Admiral Harold R. Stark Collection, 1923-1972
Scope and Content
This collection is divided into three separate series, with smaller subseries found within to aid in the organization of the different topics and content. With his position as both an Admiral in the United States Navy and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Wilkes College, he was involved with overseeing many important events and issues both on Wilkes’ campus as well as different operations during World War II.
The first series, Series I: Wilkes Affiliation, 1935-1972, contains a variety of institutional records that Harold Stark received when he was the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Wilkes College from 1959 to 1964 and became honorary chairman from 1963 until his passing in 1972. This series contains institutional records such as academic and administrative committee meeting memorandums, various speeches at Wilkes College events, budget and donation records, Wilkes College development pamphlets and booklets, correspondence between Stark and Wilkes College administrators and external individuals, and publications concerning Wilkes College. Some notable documents involve significant historical figures that Stark knew during his military service, specifically letter exchanges between Winston S. Churchill and President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the creation of the Stark Learning Center in 1957. The correspondence within this series concerns Wilkes College compared to correspondence found within Series III: Military Career, 1923-1957. This series is arranged into seven subseries: Subseries I: Board of Trustees Committee Meetings, 1955-1965, Subseries II: Wilkes College Finances, 1935-1967, Subseries III: Speeches at Events, 1941-1964, Subseries IV: Wilkes College Development, 1933-1972, Subseries V: Correspondence, 1942-1972, and Subseries VI: Publications, 1956-1968, and Subseries VII: Oral History transcript. Subseries I is restricted for the next 80 years from the date of creation.
The second series, Series II: Newspapers, 1956-1966, contains newspaper clippings and articles that mention Harold Stark and his involvement with Wilkes College development. These articles are from local Wilkes Barre newspapers, and cover a ten year period from 1956 through 1966.
The third series, Series III: Military Career, 1923-1957, are files and photographs that document Harold Stark’s service in the United States Navy. This series contains photographs with handwritten signatures of people he served with both in World War I and World War II, navy ships, and portraits of prominent individuals with handwritten signatures including Queen Elizabeth II, Former U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill, Former President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Former President of France Charles de Gaulle. Additionally, this series contains notable awards Stark earned during his time in the navy at the end of World War II, such as honorary titles from both Britain and Norway in 1945 as well as World War II correspondence.
- Other: 1923-1972
- Admiral Harold R. Stark (Person)
Biographical Sketch of Harold R. Stark
In the 1930s, Roosevelt promoted Stark to Captain in the Navy. This started his service in Washington D.C. as the Naval Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, and eventually as Chief of the Bureau of Ordinance where he spent his time learning to better organize and structure the navy. During this time he also had shown his natural ability of being a successful diplomat, and this particular skill became a highlight of his career. All of the attributes and experience he had gained up until this point lead to him being promoted to the Chief of Naval Operations in 1939, and he now held the title of Admiral. His new position came about during the beginning stages of World War II which became a race to expand the navy between the years 1940-1941 in case the United States joined the war. Stark would later take over as the commander of the U.S. forces in Europe, and step down from his position as Chief of Naval Operations in March 1942 following a controversial miscommunication that some say led to the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He spent the remainder of his time during the war aiding the British and French forces in Europe until the end of the war. After World War II he served in Washington DC from 1945 to 1946 until he retired from the navy and settled down in the area after his retirement.
While Harold Stark’s career is recognized through his service in the Navy, he was also involved as a Board of Trustees member of Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, his hometown, and eventually became Chairman of the Board in 1959 to 1964. He was honorary Chairman from 1964 until his passing in 1972. One of Stark’s major contributions to Bucknell University Junior College, which later became Wilkes College, was the donation of a house he inherited from his sister Ellen Chase and her husband Fred Chase on South River Street. Not knowing what to do with the property and not looking to make money off of it he decided to donate it to BUJC, where it became Chase Hall on February 1, 1937. Stark eventually became a member of the Board of Trustees, and helped Eugene S. Farley and other members with various tasks and projects to improve the campus. In 1956, Stark along with Arnaud Marts and Gilbert McClintock increased the endowment for the college. One notable example of Stark’s contribution on the board was donating a million dollars to finance the construction of Stark Hall, now the Stark Learning Center. Stark was able to help the campus acquire the property by calling up an old friend from his childhood who worked for the Dupont Company. Stark’s influence led to the purchase of the property for Wilkes College and the construction of the new building in 1957. When asked in an interview in 1967 about what he had contributed to Wilkes, he said “I was grateful that I could do something- I never thought of it until it was mentioned and I was asked, but I was grateful for the opportunity (again it comes back to Gene Farley after I got to know him, but not too well, it was in the early days) but grateful that I had the opportunity because I enjoyed the people he had selected.”
Harold Stark remained an active naval advisor in Washington D.C. during his retirement until his death on August 20th, 1972 at the age of 91. He was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and was an influential and strong leader in many different ways during his lifetime from the dark, uncertain times the United States fought in World War II, through the early, emerging years of Wilkes University.
https://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/literary-cultural-heritage-map-pa/bios/Stark__Harold https://www.citizensvoice.com/lifestyles/community/admiral-stark-a-legacy-to-be-honored-revered/article_33582bb2-9a4e-5479-9c21-2e0dc655a910.html https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-people/s/stark-harold-r.html
“Interview in the Autumn of 1967” PDF https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6750619/harold-raynsford-stark https://www.wilkes.edu/about-wilkes/history/1953.aspx https://www.wilkes.edu/about-wilkes/campus/buildings-academic-administrative/chase-hall.aspx https://ww2gravestone.com/people/stark-harold-raynsford-betty/
0.00 Linear Feet (14 boxes (3 oversized print boxes, 4 flag boxes, 4 letter boxes, 1 legal box, 1 letter halfsized box, 1 object box) )
Language of Materials
Subseries I: Board of Trustees Committee Meetings, 1955-1965
Subseries II: Wilkes College Finances, 1935-1967
Subseries III: Speeches at Events, 1941-1964
Subseries IV: Wilkes College Development, 1933-1972
Subseries V: Correspondence, 1942-1972
Subseries VI: Publications, 1956-1968
Series II: Newspapers, 1956-1966
Series III: Military Career, 1923-1957
Subseries VII: Oral History transcript, 1967 Autumn
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- Other Unmapped
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