Battle of Manila

Today, February 23rd 2011, is the 66th anniversary of Joseph Rosenthal’s famous Pulitzer Prize winning photograph depicting Marines raising of the United States flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. That same day—1,500 miles to the southwest—also marked the last day of a major artillery barrage of the Intramuros, the 16th century walled fortress of the city of Manila.

Fought between 3 February and 3 March 1945, the Battle of Manila ended three years of Japanese occupation. After February 23rd, United States forces engaged the Japanese in their remaining strongholds near the Intramuros, including the towering City Hall and the massively constructed Legislative Building. Hugh Morton, as a member of the 161st Signal Photographic Company, photographed both buildings sometime after the Japanese defeat.

The scenes above were not identified by Morton as being in Manila, but a bit of Googling and digging in other resources uncovered their location. It is likely that the images below are also from Manila, as the architecture is fitting with the descriptions of the buildings in that area of the city.  Also, the frame numbers on the edge of the film—8 and 12—serve as possible bookends to frame number 9 on the image below. (Of course, they could be from separate rolls of film, so the numbers are not conclusive in and of themselves).

The image below (frame 1) shows Morton descending stairs in front heavily damaged columns.

The location of the scene below of a soldier standing guard behind a colonnade (frame 4) is also unknown.

There’s several more photographs from Morton’s tour of duty in the Pacific islands; some remain unidentified, while others may be misidentified—such as a photograph of the “Pick-Up Cafe” building at 1437 Rizal Avenue that Morton had in an envelope labeled “Noumea, New Caledonia.” As far as Google Maps can tell me, there is no Rizal Avenue in Noumea, but there is a major street by that name in Manila.

There are enough clues in the image that someone with some time and access to research tools such Manila city directories or census data (if not destroyed in the war!) might help resolve. So give them all a look . . . and if you try your hand at sleuthing and have some success, please share your findings with us in the comment section!

Flag Day in Canada

Today is National Flag Day for our neighbors to the north (no, not Virginia). On 15 February 1965, Canada unfurled its new Maple Leaf flag, replacing the unofficially official Canadian Red Ensign. Sometime during wartime in the 1940s, Hugh Morton made his way to the Canada–United States border and (surprise!) stopped to make a photograph or two. In the picture above, an unidentified fellow stands in front of the border crossing. Above the building is a distinctive “Welcome to Canada in Wartime” sign displaying the British Empire’s Royal Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack), which was Canada’s official flag until 1946.  The Royal Union Flag served as the canton (upper left corner) of all the variations of Canada’s Red Ensign flags.

The license plate on the car to the left is unfortunately out of focus just enough to prevent reading any details that might yield what year Morton made the photograph, but it likely predates 1946.

All nine series now available!

It’s been a while since I announced an update to the finding aid for the Hugh Morton collection . . . but that’s because I’ve been saving up until I could reveal ALL of the remaining series at once. (Not intentionally, actually — it just kind of worked out that way). So yes, this means that almost all* of the Morton collection is now open and available for research!

Of greatest interest to many will be the Sports Series (series 6), which contains the absolute gold mine that is Hugh Morton’s UNC basketball photography. Morton took an amazing 30,000 photographs of UNC basketball, dating from the beginning of his time as a UNC undergrad in 1939 through the early 2000s (see left). We worked hard and very carefully to process this portion of the collection, knowing how popular these would be. Along the way, we digitized about 1300 of them, which (in case you need a reminder) are available online in the Hugh Morton digital collection. (Big props to our volunteer Jack Hilliard, who did the vast majority of the description/identification for these — talk about a “citizen archivist“!).

But let’s not overlook the other sports (football, golf, and hang gliding, to name a few), or series 7 through 9 — World War II (7);  Places, Non-North Carolina and Unidentified (8); and Documents & Objects (9). Go to the newly updated finding aid for detailed descriptions of these materials.

