1917 – 1984

Accession Number: 2019.18

Extent: 0.42 linear feet (1 full-size document box containing 20 folders)

Source: Military belongings of Fayette W. Clifford of Schenectady

Inclusive Dates: 1943 – 1960

Bulk Dates: 1944 - 1946

Access: Access to materials in this collection is unrestricted.

Abstract: The Fayette W. Clifford World War II collection consists materials from the military career of Fayette W. Clifford.

Catalog Terms:
Clifford, Fayette W., 1917 – 1984
Clifford, Fayette, 1917 – 1984
World War II

Scope and Content Note:
The Fayette W. Clifford World War II collection consists largely of small- and medium-sized photographs taken during Clifford’s military service in the Philippines.  Additional items include typed letters, citations and certificates; newspaper clippings; army publications; handwritten manuscript pages; and a few small artifacts.  The collection also includes an assortment of military patches and pins, but because these are in the care of the Schenectady County Historical Society museum rather than the archives they are not included in this finding aid.


Biographical Note:
Fayette W. Clifford was born in 1917 in Schenectady, NY to John V. Clifford and his wife Annette E. Clifford.  After graduating from Nott Terrace High School he found employment as a production clerk for General Electric.  In September of 1943 he joined the service and began basic training at Camp Blanding, FL, as a Private First Class in the 126th Regiment of the famed 32nd Infantry Division.

The “Red Arrow” Division, as it was popularly known, was first formed in 1917 from Army National Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan.  It gained distinction during World War I when it became the first Allied division to pierce the German Hindenburg Line of defense.  The division later adopted a shoulder patch with the image of a line shot through with a red arrow to signify their tenacity in that endeavor.

During World War II, the 32nd Infantry was deployed to the Pacific theater.  It became the first American division to be moved in a single convoy from the United States to the front lines in April 1942, and was among the very first to enter combat.  General MacArthur ordered parts of the 32nd Infantry to Papua New Guinea in September 1942 in response to Allied fears of a Japanese invasion of Australia.  From November 1942 to January 1943 they engaged the Japanese in eastern New Guinea in the Battle of Buna-Gona.  Although the battle was technically an Allied victory, the reliance on ill-informed, deficient intelligence and poor logistics made it an extremely costly one.  The 32nd Infantry Division, already weakened by an extremely difficult 130-mile march on the harsh Kapa Kapa Trail, was decimated both by the brutal battle and by tropical diseases; the 126th regiment was the hardest hit. 

In March 1943 the 32nd Infantry returned to Australia for recovery and to begin training replacements.  Clifford would have come into the service as one of these replacements in March 1944, specifically as a regimental personnel clerk.  The 32nd Infantry was redeployed to Papua New Guinea in October 1943, where it continued training.  Starting in January 1944 it took part in Operation Cartwheel, MacArthur’s “leap-frog” plan to take strategic points for use as forward bases, and the Western New Guinea campaign.  Clifford served specifically in the latter, engaging in combat at the Landing of Aitape (part of Operation Persecution), a battle which lasted from late April until late August 1944. 

He served in the following Battle of Morotai, (starting in September 1944) until the 32nd Infantry’s command division opened at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea in October, setting the stage for the Allied advance into the Japanese-occupied Philippines.  Clifford then took part in the Battle of Leyte, codenamed “King Two,” the invasion of the Philippines by American and Filipino guerilla forces for the recapture and liberation of the entire archipelago.  The campaign for Leyte, which lasted from October to December 1944, proved to be the first and most decisive operation in the American Philippines campaign (1944 – 1945). 

The 32nd Infantry moved on to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in January 1945, fighting up the Villa Verde Trail for 119 days and taking Imugan as part of the Battle of Luzon.  In May it met up with the 25th Infantry Division and took the Balete pass, though whether Clifford was part of this force or part of the division elements that stayed in Imugan as part of the mopping-up efforts is unclear.  Regardless, for his exemplary conduct under fire during Luzon Clifford was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge. 

After being discharged in January 1946 following the close of the war, Clifford was also awarded the Bronze Star in April of that same year in recognition of his twenty-two months of service.  His additional commendations include: the Good Conduct Metal, the American Campaign Medal (referred to as the “ATO ribbon,” presumably for “American. Theater of Operations”) with three battle stars, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (awarded to the entire 32nd division), the Distinguished Unit Citation (also awarded to the entire division, for its service in Papua New Guinea), the World War II Victory Medal (referred to in the 1940s as the “Victory Ribbon”).

Fayette W. Clifford married Frances Gifford in 1949, and passed away in 1984.


Organization Note:
The photographs in this collection are divided by size and subject.  The photograph sizes are split between small, medium, and medium-large.  Small photographs are those which are defined as “wallet-sized,” measuring 2.5 x 3 inches, 2.5 x 1.75 inches, or 2.625 x 2.625 inches.  Medium photographs are those which are slightly larger and may or may not be considered “wallet-sized,” measuring 3 x 3 inches or 3.125 x 4 inches.  Medium-large photographs are of various sizes (standard, somewhat smaller than standard, and larger than standard), but none can be considered “wallet-sized”; they measure 3.25 x 4.5 inches or 4 x 6 inches.


Finding Aid Created By/Date: Angela Matyi, March 2019


Folder Item/Listing:

Folder
Item Title
1
Photographs – Individuals: American (Small)
2
Photographs – Individuals: Filipino, Japanese (Small)
3
Photographs – Pairs and Groups (Small)
4
Photographs – Landscapes and Buildings (Small)
5
Photographs – Individuals (Medium)
6
Photographs – Pairs and Groups (Medium)
7
Photographs – Landscapes and Buildings (Medium)
8
Photographs – Individuals (Medium-Large)
9
Photographs – Pairs and Groups (Medium-Large)
10
Photographs – Landscapes and Buildings (Medium-Large)
11
Photographs – Album Pages
12
Manuscript Pages
13
Newspaper Clippings (1944 – 1946)
14
Army Correspondence (May 1944 – Oct. 1945)
15
Letters of Thanks
16
Citations, Certificates (Undated; 1944 – 1960)
17
Military News (Oct. 1945; Undated)
18
“Combat History of the 32d Inf Division”
19
Artifacts – Pocket Bible; Japanese Business Card
20
Photographs – Duplicates