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Admiral Harold R. Stark Collection, 1923-1972

 Collection
Identifier: 50-02-001

Scope and Content

The Harold Stark Collection, 1923- 1972, contains paper material such as letters, pamphlets, reports, newspaper clippings, records, documents, booklets, memos, and photographs. This collection also contains physical items such as flags, ribbons, and canes once owned or related to Harold Stark’s legacy. All of these different items and papers highlight two impactful parts of his life: the first was his military service during World War I and World War II, and the second was his role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Wilkes College from1959 to 1964. This collection spans from 1923-1972, demonstrating Stark’s contribution in serving every aspect of the United States from the local to the national level.

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.

Dates

  • Other: 1923-1972

Creator

Access:

Open for Research. Subseries I: Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes is restricted for 80 years from the creation date.

Biographical Sketch of Harold R. Stark

Harold Rainsford Stark’s name is well-known in the Wilkes-Barre area for his involvement with Wilkes University and through his extensive military service, contributing both his time and efforts into serving every aspect of the United States from the local to the national level. He was born on November 12th, 1880 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and later in life as a young man left to join the United States Naval Academy in 1899. While he was a plebe in the Naval Academy he was given the nickname “Betty” in reference to Elizabeth Page Stark, the wife of Revolutionary War General John Stark, who was being commemorated at the time. He graduated from the academy in 1903, and spent the next twenty five years performing various tasks for the navy. Some of Stark’s early years consisted of commanding various navy vessels, serving in World War I, gaining experience on how to handle enemy submarine tactics, and even befriending Assistant Secretary of the Navy and future president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt while escorting him on his ship.

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.
References:

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/

Extent

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

English

Acquisition:

The Harold R. Stark Collection was most likely donated to Wilkes College’s Farley Library in 1968 when the new Eugene S. Farley library opened and the Harold R. Stark Collection Room was built. His remaining Board of Trustees papers would likely have been donated after his passing in 1972. In 1937, Stark donated his homestead, which was initially owned by Fred M. Chase and his wife, Stark’s sister, to Wilkes College. It is now known today as Chase Hall at 184 South River Street.

Provenance:

It is highly likely that the Harold R. Stark Collection was donated to Wilkes College in 1968 when the Harold Stark Room was built along with the other special collection rooms such as the Farley Room, McClintock Room, and Polish Room, on June 10th, 1968 at the opening of the new Eugene S. Farley Library. A newspaper article discussing the plans for the opening of the library includes information regarding Stark’s “Pearl Harbor papers, together with Admiral Stark’s portrait, his desk, and flags.” It is more than likely that Stark’s Board of Trustees papers were donated after his passing in 1972. Stark was Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1959-1964, and was honorary chairman from 1964 until 1972.

Condition:

Overall the documents and items in this collection are in good condition. However late nineteenth century and early twentieth century documents, newspaper clippings, photographs and letters should be handled with care, as they are more fragile and prone to damage and deterioration due to their age. For the physical items, the crook handle for Harold Stark’s wooden cane has a crack that stretches around the top where the hand would grip the cane, and should be handled with care.

Copyright Status:

Wilkes University retains copyright of the Wilkes produced materials within the Stark collection. The military career materials such as correspondence and signatures from significant historical figures, copyright remains with creators.
Cite As: [item], folder, box, Harold R. Stark Collection. Wilkes University Archives, Wilkes University. Digital URL if item is digitized. Date accessed.

Processed By:

Processed by: Nick Chupela, Archives Work Study, edited and supervised by Suzanna Calev, Archivist, Spring 2021. The collection was digitized by Archives Work Study John Jenkins in summer 2021.

Subseries I: Board of Trustees Committee Meetings, 1955-1965

Subseries I: Board of Trustees Committee Meetings, 1955-1965 is arranged chronologically by date and contains documents such as memorandums and reports that discuss different committees and their respective meetings from 1955 to 1965. It includes a wide range of different committees, such as the Board of Trustees, Building and Grounds, Financial, McClintock Memorial, and Instruction to name a few.

Subseries II: Wilkes College Finances, 1935-1967

Subseries II: Wilkes College Finances, 1935-1967 is arranged chronologically by date and contains financial information from reports, letters, portfolios, and records ranging from 1935 to 1967. It includes documents that involve Wilkes budget, annual appeal to donors, information on donating, appraisal investments, and grants.

Subseries III: Speeches at Events, 1941-1964

Subseries III: Speeches at Events, 1941-1964 is arranged chronologically by date and contains records of speeches given at different events in the forms of manuscripts and letters from 1941 to 1964. It covers addresses given by people ranging from College programs at Wilkes and other institutions, annual meetings of different trade associations and companies, and events aimed towards audiences consisting of children.

Subseries IV: Wilkes College Development, 1933-1972

Subseries IV: Wilkes College Development, 1933-1972 is arranged chronologically by date and contains many different types of documents such as booklets, pamphlets, reports, letters, papers, magazines, plans, memorandums, packets, involved in improving and expanding different aspects of Wilkes from 1933 to 1972. These documents cover the construction of new buildings on campus, plans that seek to expand certain academic programs, reading materials on the importances of receiving an education, and booklets and pamphlets aimed towards prospective students for Wilkes.

Subseries V: Correspondence, 1942-1972

Subseries V: Correspondence, 1942-1972 is arranged chronologically by date and contains letters and notes sent between different people involved with Wilkes and who are unaffiliated from 1942 to 1972. The letters and notes sent between each correspondent are involved in some facet of Wilkes, either through discussion of an event that took place or future plans.

Subseries VI: Publications, 1956-1968

Subseries VI: Publications, 1956-1968 is arranged chronologically by date and contains booklets, journals, pamphlets, and certificates of random publications from 1956 to 1968. These publications range from having people affiliated with Wilkes as authors, local companies, and nationally recognized works.

Series II: Newspapers, 1956-1966

Series II: Newspapers, 1956-1966 contains newspaper clippings and articles that mention Harold Stark and his involvement with Wilkes College over a ten year period from 1956 through 1966. These articles are from local Wilkes Barre newspapers and cover different subjects such as development of buildings, Harold Stark’s role at Wilkes, and the discussion about the campus in general.

Series III: Military Career, 1923-1957

Series III: Military Career, 1923-1957 is a wide range of photographs and other documents that present to us Harold Stark’s service in the United States Navy from 1923 to 1957. It includes 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. Also found within these files are 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.

Subseries VII: Oral History transcript, 1967 Autumn

Subseries VII: Oral History transcript of Harold Stark was conducted by Wilkes English alumni and faculty member in the Autumn of 1967.
Description rules
Other Unmapped
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Undetermined
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Repository Details

Part of the Wilkes University Archives Repository

Contact:
84 W South St.
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701 US
570-408-2000
570-408-7823 (Fax)