Main content

Alonia Ford World War II U.S. Navy photograph album


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Alonia Ford was born on December 28, 1924 to Bud and Willie Mae Ford in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Ford enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 29, 1942 after the U.S. Navy opened its ranks to Blacks on June 1, 1942. Ford was immediately sent to the Seventh Regiment, Camp Robert Smalls at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois for basic training. He may have attended the Hampton Institute Naval Training Program. This Class A Naval Service School provided advanced training in various technical trades to Black American sailors. Upon completion of this 16-week program, the sailors obtained the rank of petty officer in the specialty in which they had been trained. In March 1943, Ford was stationed in Bremerton, Washington as part of the Local Defense and District Craft of the 13th Naval District, where he served as a motor machinist's mate. Afterwards, he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands and Shanghai, China, where he met his first wife, Char 'Alice' Lu/Loh (1930-1995), whom he married in 1947. They had two children, Robert Ronald and Diana Ming Lu/Loh. Ford and Alice divorced in April 1976 and he married Francisca Ayala later that same year. He continued to serve in the Navy as of 1963.

Resources: Ancestry and the National Archives and Records Administration

The photographs and postcards chronicle Ford's early service in the United States Navy, and include official Navy photographs, such as personnel portraits and images of military vessels. There are also candid photos of Ford along with fellow service men on naval bases in Bremerton, Washington and the Aleutian Islands. Other photographs are more personal and include friends and family. There are two photographs of a woman that are inscribed, "To Hubby; Love, Ann" and "Your Wife." However, no legal documents were found confirming this marriage.

Postcards affixed in the album depict buildings on the campus of Hampton Institute, many of which are captioned "Girls dormitories," landscape views of Washington State and the Aleutian Islands. Also included in the album is a NAACP membership card for Ford dated November 1944, and 13 handwritten notes from fellow servicemen. These notes include home addresses and short notes of memories or inside jokes.

This brown leather album with "Photo-Log U.S. Navy" embossed on the front cover, features a image of battleships at sea. This album contains 116 images, including original silver gelatin print photographs and postcards. It also includes "autographs" of fellow service members. The photographs were approximately taken between 1942 and 1944 and placed in the album by Alonia Ford. Most of the photographs and postcards are affixed to the album pages with photo corners. Some of the photos and postcards have descriptive captions. There are a number of blank pages, as well as photo corners missing photos.

Sold by Max Rambod, 2022.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kristine McGee
Finding Aid Date
2022 August 22
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

Request to View Materials

Materials can be requested by first logging in to Aeon. Then, click on the ADD button next to any containers you wish to request. When complete, click the Request button.

Request item to view
"Photo-Log, U.S. Navy," photograph album, circa 1942-1944.
Box 1

Print, Suggest