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James Ward Smith Correspondence


Held at: Princeton University Library: University Archives [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: University Archives. 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


James Ward Smith enrolled at Princeton University in 1934, first graduating with the Class of 1938 before proceeding with graduate studies in Princeton's Department of Philosophy. Following his military service during WWII, Smith returned to Princeton to begin a long career as Professor of Philosophy. He passed away in 1999.

Smith was called to active duty in the US Navy in 1942 and would remain in service until his discharge in 1946. One of his prime roles consisted of being a "beachmaster" in the Pacific theater, in which he helped to direct numerous amphibious landings. This notably included the landing at the island of Luzon, during which he personally advised Gen. MacArthur to refrain from coming ashore. The famous photograph of Gen. MacArthur's return to the Philippines would be taken only 36 hours after this encounter.

The collection is comprised of letters written by James Ward Smith, Class of 1938, to his parents from September, 1934, when Smith entered Princeton, to his discharge from the Navy in 1946. The letters cover his time as a Princeton undergraduate and graduate student in the Philosophy Department, as well as his Naval career. Smith's writing reflects much on his academics, campus life amidst the backdrop of the Great Depression, and Naval service, often blurring the boundaries between these categories.

The collection was donated by Maurice Lee, Jr. '46 in 2014 (AR.2014.032).

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This finding aid was written by Quin DeLaRosa in 2022. Prior processing was conducted for this collection by a student worker.

No materials were removed from the collection during processing.

University Archives
Finding Aid Author
Quin DeLaRosa
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Correspondence, 1934-1938.
Correspondence, 1938-1942.
Correspondence, 1942-1945.
Correspondence, 1944-1946.

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