*Yes, unfortunately, we’re not quite done yet. There’s still a good deal of cleaning up left to do, inserting stray items into series, adding the film, video, and audio materials, the oversize prints, etc. Not at all helpful is the fact that as I was doing a “victory lap” around the stacks the other day, I came upon a previously overlooked (and quite large) box of negatives — a tangled mess of hundreds of rolls of film, representing lots of different subjects and time periods. SIGH. Wish me luck.

An infamous day…campus prepares for war

Note from Elizabeth: We hope you enjoy another post from JACK HILLIARD, in honor of Sunday’s 68th anniversary of the commissioning of the U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School at UNC-Chapel Hill on May 23, 1942. (For more information on this topic, see Janis Holder’s Worth 1,000 Words essay).

Regarding photos of the Pre-Flight School, please see the NCC Photo Archives Pre-Flight School Collection (a few photos from which appear in this post). You’ll note that photographer(s) for this collection are not known. Could one of them have been Hugh Morton? It seems possible, as Pre-Flight School photos in the Morton Collection are scarce, and at least some Pre-Flight photos have been credited to him (e.g., in this pamphlet).

December 7, 1941: many readers across central North Carolina turned directly to the sports pages when their Sunday edition of the Greensboro Daily News arrived on that cold morning. The lead story was the annual high school all-state football team, and leading the team was a 17-year-old junior from Asheville’s Lee Edwards High named Charlie Justice. High school football was huge in North Carolina, but professional football wasn’t, yet. Even so, on the back page of the sports section was a mention of the Washington Redskins playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of the NFL season, and Redskins owner George Preston Marshall would once again stage a spectacular halftime Christmas show.

This Christmas game always filled old Griffith Stadium with families, politicians, and military personnel from the District and northern Virginia. Seated high up in the press box were Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich and Associated Press reporter Pat O’Brien. Shortly before the 2 PM kickoff, O’Brien received a puzzling-three-word telegram from his editor downtown — it said, simply, “Keep It Short.” About that same time, the public address announcer began a series of announcements: “Admiral W.H.P. Bland is asked to report to his office at once.” “Captain R.X. Fenn of the United States Army is asked to report to his office.” The announcements continued . . . Joseph Umglumph of the FBI,  Joaquim Eilzalde, resident commissioner of the Philippines . . . Secretary Stimson and Secretary Knox call the White House. A second telegram arrived at O’Brien’s desk. This one solved the puzzle: “The Japanese have kicked off. War Now!” At 2:26 PM, the Mutual Broadcasting System interrupted the radio broadcast of the game with a bulletin telling of a Pearl Harbor attack. The world would never be the same.

Back in Chapel Hill, UNC Sophomore Hugh Morton, who had recently won the “Carolina Intercampus Council” award, stood ready to document a campus preparing for war (however, his formal education would be interrupted a year later when he joined the Army).

Even before the Pearl Harbor attack, UNC President Frank Porter Graham had offered the University’s help in the event of war. In 1940 Graham said the University would offer “all its resources to the nation for the defense of the freedom and democracy it was founded to serve.”

Graham’s first priority was to lobby for a Navy Pre-Flight Training School on the Chapel Hill campus. It would be one of four such schools nationwide that prepared future pilots for aerial combat. With the help of alumnus, newspaper editor, and former Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, UNC became one of the four. The Navy announcement came in February, 1942 and on May 23, 1942 the official commissioning was held in Kenan Stadium with Daniels delivering the keynote address — 68 years ago this Sunday.

The University renovated ten dorms, expanded Woollen Gym, and built a new infirmary, recreation center and athletic field. Alexander Hall became administrative headquarters. The Pre-Flight School had its own weekly newspaper called “The Cloud Buster,” and Orville Campbell was the associate editor.

On May 28th, the first group of 242 cadets arrived on campus. Every two weeks, 300 more would arrive until a quota of 1,875 was reached. The cadets ranged in age from 18 to 27 and each cadet received $75 per month. The training day was from 5:30 AM until 6:15 PM 6 days a week, and consisted of two hours of strenuous physical activity, two hours of classroom work in Caldwell Hall, and athletic training in swimming, basketball, football and boxing.

