The Albert Victor Johnson Photograph Collection depicts some aspects of his life as a sailor in the United States Navy, some of the daily routines and activities aboard a Navy battleship, and some of the Navy's activities in the Atlantic and Latin America, during the period of 1910 to 1915.
Content: Many photographs bear either handwritten and/or typewritten descriptive information on verso; most items are accompanied by notecards with typewritten captions; many images have captions printed on recto; one item has handwritten caption on recto. All items were formerly part of a photo scrapbook.
Content: Some photographs have photographer's or photography studio's name printed on recto; two items have photographystudio name printed on verso; one item has photography studio hand stamp.
Content: The collection consists of individual and group portraits and candid shots of Johnson, sailors and officers; views of military life aboard battleships and in foreign nations; views of military gunnery demostrations, inspections, sporting competitions and ceremonies; Naval battleships under construction, in port and at sea; views of the Panama Canal Zone; and views of the 1914 American invasion and occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution. Some images of Italy, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and crossing the Atlantic Ocean are included. Nothing of Johnson's personal or civilian life is depicted.
Depictions of military life include a studio group portrait of Johnson, with another sailor and a steward identified as Ennis and Hopkins (n.d); a candid group portrait of Johnson with the three inch gun crew of the U.S.S. Missouri (1911); a studio portrait of an unidentified African-American sailor; and some individual and group shots of African-American sailors and ship stewards, possibly from different crews (ca. 1911-1914). Images of daily military life depict both black and white crewmen, including views of food preparation and clean up after meals; crews at morning exercise and swimming; cleaning the ship's guns and deck; laundry detail; undergoing baggage inspection; and taking on ammunition and supplies. A group of images depicts the crew of the U.S.S. Arkansas involved in recreational activities, including a Washington's Birthday pie eating contest, and a band concert and dancing (n.d.). In some images, black and white crew members appear to be working or participating together, though at one bag inspection it appears that black and white sailors line-up separately.
Also depicted are views of a gunnery inspection and demonstration, conducted by the battleships U.S.S. Deleware and U.S.S. Arkansas (1913), which include candid shots of Navy Rear Admiral Cameron McRae Winslow, and Commander William A. Moffett and Captain Roy C. Smith of the U.S.S. Arkansas. Also shown is a group portrait of the partially integrated No. 4 Turret and Crew of the Arkansas.
Depictions of Naval missions include two significant tours of the U.S.S. Arkansas: to the Panama Canal Zone in 1912 and Veracruz, Mexico, 1914. The Panama trip includes views of United States President William Howard Taft boarding the Arkansas for a visit to Panama (1912); some views of Panama City, Gorgona, and Cristobal, the last of which had a massive fire; a shot of a train ride through the Panamanian jungle; views of the administrative buildings and the under-construction Gatun Locks at Gatun; and views of the Culebra Cut, later renamed the Gaillard Cut.
Views of the American invasion and occupation of Veracruz, Mexico (1914) include the Atlantic Fleet heading towards Veracruz; sailors preparing for landing; group shots of black sailors who took part in the landing force; Mexican sharpshooters preparing to engage the "Gringos"; American troops standing over the bodies of dead Mexican forces; street scenes of Veracruz; American troops with the local inhabitants; and American troops engaging in Fourth of July sporting events, including an American Fleet baseball championship won by the team of the U.S.S. Arkansas. In these images, the troops appear to be segregated. Also depicted is a group shot of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, with his family and an aide.
The remainder of the collection depicts sailors at the military camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as the sailing competition for the Battenburg Cup, won by the U.S.S. Missouri, at Guantánamo (1912); views of Italy and American and Dutch sailors during a U.S.S. Arkansas stop over in Italy (ca. 1912); views of U.S. Naval yards in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Boston, and ships under construction or under sail, including the Arkansas, Michigan, and Missouri (ca. 1912); and some views of the Atlantic Fleet at sea.
Biographical/historical: Albert Victor Johnson was an African-American sailor who served on the battleship, U.S.S. Arkansas, from about 1912 to 1915. He was serving when the Arkansas took President William H. Taft to Panama in 1912, and when the American Fleet occupied the Mexican port of Veracruz to halt arms shipments to General Victoriano Huerta in 1914.
Extent: 135 items (. 3 lin. ft., 1 box) 126 photographic postcards : silver gelatin, b ; 9 x 14 cm. 8 photographic postcards : silver gelatin, b ; 14 x 9 cm. 1 photographic print : silver gelatin, b ; 10 x 14 cm.