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Davis Minshew Second World War correspondence collection

 Collection — Box: WWII 45, Folder: 8-15
Identifier: 2016-170-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains the correspondence of Lt. Davis Minshew, U.S. Navy, written to Leonard L. Gorin, Jr., between 1938 and 1949. There are no letters from 1943. Other gaps are from November 1940 to April 1941, from August 1942 to June 1944 and from June 1947 to February 1948. Most of the letters are from Minshew during his service in the Navy during the Second World War. The collection also contains correspondence to Leonard Gorin, Jr. from Davis Minshew's mother (Missouri Avery Minshew), from W. R. Lundgren (Bill) and from others identified only by first name, Martha/Marty (married to Bill), and from Minshew's Aunt Vera and a Connie.

-- Minshew's letters indicate he was very intelligent and well-read. He writes well. He makes many references to authors of philosophy and literature and their works. Minshew's letters reflect his disdain for authority, for the military, and for much of society. Early in the span of letters (p.62), he writes to Gorin, "Do you know what the trouble with me is? It is that I have never found a thing yet that I give a damn about." He often writes of his anger calling it "redass." He proclaims "I early lost a God, I early lost a mother ..." However, he occasionally mentions seeing or writing to his mother. He make small mention of his father's death in 1939, and expresses his envy and dislike of his sister and of his parents' favoring her.

-- Minshew writes a great deal about his life and circumstances; lodging, drinking, smoking and sex. His letters mention many sexual encounters, but no long-term relationships. In a 5-28-46 letter he writes a self-deprecating letter claiming "I was always a taker, never a giver ... I never even loved anyone, did I?...I never gave one of them anything of value, did I? ... I haven't ever made a generous gesture of note in my whole life."

-- Minshew values his relationship with Gorin above all others and writes often of how important their friendship is, his admiration of Gorin, how much he values his letters, his closeness to Gorin and Gorin's parents. "Your friendship is the only close attachment I've ever formed." (p.288) "you are part of me, I am part of you."" (p. 102) "It has always been a small wonder to me to realize from time-to-time the almost mystical depth I have always attached to my connection with you." (4-21-46)

-- Although some of Minshew's letters relate specific significant events during his service, such as rescuing ships during typhoons in Okinawa and the tedium of months at sea aboard a submarine, most of his correspondence is stream-of-consciousness writing relaying his moods and thoughts about his life and relationships. Minshew's use of sarcasm, obscure words and Yiddish can make the meaning and intent of his writing difficult to decipher.

-- Early letters (1938) are during Minshew's employment with Braniff Airways in Texas. Subsequent letters reflect many jobs, military training and periods of unemployment. In March of 1939 he is flight training at Randolph Field in Texas. He fails flight school for "being dangerous in traffic" and returns home to Teague, TX. He then writes of naval navigation training at Maxwell Field in Alabama and Coral Gables, Florida in April and May 1941. He writes of his discharge in July 1941 and subsequent Navy training school at Northwestern University. He writes he is "kicked out" of that training, is hospitalized (the first of several), then reports to New London, CT for submarine duty on the USS R-14. He writes proudly of his capabilities of commandeering a submarine. There are no letters about his war service in 1943. In June of 1944 he writes of amphibious training at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, VA then assignment to LST 954 - USS Numitor and service in the Pacific. In September 1945 he assumes command of the USS Menominee in Okinawa, then in December command of the USS Laysan Island at Pearl Harbor. In April 1946 he is in command of the USS Abnaki in Japan. He applies for command with the regular U.S. Navy but is rejected in May 1946. In December 1946 he is working as a clerk at the Bank of Hawaii. He writes he asked the bank for a raise in June 1947 but was "let go" instead. He writes of his intention to return to Texas and asks Gorin if he knows of any work. Minshew's next letters are from Feb. 1948 on stationery from National Steel Compressing in Texas.

-- In the last letter to Gorin, April 12, 1949, Minshew writes about his theory "that people don't ever change" and "play their same old record." He writes from a room at the YMCA in Houston, TX and and asks if they might get "together anywhere sometime in the close future."

--Davis Minshew died June 27, 1949 in Houston TX at the age of 33. The circumstances of his unexpected death are not clear. Minshew is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Teague, TX.


  • 1937 February 1-2001 August 5
  • Majority of material found within 1937 February 1-1950 July 24


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions. For further copyright information, please contact the archivist.

Biographical / Historical

Davis Minshew, son of Thomas E. and Missouri Avery Minshew, was born May 16, 1916 in Teague, TX and died June 27, 1949 in Houston, TX. During the Second World War Lt. Minshew served on the USS R-14, and commanded the USS Numitor, USS Menominee, USS Layson Island and USS Abnaki. -- --


.167 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence from Lt. Davis Minshew, USN, to his friend Leonard Gorin, Jr. written between 1938 and 1949. The correspondence includes Minshew's pre-war occupations and military training and well as his wartime experiences and post-war jobs. It also contains correspondence to Leonard Gorin, Jr. from Davis Minshew's mother (Missouri Avery), from his aunt Vera Gorin, from W. R. Lundgren (Bill) and from others identified only by first name, Marty (married to Bill) and Connie.


Letters in the collection are arrranged by material type, date, and author. Most of the letters are from Davis Minshew to his friend Leonard L. Gorin, Jr. Gorin assigned numbers to the correspondence, writing the numbers in the lower right corner of the pages. For the most part, this numbering follows the chronolgical order of the letters, but there are a few exceptions. In those instances, the letters are arranged by date rather than by Gorin's numbering. -- Series list: Series 1. Correspondence from Davis Minshew to Leonard L. Gorin, Jr. - Series 2. Correspondence from Missouri Avery Minshew to Leonard L. Gorin, Jr. - Series 3. Correspondence from W.R. (Bill) and Marty Lundgren to Leonard L. Gorin, Jr. - Series 4. Correspondence from Vera Gorin and Connie to Leonard L. Gorin, Jr. - Series 5. Biographical information on Leonard L. Gorin, Jr.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Boyd Mangrum and Melvin Lipsitz, Jr.



Finding Aid for the Davis Minshew Second World War correspondence
Sharon Clairemont
February 7, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States