There was some free time, and entertainers like Ronald Reagan, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra with Helen O’Connell, and Kate Smith came to the campus to entertain.

The athletic talent at the Pre-Flight School was outstanding. The baseball team featured the legendary Ted Williams, and defeated Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees in July 1943.

Kenan Stadium became home to the Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football team. In April 1942, there was a young Ensign physical fitness instructor named Gerald R. Ford. Thirty two years later he would become the 38th President of the United States. Another future President came through the program as well. His name: George H.W Bush.

On November 5, 1944 The Cloudbusters hosted The Commodores from Bainbridge (Maryland) Naval Training Station. Coaching on the sideline that day for the Cloudbusters was a young Lieutenant named Paul W. Bryant. He would lead the University of Alabama to six national titles during the 1960s and 1970s, and would be known as “Bear” Bryant. Leading the Cloudbusters at quarterback was Otto Graham who would lead the Cleveland Browns to 7 pro championships in the 1940s and 1950s, and leading the Commodores was a 20-year-old from Asheville, NC. Two years later he would return to Kenan and during the years 1946 to 1949 would rewrite the UNC record books. His name: Charlie Justice.

When the War ended, the campus returned to normal. The US Navy Pre-Flight School at Chapel Hill was decommissioned on October 15, 1945. Some of those Pre-Flight buildings still stand and remind passersby that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adapted to serve the country during its “most critical crisis.”

–Jack Hilliard

New series available, plus a semi-fun photo-related activity

Imagine my excitement when I went to the cnn.com homepage a few weeks ago and saw an article entitled “Connecting the past to the present tougher than it looks.” This is a story from CNN’s iReport feature, where they “outsource” their reporting to regular folks — CNN assigned their iReporters to try their hand at a neat, low-tech photography technique that involves lining up historic photos with the same current-day scene. (There’s a great Flickr group devoted to this practice, called “Looking Into the Past” — however, some of these people are obviously cheating with Photoshop).

Let me back up for a minute to make two BIG behind-the-scenes announcements: 1) the Grandfather Mountain and UNC-Chapel Hill series (Series 4 and 5) of the Morton collection are now available online and open for research; and 2) the digital collection has reached (and rocketed past) 5,000 items.

In honor of these developments (particularly the availability of the UNC-CH photos), Sam and I decided to try our hand at the “lining-up” trick, right here on campus: we printed out a few of Hugh Morton’s photos from when he was a student here (1939-1942), and went out with the digital camera. As you can see from the results below, it is indeed “tougher than it looks”! (Especially when it’s windy outside).

Here we are attempting to situate a Morton photo of a group of unidentified gentlemen (UNC faculty?) standing on the front steps of Wilson Library (view the original here). Close, but no cigar. . . finding the exact right spot and angle to successfully line up the print with the real world is quite difficult, and you also look and feel ridiculous as you fumble around for that perfect perspective.

Equally poorly-aligned is this portrait of a wild group of hooligans posing on the steps of South Building. If anyone knows what’s going on here, please fill us in… the original can be viewed in much greater detail here. (I assume this gathering is World War II-related, because one of said hooligans is holding a button that reads “To Hell with Hitler”).

We did a little better, but not much, with this Morton portrait of 1941-1942 UNC senior Frances Bonkemeyer, publicity chair for the YWCA and member of the UNC Coed Senate (see the original here).

So to sum up, let me first reiterate that Series 4 (Grandfather Mountain) and Series 5 (UNC-Chapel Hill) are now included in the online finding aid and available for research! And, the Hugh Morton digital collection contains more than 5,400 items!

We hope our little exercise inspires you to try “linking the past with the present” using historic photos. Send us your results if you do.

New essay, new look

eleanor_thumbFirst and foremost, we’re thrilled to announce the availability of the second essay in our Worth 1,000 Words series: it’s by former University Archivist Janis Holder and is entitled Covering the Beat: The University in the WWII Era. Please read, enjoy, share, and comment!

