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Herbert R. Davis photograph albums

 Collection — Flat_Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 16840

Content Description

This collection contains two photo albums of Herbert R. Davis of Richmond, Virginia that document Black pre-World War II life in Richmond; Davis's service in the South Pacific (Guam, Guadalco, and Peleliu) as a Black Marine; and Davis's family life upon his return from combat during the early 1930's to the late 1940's.

Many of Davis's fellow soldiers in the 11th Marine Depot Company, 16th Field Depot are posed in photographs. The 11th Company, who fought at the Battle of Peleliu, had the heaviest casualty rate of any Black marine unit in the war. However, the majority of the photographs document African American communities in pre and post-war Richmond. Included are shots of Davis with friends and family, as well as studio and arcade portraits. They include street scenes, Black parades, including the African American Women's Army Corps (WAC), and sporting events. About twenty images depict segregation, with two images that include businesses with signs for "Coloreds" or "Whites" and others that include a segregated beach.

When the 1st Marine Division, on 15 September 1944, attacked the heavily defended island of Peleliu in the Palau group, the 16th Field Depot supported the assault troops. The field depot included two African-American units, the 11th Marine Depot Company and the 7th Marine Ammunition Company. The 11th Marine Depot Company responded beyond the call of duty and paid the price, 17 wounded, the highest casualty rate of any company of African-American Marines during the entire war. Major General William H. Rupertus, who commanded the 1st Marine Division, sent identical letters of commendation to the commanders of both companies, praising the Black Marines for their "whole hearted cooperation and untiring efforts" which "demonstrated in every respect" that they "appreciate the privilege of wearing a Marine uniform and serving with Marines in combat."

The album contains photographs of Herbert Davis and other marines holding guns in Peleliu, Palau.

The two albums contain seventy-one leaves with 324 black and white photographs and fourteen color photographs. 134 are hinged mounted, while the rest are corner mounted or tipped in. Some of the photographs contain captions. Many pages have missing photographs.

Source: Nalty, Bernard, C. "The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II" Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division


  • Creation: c. 1930-1950

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.


0.6 Cubic Feet (One medium oversize flat box)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Langdon Manor by the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on 7 February 2024.

Herbert R. Davis photograph albums
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States