University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

John Reynolds Ernest Papers

1941 - 1944

Manuscript Collection Number: 119
Accessioned: Gift
Extent: 407 items (1 linear ft. plus artifacts)
Content: Letters, memoranda, bulletins, clippings, pamphlets, ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: July 1988 by Eric Wittkoff and revised by Anita Wellner April 1993.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

John Reynolds Ernest was a Newark, Delaware, resident who was actively involved with the Civil Defense program in the Newark area during World War II. In 1942 at the age of 51, he resided at 45 West Park Place.

Ernest was a section warden for Air Raid Zone 7 (or occasionally number 3) of Newark. Zone 7 included the area bordered by Main Street on the North, West Park Place on the South, South College on the East, and Elkton Road on the West (see map in F11). Ernest's post was the corner of Orchard Road and West Park Place.

This collection includes several identification cards belonging to John R. Ernest, including an Aircraft Warning Service card which bears a photograph of Ernest (F47).

The collection also includes several items contributed by William Ditto Lewis, University Librarian at Delaware from 1930-1958 (F45, F47).


Biographical information is derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a variety of letters, bulletins, documents, and memorabilia relating to the United States Army Aircraft Warning Service and the Newark Council for Civilian Defense for the period 1941-1944. Gathered by John R. Ernest, who served in these programs, the papers consist primarily of letters, memoranda, schedules, and training material directed to John Reynolds Ernest and others in their official capacity with the United States Army Aircraft Warning Service and with the Newark Council for Civilian Defense.

Individuals whose names appear with frequency in the material include Ernest, who served as a Newark Air Raid Warden; T. Russell Silk, Personnel Director for the Newark Council for Civilian Defense; Almar A. Reiff, Jr., Senior Air Raid Warden for Newark; F. Allyn Cooch, Chief Observer for observation post #10-A at Newark; and John R. Fader, District Director, First Fighter Command, Ground Observation Section, Philadelphia Fighter Wing.

Also included in the Ernest papers are an assortment of government training publications and ephemeral material related to civilian defense, war bonds, and rationing during World War II.

The collection documents the Civil Defense activities in Newark, Delaware, during World War II and serves as a good example of the Civil Defense activities which were taking place throughout the United States during this period. As a coastal area, Delaware and the surrounding region was regarded as a potential target for enemy air strikes, and the papers reflect the seriousness with which this potential threat was taken by regional residents and national civil defense coordinators.

Arrangement Note

The John Reynolds Ernest Papers are arranged in the following three series: Series I. Letters, Memoranda, and Supporting Documents; Series II. Printed Material and Artifacts; Series III. Personnel Documents. Materials are arranged chronologically within these series.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  Correspondence, Memoranda, and Supporting
               Documents, 1941-1944.
               Primarily internal in nature, this series includes
               items directed to John Reynolds Ernest and others
               in their official capacity with the United States
               Army Aircraft Warning Service and the Newark
               Council for Civilian Defense.  

               Documents in the series detail the procedures to
               be observed during the formation and functioning
               of these organizations and the administration of
               their activities, which included meetings,
               training and drills, fundraising, public
               relations, and various personnel issues.

     F1   1941 Apr
          Address delivered at State Educational Conference for
          High Schools titled "Fitness for the National
          Emergency."  1 item.

     F2   1941 Aug-Oct
          Information on radio programs pertaining to air defense
          exercises and the American Legion.  4 items.

     F3   1941 Oct 14
          Contains instructions related to the organization of an
          aircraft observation post for observers and a list of
          the Newark civilian observers.  13 items.

     F4   1941 Oct-Dec 
          Record of flash messages sent in October.  12 items.

     F5   1942 Jan-Feb
          Includes article and paper relating to incendiary bombs
          and the observers' schedule for the Chestnut Hill Post. 
          8 items.

     F6   1942 Mar-Apr
          Includes material on air raid signals, lists of air
          raid wardens for Zones 5 and 7.  7 items.

     F7   1942 May
          Includes U.S. Army Aircraft Warning Service Assistant
          Chief Observer Identification Card and list of eligible
          Newark observers.  5 items.

     F8   1942 Jun
          Includes operating manual for section nine of the Mount
          Pleasant Defense Council, New Castle County, Delaware
          and a list of the Messenger Force for Newark.  4 items.

     F9   1942 Jul 1-7
          Includes memoranda regarding problems in the Newark
          organization and operation.  9 items.
     F10  1942 Jul 13-24
          Information about Zone 1.  11 items.

1         Series I.  Letters, Memoranda (cont'd)

     F11  1942 Jul 24
          Information about Zones 2, 3 (7), and 4.  6 items.

     F12  1942 Jul 24
          Information about Zone 7 (3).  6 items.

     F13  1942 Jul 24
          Information about Zones 10 and 11.  5 items.

     F14  1942 Jul 24
          Information about Zones 12, 13, and 14.  10 items.

     F15  1942 Jul 25-31
          Includes National Liberty Insurance Company Fire
          Insurance Policy for Newark Observation Post #10-A and
          a list of auxiliary police.  4 items.  