Secondly, you may have noticed that “A View to Hugh” has gotten a bit of a makeover! We’ve upgraded to a new “theme” in WordPress, but tried to maintain much of the original look, feel and functionality. The most pressing reason for this upgrade was to better accommodate our essays, which you will see now occupy their own section of the V2H website. The essays are now posted as their own pages, rather than as traditional posts.

For those of you who might be missing the old V2H look, you should also know that our original WordPress theme was “orphaned” and had become out-of-date and cumbersome to use. Our new theme is sleeker, much more functional, and allows for larger images and neat widgets like the new Digital Collection RSS feed in the right sidebar, which allows you to peruse recent additions to the ever-expanding Hugh Morton Digital Collection. It was time for a change, and we hope you find it one for the better.

Remembering WW2, part 2

It’s Memorial Day again on Monday, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight more of the remarkable images Hugh Morton brought back with him from his World War II service in the Pacific Islands, as a member of the 161st Signal Photography Corps (see my first WW2 post for background).

We recently scanned a batch of about 100 WW2 prints for inclusion in the Morton digital library we’re currently developing. These images are truly unlike anything else in the Morton collection — they include not only soldier portraits and combat scenes, but also some stunning views of Pacific Island people, culture, and scenery.

As with most of the Morton collection, I only wish we had better documentation! Details are maddeningly scarce.

Thankfully, there is ONE labeled photograph which allows us to identify some of Morton’s fellow enlistees, though where or when these were taken, I can’t say. Shown below enjoying some Schlitz, from left to right, are Henry van Baalen, Hugh Morton (with cat), (woman unidentified), “Lt. Shepherd” (sitting), Steve Leakos (standing), Pat Boyd, Eddie Seliady, and Frank Ilc (sp?). Maybe someone out there Googling for their relatives will find this and make a meaningful discovery?

Aloha Kalikimaka

Beach with lighthouse, Hawaii, 1978

After making it through a rather blustery November, I’m reminded of when I boldly decided to escape the cold Sierra Nevada Mountains and relax on the black sand beaches of Hawaii. The Mortons had the same brilliant idea over Christmas 1978, when they took a trip to the islands of Oahu and Kauai. There are stunning pictures of double rainbows over a misty Honolulu, the USS Arizona Memorial, and surfing crystal turquoise waters.

While in Hawaii, Morton visited the grave of Ernest Taylor Pyle at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Ernie Pyle was a journalist in both world wars, stationed in the Pacific Theater during WWII.  I’m guessing that their paths must have crossed during that time? I haven’t been able to find a connection, but if anyone can confirm this it would be appreciated.

Fern Grotto, Wailua River State Park, Hawaii, 1978
The photo above I found floating loose at the bottom of a box, one of the many orphans I have had to match to its roll. Once I found the Hawaii batch, I was able to easily recognize where it belonged. It shows the Fern Grotto in Wailua River State Park on Kauai — this is a large lava cave that ferns took over, growing on every surface. I’m not certain if Hugh had pulled this from the rest of the roll for a presentation, or because he felt it wasn’t up to par. (His “rejects” usually look pretty great to me).

Hang gliding, Hawaii, 1978

In the late 70s and early 80s, Hugh took numerous photos of hang gliding, mostly at Grandfather (the home of the National Hang Gliding Championship for a few years).  The comments we received on a previous post tell the exciting story behind one of the hang gliding photos from Hawaii, which shows Morton himself taking flight! The image above was one that was able to capture the beautiful waters, and the contrast between the white sands and dark coral reefs.

Maybe it’s the temps in the 20s forecast for Chapel Hill, or the thought of a Mai Tai, but Hawaii is definitely calling for me to visit again soon.  Right, Elizabeth?

Editorial Note from Elizabeth: I thought it was pretty funny when Amber said she wanted to write this post, because I am actually off to Hawaii myself next week! I’ll be doing, um, highly serious and intensive Morton-related research. No relaxing whatsoever. (Do you think the IRS will buy that?)

