New Collection of a U.S. Army Comic Books Series Available

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina would like to announce the recent donation of the PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly Collection. The PS Collection is composed currently of 69 issues of the U.S. Army technical bulletin PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, ranging from 1953 to 1993 (with gaps).

Two-page spread of the PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly

PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly, Issue 203, 1969

The bulletin uses cartoon characters and graphics in a comic-book style to add humor to maintenance challenges and equipment repair processes for Army soldiers, Army civilians, and contractors that own, operate, and maintain the Army’s equipment—particularly vehicles and tanks. PS is filled with cartoons detailing technical, safety, and policy information, with artwork from leading cartoons and comic-book artists. The PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly Collection is available for use in the Search Room at the State Archives, with a finding aid consisting of an inventory of the bulletin’s issues available.

As the U.S. Army ramped up for its involvement in the Korean War between 1950 and 1951, it realized that its soldiers were encountering problems with their Army equipment—particularly vehicles and tanks. The Army had experienced some degree of acceptance and success during World War II in utilizing cartoons for educational purposes through the publication Army Motors. Army Motors utilized the cartoon drawings of then Cpl. Will Eisner, who was already famous for his work on the comic book The Spirit when he was drafted for duty during WWII. An established comic-book writer, artist, and editor, Eisner had been appropriated to draw such characters for WWII publications (including Army Motors) as Private Joe Dope, Connie Rodd, and Master Sergeant Half-Mast McCanick. In 1951, the U.S. Army hired Eisner to create similar instructional material for its new publication to address equipment issues, called PS: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly. PS is an official Army technical bulletin.

Eisner founded the American Visuals Corporation in the late 1940s as a commercial cartoon artwork company. The company produced educational cartoons and illustrations and giveaway comics for a variety of clients and industries. As part of AVC’s contracts, PS was created by Eisner and his contract artists, with him serving as the publication’s artistic director from its inception in 1951 through the end of 1971. In the case of PS, Eisner created the continuity section and the art of each issue, based upon the technical manuscripts provided to him by the Army’s PS staff. As part of his contract with the magazine, Eisner was sent on location to places like Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, in order to meet soldiers and better understand the situations they and their equipment experienced.

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Each issue of the PS magazine consisted of a color comic-book-style cover, often designed and drawn by Eisner; eight full pages of a four-color comic continuity story in the middle; and the rest of the publication filled with technical, safety, and policy information printed in two colors to save money. The continuity story starred Eisner’s earlier character, and was called “Joe’s Dope Sheet.” Each episode offers the same cautionary tale: a soldier who ignores preventive maintenance learns of its importance in the end.

The Military Collection could use your help in building the collection’s holdings of issues of PS. There are over 750 issues as of 2017. If you or someone you know has any issues of PS: Preventive Maintenance Monthly and are willing to donate them, please contact Military Collection Archivist Matthew Peek by phone at 919-807-7314 or by email at Any new issues will be added to the collection. We hope to build it into one of the largest collections of PS in the United States.


Eyewitness to Barnum’s show

CH TubbsPvt. Charles Henry Tubbs served in the 27th Massachusetts volunteers during the first years of the Civil War and in 1863, due to a lingering illness, was transferred to the Invalid Corps – a group of men who were not healthy enough for combat duty but were well enough for garrison duty.  Tubbs’ first service was in North Carolina, where he spent a little more than a year between 1862 and 1863.  After the riots in New York City in the summer of 1863, the Invalid Corps was stationed in New York City to keep the peace.  Tubbs wrote letters to his wife Minerva (Nerve, as he called her) in Massachusetts from his post in Brooklyn.  Tubbs transferred one last time from Brooklyn to Washington DC as the Invalid Corps was moved to help guard the Nation’s Capital after the Confederate raid in the summer of 1864.

While in Brooklyn, Tubbs visited P.T. Barnum’s show and sent a detailed description home to Nerve.  His letter gives an interesting view of the show as seen by someone who was contemporary to the event. His account is even more interesting due to the recent success of the current movie about Barnum’s show.

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Friday Find – Some Old Miscellaneous Microfilm

Today’s Friday Find involves some microfilm that has been with the State Archives a long time but is now residing in a new location within the Archives system.

This is microfilm that was originally imaged by the Mormon church in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  The material was still in the county office at time of imaging.  It could be early examples of records that the State Archives has in the county collections (the deeds, for example), it could be items that may or may not have been transferred to the State Archives (the Chowan court papers, for example) or it may be something that the State Archives does not otherwise have on microfilm (the Rowan County administrator bonds for example).

A card catalog card has been placed with the miscellaneous collection cards and a cross reference catalog card has been placed in the county materials.  Researchers may come across the old reference number when researching in published works – those reference numbers are retained on the box labels to assist future researchers in finding the same information as cited by a previous researcher.

Z.1.71.1 Duplin County Deeds, Books 1, 2; 1754-1768

Z.1.71.2 Duplin County Deeds, Books 3, 4; 1757-1772

Z.1.71.3 Duplin County Deeds, Books 5-7; 1775-1783

Z.1.71.4 Duplin County Deeds, Book 8; 1783-1792

Z.1.71.5 Duplin County Deed Index, Grantors and Grantees, 1779-1850

Z.1.71.6 Duplin County Division of Land, Book A, 1800-1860

Z.1.71.7 Duplin County, Inventories and Accounts of Estates, 1754-1800 part 1

Z.1.71.8 Duplin County, Inventories and Accounts of Estates, 1754-1800 part 2

Z.1.71.9 Duplin County, Inventories and Accounts of Estates, 1754-1800 part 3

Z.1.72    Rowan County, Administrators Bonds, 1823-1830

Z.1.73    Chowan County, Orders of the Court, 1780-1830, one volume

Microfilm is self-service but, as always, you can ask the Reference staff for assistance in finding records, loading microfilm, and getting a copy of the single record or the whole reel.