     F16  1942 Aug-Sep
          Includes "Instructions for Chief Observers" and fund
          raising materials.  7 items.

     F17  1942 Sep 17
          Financial documents pertaining to Newark Aircraft
          Warning Service Observation Post #10-A.  10 items.

     F18  1942 Oct-Nov 3
          Minutes of meetings of the civilian defense staff of
          Newark.  8 items.

     F19  1942 Nov 10-Dec
          Minutes and the official oath for observers.  7 items.

     F20  1943 Jan
          Regional bulletins.  7 items.

     F21  1943 Feb 3-4
          Information about the 1943 Victory Book Campaign.      
          5 items.

     F22  1943 Feb 7
          Includes flyer, "Meet Your Air Raid Warden."  19 items.

     F23  1943 Feb 7
          Includes flyer, "How to Black-out Windows."  11 items.

     F24  1943 Feb 10-Apr 8
          Includes flyer, "Air Raid Signals" and information on
          gas rationing.  8 items.

     F25  1943 Apr 9-May
          Includes bulletin, "How to Protect Yourself Against War
          Gas."  11 items.

1         Series I.  Letters, Memoranda (cont'd)

     F26  1943 Jun
          Includes flyer, "New Air Raid Signals at a Glance."    
          8 items.

     F27  1943 Jul-Sep
          Information of reduction of observation personnel to
          free manpower for direct war effort.  11 items.

     F28  1943 Oct-Nov
          Letters concerning the reduction.  6 items.

2    F29  1944 Jan-May
          Bulletins, including one on gas defense.  5 items.

     F30  1944 Jul-Dec
          Includes fire insurance policy for Newark Observation
          Post #10-A and a flyer, "Are You Risking Your Right to
          Drive?"  11 items.

     F31  Undated
          Information regarding auxiliary air wardens.  12 items.

     F32  Undated
          Information regarding auxiliary police.  5 items.

     F33  Undated
          Material regarding bomb reconnaissance and practice
          alerts.  10 items.

     F34  Undated
          Includes bulletin, "Summary of Important Chemical
          Agents."  4 items.

     F35  Undated
          Includes blank identification tags for simulated war
          casualties, "Information for War Loan Workers," and
          instructions for filing Delaware tax returns.   11

     F36  Undated
          Instructions for civilian defense workers.  1 item.

          Series II.  Printed Material and Artifacts, 1941-1943.
               Includes newspaper clippings, government
               pamphlets, other printed materials, and artifacts
               relating to Civil Defense procedures and
               activities gathered by Ernest during the course of
               his work.

     F37  Newspaper clippings,
          Includes a copy of The Observation Post (1942). 
          9 items.

2         Series II.  Printed Material and Artifacts (cont'd)

     F38  Pamphlets, 1941-1944
          Copies of "A Job Only a Woman Can Do," "A Handbook for
          Air Raid Wardens," and "Display Your Colors."  3 items.

     F39  Booklet, 1941
          Copy of Blackouts.  1 item.

     F40  Pamphlets, 1941-1942
          Copies of "A Handbook for Fire Watchers," and "Air Raid
          Precaution Services."   2 items.

     F41  Pamphlet and Directory, 1941-1943
          Copy of "Administrative Manual for the Air Raid Wardens
          Unit," and Telephone Directory for Newark, Delaware.  
          2 items.

     F42  Printed Material, [n.d.]
          Blank ticket books for contributions to Newark Area
          Civil Defense Fund.  2 items.

     F43  Printed ephemera, 1941-1945
          Includes war bond recruitment material.  7 items.

     F44  Armbands, [n.d.]
          Worn by Civil Defense personnel.  4 items.

     F45  Ration books and applications, 1942-1945
          13 items.

     F46  Ration books, coupons, and tokens, 1945
          18 items.

     F47  War-related identification, 1942-1945
          Includes Ernest's membership cards for the Delaware
          Council of Defense and the Aircraft Warning Service. 
          The latter bears a photograph of Ernest.  Also includes
          Ernest's Selective Service card and an identification
          card for William Ditto Lewis.  9 items.

     F48  Log of Observation for Post #10-A, 1942 Apr-1943 Jan
          Includes names of observers and visitors, number of
          planes sighted, and weather conditions.  105 pp.

3    No   Civilian defense sash, [n.d.]

4    No   Civilian defense helmet, [n.d.]

3         Series III.  Personnel Records, 1941-1942
               Consists of applications for prospective
               volunteers, lists of personnel, schedules, and
               blank duty logs.

     F49  Notes and schedules, [n.d.]
          16 items.

     F50  List of Air Wardens, [n.d.]
          4 items.

     F51  List of Civilian Aircraft Observers at the Glasgow
          Observation Post, [n.d.]
          1 item.

     F52  Civilian Aircraft Observer Applications, [1941-1942]
     -71  Applications submitted by Newark residents, arranged
          alphabetically by last name.  193 items.  

     F72  Blank duty log sheets, [n.d.]
     -73  3 items.

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