Remembering WW2

Memorial Day seems a most appropriate occasion to highlight some of the images documenting Hugh Morton’s World War II experiences. The broad strokes of the story are well known: aware that he would end up in the military and hoping to receive an assignment in photography, Morton enlisted in October 1942 and was first posted at the U.S. Army Anti-Aircraft School at Camp Davis, taking pictures for training manuals.

When he was sent to New Caledonia to report to the 161st Army Signal Corps Photo Company, he was surprised when his captain looked at him and said, “Morton, you look like a movie man.” (This was the first time he picked up a movie camera, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last—future blog posts will explore some of Morton’s later adventures in filmmaking). Since his wartime film footage went directly to the Army, we don’t have any of it in the collection here at UNC—but we do have a small number of still images taken by and of Morton during these eventful years.

Here’s Morton, in a photo by an unknown photographer, with his movie camera atop a B-24, the “Go Gettin’ Gal“:

Hugh Morton with movie camera atop plane “Go Gettin’ Gal,” World War II, early 1940s

In 1944 Morton obtained an enjoyable assignment covering Bob Hope, Frances Langford, and Jerry Colonna as they entertained the troops at New Caledonia. In the booklet Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described these as “three of the happiest days of my life…I rode in the same car with Bob and Jerry…during which they were cracking jokes and practicing their lines. It was a fun time.”

Frances Langford and Bob Hope entertaining military personnel in New Caledonia, 1944 [cropped]

From there, he was sent briefly to Guadalcanal and Bougainville, which may be when the following images were snapped (the first is by Morton; the second shows Morton with his camera and a group of Pacific island children, taken by an unknown photographer):

Man climbing palm tree in the Pacific islands, possibly Bougainville, during World War II (early 1940s)

Hugh Morton showing his movie camera to some Pacific island children, possibly at Bougainville, during World War II (early 1940s)

Morton then got his most intense assignment when he was sent to photograph the 25th Infantry Division as they invaded Luzon, in the Philippines, in early 1945. He obtained a few still shots of combat, and covered General Douglas MacArthur when he came to Luzon to inspect the 25th Division:

General Douglas MacArthur conferring with field officers, Luzon, Philippines, January 1945

Shortly after MacArthur’s visit, Morton was wounded in an explosion—an incident for which he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, with citation, for exposing himself to danger in order to obtain high-quality, closeup images of the front lines. Morton recounts the incident in UNC-TV’s “Biographical Conversations” (video available online), claiming that the Speed Graphic camera he held in front of his face helped save him from further injury.

Hugh Morton (right, arm in sling) wounded, with photo team, March 1945

A note of interest: the Library of Congress holds the papers and photos of another member of the 161st Photographic Company, Charles Rosario Restifo. Be sure to check out Restifo’s detailed autobiography, wherein he discusses his training, camp life, and experiences in the Pacific, many of which would have been similar to or the same as Morton’s. I don’t believe Restifo is in the picture above, and he doesn’t mention Morton by name in the memoir, but it sounds like they were on many of the same assignments—in fact, if you look on page 98 of Restifo’s book, the image of MacArthur appears to be the exact same image as Morton’s (above)! Not just similar, but identical. Not sure how this happened.

One last Memorial Day musing: Morton didn’t leave his WW2 experiences behind him when he left the Pacific. As I discussed in a previous blog post, he deserves a lot of credit for the establishment of the USS North Carolina as a memorial to North Carolinians who died in WW2 service.

That’s serendipity for you

I am fond of serendipity—rooted, perhaps, in the photographer part of me. Most of my personal photography comes from exploration, not from preconceptions. Serendipity is not, however, aimless wondering. You have to be “tuned in” to what may present itself.

Unidentified students, possibly members of The Daily Tar Heel staff, circa May 1942

Last Friday was the first day we had students from the School of Information and Library Sciences (SILS) digital library class here to scan negatives. For the material to be scanned, Elizabeth and I selected in advance Hugh Morton’s negatives made during his years as a student at UNC. We thought as students themselves they’d have some connection to the images, and it would give us a glimpse into student life on campus in the pre- and early World War II era.

While setting up the workspace on Friday morning, I wanted to walk through the work flow in preparation for the students arrival. I picked out a negative—the image above—that looked too challenging for them to scan right off the bat because the faces and lighter clothing were overexposed. Scanning it gave me some fits, so I decided to try again later. I did, however, recognize on the cover of a Daily Tar Heel newspaper (held by a woman who may be Olive Consecu, secretarial staff member of the student publication The Carolina Magazine) a scene similar to a Hugh Morton negative that I had scanned months earlier while “rummaging” (see below).

N.R.O.T.C students in training, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, circa 1942.

At the end of the day, I launched back into rescanning the negative. With a better scan in hand, I zoomed into the image to see if I could read the issue date, but all I could discern was that the month had a short name, presumably “May,” and that, with the exercising trainees in naval uniforms, it was likely after 7 December 1941. Then, without thought, I recognized that the picture to the left, on the back page, was another Morton negative that I had scanned during that same rummaging phase.

p081_ntbs3_000007_papercrop.jpg

So off I went to the bound volumes of the DTH. At first I could not find the issue. The newsprint is very fragile, so I was carefully handling only the tops of the pages, looking for the full-bleed printed image. Every page was columnar. For each publication volume, however, there are three bound sets. One of the three bound sets was extremely fragile and detached from the spine . . . .

Bound volume of The Daily Tar Heel, 1941-1942 (volume 50)

While gingerly turning pages . . . Voila! I uncovered a special edition smaller than the regular daily issues.

Cover of the The Daily Tar Heel special edition “Your University—Servant to the State” 10 May 1942.

Entitled Your University—Servant of the State, the issue’s twenty pages feature UNC’s shifting roles within the war effort. As then DTH editor Orville Campbell stated, “This is your University. Those who run it for you know that you want them to do everything possible to prepare the youth of this state and nation for service. To that end they are working. We who are students feel that the story of how your University serves the state, the nation, and you needs to be told. To that end The Daily Tar Heel, the students’ newspaper, is publishing this special edition.”

The newspaper credits Hugh Morton, student photographer, for the cover photograph of “NROTC boys going though some physical arm conditioning exercises.” So while the negative above is not the same image as the photograph on the cover, both were very likely shot at the same scene.

Sir Gerald Campbell, British Consul General to the United States, surrounded by UNC students.

A quick examination of the negatives we set aside for the SILS project revealed more images similar to those that appeared in the DTH special edition. Yesterday’s group of students scanned a negative of Sir Gerald Campbell, then British Consul General to the United States, surrounded by eager students (see above). Again it is not the same image as the one published.

Page 20 of the The Daily Tar Heel special edition “Your University—Servant of the State” 10 May 1942.

The caption for the photograph on the back page of the special edition (pictured above) begins, “Penny and pound wise is Dan Martin, self-help senior who this year started a cooperative movement for the budget boys. . . .” Martin was an instrumental player in the first cooperative living project at UNC. He was one of a group of students who moved into a house on Mallett Street in an effort to “fight down rising costs of living.” A scan from a negative with Martin in a very slightly different pose follows.

Dan Martin weighing produce in a Chapel Hill grocery, circa 1942.

To wrap things up, let’s go back to the negative that started all this. Note the “LET’S TALK CAROLINA” button worn by the fellow on the far right (detail below).

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The front page of the regular May 10th edition of the DTH features an editorial, “Talk Carolina,” by Orville Campbell that described the university, confronting dropping enrollment for the fall in the face of war, as being “on the threshold of institutional pathopsychoneurosis.” He continued, “We are the doctors, the cure-all smart boys, if you will, that can change it to an electric magic portal.” Calling upon UNC’s 3,500 students to be salesmen for the university, he proclaimed “That war means clamps for Carolina if we don’t let our friends and their friends in on what we know about it.” The following day, the DTH reported that several campus organizations had rallied behind the idea and that buttons had been ordered for sale at cost. Roland B. Parker, Dean of Men, bought the first button on May 18th.

A trove of information serendipitously discovered . . . just because a negative looked to be a bit too challenging to scan!