Robert E. Alexander Papers

Robert Alexander in uniform

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Title: Robert E. Alexander Papers

Dates: 1940-1997 (Bulk: 1940-1945)

Creator: Robert E. Alexander

Summary/Abstract: The Robert E. Alexander Papers document the military career of Robert Alexander, a Bedford County native who worked in photographic intelligence. The bulk of these papers is comprised of correspondence which relate to Alexander’s training and military experience during World War II. Other materials, such as diaries and photographs, relate Alexander’s experiences during training and active service, including time in Calcutta, India. Alexander’s autobiography It Happened Sorta…Like This documents this period, as well as Alexander’s experiences in the Korean War.

Quantity/ Physical Description: .75 linear foot

Language(s): English

Repository: Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (615) 898-2632

Restrictions on Access: None

Copyright: It is presumed that corporate and individual copyrights in manuscripts, photographs, and other materials have been retained by the copyright owners. Copyright restrictions apply. Users of materials should seek necessary permissions from the copyright holders to comply with U.S. copyright laws.

Preferred Citation: (Box Number, Folder Number), The Robert E. Alexander Papers, Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Acquisition: Robert E. Alexander; Spring of 2003

Processed By: Original processor undetermined.

Arrangement: These papers are arranged by series according to the donor’s original order. Materials in Series 1, Correspondence, are arranged chronologically. Materials in Series 2, Personal, are arranged by type. Materials in Series 3, Publications, are arranged alphabetically by title.

Biographical Note: Robert E. Alexander, Jr., was born on December 20, 1918, to Robert Edgar Alexander and Daisie Marks Alexander. He worked on a family farm in Bedford County, Tennessee, for most of his childhood. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Alexander attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. While there, he majored in finance and played in the UT Band. During the summers of his college years, he was able to work in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The work consisted of checking farms for compliance with the allotted amount of corn, beans, cotton, tobacco, and other agricultural products. Aerial photographs were used to determine acreage and other related issues.

In June of 1942, Alexander joined the Army and was stationed at training facilities in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia; Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi; and Isaac Delgado Trade School near New Orleans, Louisiana.  After Delgado, Alexander’s next assignment was with the Vultee Aircraft Corporation in Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he was trained on the A31 Dive Bomber that was being manufactured at that location. Subsequently, Alexander was assigned to the Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida. On March 2, 1943, Alexander was assigned to enter the Photo Intelligence School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In April of 1943, Alexander was assigned to Will Rogers Field near Oklahoma City. On May 14, 1943, he arrived at the Army air base near Birmingham, Alabama, and was assigned to the headquarters of the 42nd Bomb Wing. On July 21, 1943, he was released from duty with the 42nd Bomb Wing and assigned to Shipment AK705 at the Port of Embarkation in Los Angeles, California. On October 9, 1943, Alexander, along with other photo intelligence officers, went to Calcutta, India. While in Calcutta, Alexander took many photographs and wrote about his experiences and observations.

In addition to Calcutta, Alexander and other photographers visited Tibet, New Delhi, Simla, Raniket, and Nainital, India. In 1945, Alexander returned home to the United States. During the Korean War, he and other officers who had been photo interpreters during World War II were recalled to active duty. Alexander was assigned to Lawson Air Force Base at Ft. Benning, Georgia. On December 13, 1951, Alexander was transferred from the 117th Photo Recon Tech Squad at Ft. Benning to the 118th Photo Recon Tech Squad at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. On June 20, 1952, Alexander was discharged from the Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base. After he was discharged, Alexander held jobs at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Scope and Content: The Robert E. Alexander Papers span the years 1940 to 1997. Documents relating to Alexander's training experiences and his work in photograph intelligence in India during World War II comprise the majority of the .75 linear foot collection. It includes correspondence from 1940-1945 between Alexander and his parents, sister, and brother-in-law; two personal diaries from the 1940s; and publications such as his autobiography, entitled It Happened Sorta… Like This. The papers are organized into three series: 1) Correspondence, 2) Personal, and 3) Publications.  All photographs, primarily of India and Alexander’s family, are housed with the Albert Gore Research Center’s photographs.

Associated Materials: Photographs in the Robert E. Alexander Papers are stored separately in the Albert Gore Research Center.

Related Collections: Robert E. Alexander’s oral history interview is stored in the Middle Tennessee Oral History Collection, MT159 Alexander.