New Siler City Veteran’s Vietnam War Collection Available

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photograph of Grover M. Johnson Jr. standing next to the sign for Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands, ca. 1968

Photograph of Grover M. Johnson Jr., wearing civilian clothes and dark-colored sunglasses, standing next to the sign for Headquarters Company, Headquarters, U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands (USARYIS), on Okinawa during the Vietnam War around 1968. Military buildings and a car are seen in the background. Photograph taken by or collected by Grover M. Johnson Jr. while he was stationed on Okinawa at USARYIS (circa 1968). (VW 3.B3.F1.11)

One of the goals of the Military Collection in the coming years is to grow its collection of materials documenting North Carolinians and North Carolina military installations during the Vietnam War era between 1961 and 1975. We are excited to announce the availability of the recently-processed Grover M. Johnson Jr. Papers.

The Grover M. Johnson Jr. Papers is composed of correspondence, photographs, 35mm and 126 Format color slides, and miscellaneous materials, documenting the U.S. Army service of Grover M. Johnson Jr. of Siler City, N.C., during the Vietnam War from November 1966 to October 1968. He served for several months in the 569th General Supply Company at the U.S. Army’s Camp Davies, just outside of Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. For most of his overseas service during the war, Johnson Jr. served on Okinawa in the Headquarters Company at Headquarters, U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands (USARYIS).

The bulk of the collection is composed of Johnson Jr.’s letters from November 1966 to September 1968, which document his daily existence in military camps, doing guard duty in Vietnam, his sightseeing and travels, activities and sports he engaged in, and the average life of a non-combat Army soldier during the war. The correspondence gives Johnson Jr.’s impressions of the culture and society he encounters in Saigon and Okinawa.

Photograph of Grover M. Johnson Jr. standing in an alley behind some buildings in an unidentified city.

Photograph of Grover M. Johnson Jr., wearing civilian clothes and dark-colored sunglasses, standing in an alley behind some buildings in an unidentified city [believed to be on Okinawa], with two young girls standing in the middle of the alley behind Johnson Jr. Photograph taken while Johnson Jr. was stationed on Okinawa at USARYIS (undated). (VW 3.B3.F1.17)

Perhaps the most significant items in the collection are the 178 photographs, 35mm color slides, and 126 Format color slides taken by Grover Johnson Jr. as a hobby while he was stationed in Vietnam and Okinawa. The majority of the photographs were taken in and around Saigon and Camp Davies in 1967, and the color slides were all taken on Okinawa in 1968. They offer a rare, unedited look at civilian and soldier life just as the Vietnam War was escalating.

The collection is available for research in the Vietnam War Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina. All of Johnson’s Vietnam photographs have been digitized, and are available for viewing online with full descriptions through the State Archives’ Flickr page.

Vintage Greeting Cards in the Barber and Towler Papers (PC.1995): Christmas and New Year’s, 1920

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist, Special Collections Section, State Archives of North Carolina.]

The Barber and Towler Papers (PC.1995) are one of various Private Collections that include a box or at least a series devoted exclusively to greeting cards. This particular collection has only vintage cards, with most being Christmas and New Year’s greetings. Though many were sent by businesses, including The Raleigh Times, the example below is a 1920 Christmas postcard sent to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. James J. Towler, Raleigh, North Carolina.

The side of the card with the address and stamp includes the notation that the card was “Whitney Made.”  Behind that trademark is a fascinating bit of greeting card history with a small but significant North Carolina connection. “Whitney Made” refers especially to George Clarkson Whitney (1842–1915), Worcester, Massachusetts native. In 1861 George enlisted in the Union Army, entering as a private in the 51st Regiment. Later in his military service, George was a clerk in the Provost Marshal’s Office, working with Major Harkness at Beaufort, North Carolina, which fell under Federal occupation during 1862.

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New Digital Collection: Travel Perspectives


Stewart Family Ledger and Scrapbook, available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Travel Perspectives collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features narratives and images of tourism as experienced by North Carolinians, found within the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. These documents consist of letters, scrapbooks, journals, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the representation of the creator’s travels and experiences. The collection consists of items dating primarily from the 1850s through the 1950s, representing the first significant wave of mass tourism in which North Carolinians participated.

For more information on topics related to this collection, please check out this NCpedia page developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

Another digital collection of interest includes the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos Project, which includes a series of photos, originally used in advertising campaigns to market the state as a travel destination, produced between 1929 and 1970 by the Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division.

Champney Sketches Added to NC Digital Collections

We are constantly adding new materials to the North Carolina Digital Collections, but one recent addition of note includes the Civil War sketches of soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney, from the Outer Banks History Center.


Juniper Bay, Hyde County, N.C. Civil War sketches by Edwin G. Champney, Civil War Collection, NC Digital Collections

This collection includes sixty unpublished pen-and-ink sketchbook drawings of coastal North Carolina between 1862-1863 illustrated by soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney (1843-1899). Champney was a native Bostonian and Union soldier. Champney enlisted as a private in the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Company G at the time he sketched the drawings. He arrived in Eastern North Carolina in October 1862 and took part in the Goldsboro Expedition. Champney was stationed at Cape Hatteras from February 23, 1863 until the close of his North Carolina tour on June 22, 1863. The original artwork include scenes showing landmarks, landscapes, and Union military activity from or in the vicinity of Hatteras Island, New Bern, Kinston, Plymouth, and Hyde County. The sketchbook was donated to the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, which is the permanent home for the drawings.

These materials are now part of the Civil War Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections.