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H. M. Plowman diaries and journals


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

America entered World War II after the December 7, 1941 attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. On December 11th, Germany declared war on the United States. The British and the Soviety Union entered into an alliance with the United States to defeat Hitler’s army. The war abroad led to the recruitment of many young men like Plowman who served and witnessed much of the devastation in Europe.

H. M. Plowman was a resident of Reading, Pennsylvania. He assisted and visited family and friends, and, in the evenings, attended movie theatres. He studied photography, but it is not known where. Plowman was drafted in 1944 and served in France and Britain with the 50th Troop Carrier Squadron, Army Air Corps. He returned to the U.S. in 1945 at the close of the war. What happened to him after that is unknown.

This collection consists of ten volumes of Plowman’s daily notations of his experiences in Reading, Pennsylvania and abroad while serving in World War II. The diaries begin in 1940 discussing mostly his visits with family members and friends. Plowman sometimes added the major headlines about the war abroad from local newspapers. Once the Americans were directly involved (Volume II), the war headlines increased.

He was drafted in 1944 (Volume VIII), after which the volumes give a play-by-play account of the war from a soldier’s point of view, as Volume VIII was appropriately titled, “My Life in the Service.” Since Plowman did not see combat, his version of the war is mostly a behind-the-scenes look at soldiers’ lives in the barracks and while off duty. There are two instances in which he describes missions escorting prisoners. Most of the entries concern food in the mess hall and touring the cities in which he was based. There are also references to the fact that he was a photographer. The final pages of the last volume (1945) indicate that Plowman was more and more restless with being in England, as he complained, “This place is sure getting on my nerves.” He boarded the USS Woolsey on Thursday, October 25, 1945, but it did not “pull away from the docks” until October 27. The volume ends with a day-by-day account of their two-week voyage back to the United States; the ship arrived in the New York Harbor Friday, November 9, 1945.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Weckea D. Lilly.
Finding Aid Date
; 2012.
Use Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Diary, (1940).
Volume Volume I
Diary, (1941).
Volume Volume II
Notebook: "Theory Class Notes", (1941).
Volume Volume III
Notebook: "Book No. 2: Important War News", (1941 - 1942).
Volume Volume IV
Notebook: "Important News Day by Day: Book No. III", (1942).
Volume Volume V
Notebook: "News of the Day", (1942 - 1943).
Volume Volume VI
Diary, (1942).
Volume Volume VII
Notebook: "1943 War News Continued", (1943).
Volume Volume VIII
Daily Calendar Pad: "This Diary Cont. from 'My Life in the Service'", (1944 - 1945).
Volume Volume IX
Diary: "Cont. from Daily Calendar Pad #4", (1945).
Volume Volume X
Items removed from Volume I, (1940).
Box Folder Folder I
Items removed from Volume II, (1941).
Box Folder Folder II
Items removed from Volume IV, (1941 - 1942).
Box Folder Folder III
Items removed from Volume VII, (1942).
Box Folder Folder IV
Items removed from Volume VIII, (1943).
Box Folder Folder V
Items removed from Volume IX, (1944 - 1945).
Box Folder Folder VI

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