Subject Terms

Persons
Robert E. Alexander

Places
Bedford County
Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Miami Beach, Florida
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Los Angeles, California
Calcutta, India
Tibet
New Delhi, India
Simla, India
Raniket, India
Nainital, India
Fort Benning, Georgia
Sumter, South Carolina
Tullahoma, Tennessee

Subjects (General)
World War II
Photographs
Military intelligence
Autobiographies
Military training

Material Types
Correspondence
Diaries
Programs
Books
Booklets
Ephemera

Collection Inventory:

Box

Folder

Series

Description of Contents

1

1

Correspondence

Subject is “Consolidated Vultee – Nashville Letters;” includes four letters related to Alexander’s assignment at Vultee Aircraft Corporation in Nashville; undated, 1942

1

2

Correspondence

“Letters to Home Prior to Being Drafted;” includes four letters to parents, sister and brother in law; undated

1

3

Correspondence

“No Date Letters;” seven letters to family members including parents, sister and brother in law; undated

1

4

Correspondence

“October 1940 Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Dad;” two letters from Alexander to parents; October 1940

1

5

Correspondence

“April-December, 1942 Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Dad;” seven letters, two postcards, one news article; April – December 1942

1

6

Correspondence

“Camp Forrest – 1942;” one postcard & five letters related to Camp Forrest; 1942

1

7

Correspondence

“Delgado Trades School – 1942, Letters to Folks, to Sis & George;” forty-seven letters from Alexander while at Isaac Delgado Trade School; 1942

1

8

Correspondence

“Keesler Field, Mississippi 1942, Letters to Folks, to Sis & George;” 17 letters written home to family while visiting Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi; Summer 1942

1

9

Correspondence

“Miami, 1942, Letters to Folks, to Sis and George;” 13 letters written from the Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida; also includes two invitations and two news articles

1

10

Correspondence

“Postcards, 1942-1943, From R.E. to Folks;” includes four postcards written from Alexander to his parents, while in Miami Beach

1

11

Correspondence

“OLS Stuff;” one letter

1

12

Correspondence

“Oscar Gatlin Letters to R.E. Alexander-1943;” one letter to Alexander from Oscar Gatlin

1

13

Correspondence

“January 25, 1943, Letter from R.E. to Dad;” one letter, written from Miami Beach, Florida

1

14

Correspondence

“February, 1943, Letter from R.E. to Sis & George;” one letter, written from Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida

1

15

Correspondence

“May 1943, Letter from R.E. to Sis & George, to Folks;” three letters, written from the Army Air Base in Birmingham, Alabama

1

16

Correspondence

“July 1943, Letters from Mildred to R.E.;” two letters written to Alexander, while stationed at Birmingham

1

17

Correspondence

“July 1943, Letters from R.E. to Folks;” fifteen letters from Alexander to parents while on Base at Birmingham, Alabama, or at the Port of Embarkation in Los Angeles, California

1

18

Correspondence

“August, 1943, Letters from R.E. to Folks;” two letters written by Alexander to parents while at the Port of Embarkation in Los Angeles

1

19

Correspondence

“September 1943, From R.E. to Sis & George;” seven letters written from the Port of Embarkation in Los Angeles

1

20

Correspondence

“September-November 1943 V-Mails;” two letters to Mrs. Robert Alexander; three to Mrs. George Price; written from Los Angeles; in October 1943, Alexander was moved to Calcutta, India

1

21

Correspondence

“October 1943, Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Sis & George;” thirteen letters written to family from Calcutta; one V-Mail from Mildred

1

22

Correspondence

“November 1943, Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Sis & George;” nine letters written from Calcutta

1

23

Correspondence

“December 1943, Letters to Folks, to Sis & George;” eleven letters written to family from Calcutta

1

24

Correspondence

“December 1, 1943, Letter from Mrs. George Price to Mr. and Mrs. Alexander;” one letter, written from Alexander’s sister

2

1

Correspondence

“January 1944, Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Sis & George;” eight letters written from India

2

2

Correspondence

“February 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George;” seventeen letters written from India

2

3

Correspondence

“March 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George; fifteen letters written from India

2

4

Correspondence

“April 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George;” ten letters written from India

2

5

Correspondence

“May 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George,” twenty-one letters written from India

2

6

Correspondence

“June 1944, Letters from R.E. to Folks, to Sis & George;” fifteen letters written from India

2

7

Correspondence

“July 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George;” sixteen letters written from India

2

8

Correspondence

“August 1944, Letters from R.E. to folks, to Sis & George;” twelve letters written from India

2

9

Correspondence

“June 18, 1945 Letter to Mrs. George Price from R.E. Alexander;” one letter from Alexander to his Sister, from India

2

10

Personal

“Diaries of R.E. Alexander;” two diaries recount Alexander’s experiences as a photographic intelligence trainee and officer in 1940s

2

11

Personal

“Misc. Materials 1941-1943;” including commencement programs, a Nashville Consolidated Vultee dive bomber patch, and other miscellaneous paper & ephemera

2

12

Personal

“Race Program – Calcutta Spring Meeting, Feb. 5, 1941”

3

1

Publications

It Happened Sorta…Like This, an autobiography by R.E. Alexander; book

3

2

Publications

“Eighth Reconnaissance Group Activities Jan. 1-Jun 30, 1945;” one booklet

3

3

Publications

“The 10th Phototech in India, 1944-1945;” one booklet