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Collection Number: 00259

Collection Title: Percy Wright Foote Papers, 1905-1961

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 600 items)
Abstract Career naval officer; aide to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, 1918-1921; commander of the U.S.S. "Arkansas," 1931-1933; senior inspector of shipyards in four states during World War II. Foote is best known for his heroic command of the U.S.S. "President Lincoln," which was torpedoed in 1918. The collection includes letters of commendation, writings, clippings, photographs, and other items, chiefly relating to Percy Wright Foote's activities in European waters during World War I. This collection is particularly rich in photographs relating to Foote's career in the Navy.
Creator Foote, Percy Wright, 1879-1961.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Percy Wright Foote Papers #259, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Percy Wright Foote of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1936, and from his daughter, Diana Foote Lawrence of Alexandria, Virginia, in 1988 (Accession # 88114).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Percy Wright Foote was born 13 August 1879 in Roaring River, Wilkes County, North Carolina, the son of James Henry Foote, a founder of Wake Forest College, and Susan Hunt Foote.

Foote, a 1901 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, saw his first action in the United States Navy as an ensign aboard the U.S.S. Baltimore , which had been sent to protect American interests in Shanghai in 1905. Foote was able to use his considerable organizational and technical skills to advance his naval career. He is particularly remembered for his heroic command of the U.S.S. President Lincoln, a troop transport that was torpedoed on 31 May 1918 and sank within eighteen minutes. Largely due to the emergency drills that Foote had initiated, only 28 of the 700 persons aboard the President Lincoln were lost. In recognition of his role in the President Lincoln incident, Foote received a special commendation from Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, the Silver Star for gallantry in action, and the Distinguished Service Medal.

From 1918 to 1921, Foote served as aide to Secretary Daniels, and, from 1931 to 1933, was commander of the battleship Arkansas, which was sent, during this period, to California to assist in the cleanup of earthquake torn Long Beach. He was chief of staff of the Fourth Naval District, headquartered at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, from 1934 to 1936. Due to certain technicalities, Foote's promotion to rear admiral was rejected by the Navy and won only through legislative action. It was, however, as rear admiral that he retired in 1936. At the request of Governor George H. Earle, Foote remained in Pennsylvania and spent the next two years lobbying for highway safety in that state. In 1938, he and his family returned to North Carolina to take up residence in Chapel Hill.

In May 1942, however, Foote was recalled to duty as senior inspector of the Eighth Naval District, covering Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. He retired for a second time after World War II, and settled in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he died on 23 June 1961.

Foote was married to Genevieve Clary of Great Falls, Montana, on 1 October 1910. His son Thomas also pursued a military career (in the Army), and his daughter Diana married a Marine Corps brigadier general.

(SOURCE: Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, volume 2, p. 217)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes letters of commendation, writings, clippings, photographs, and other items, chiefly relating to Percy Wright Foote's activities in European waters during World War I. This collection is particularly rich in photographs relating to Foote's career in the Navy.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1905-1944.

About 15 items.

Correspondence, including a 1920 commendation from Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy.

Folder 1

Correspondence #00259, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1905-1944." Folder 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Writings, 1943-1944.

About 15 items.

Speeches and other writings, chiefly on patriotic themes and wartime ship building.

Folder 2

Writings #00259, Series: "2. Writings, 1943-1944." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Items, 1918-1961.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Pictures, 1918-1944.

About 150 items.

Chiefly photographs that were removed from albums. Two albums have been preserved.

Image Folder PF-259/1

Photographs from album entitled "Early Years, Oriental Cruise, Gunnery Practice," circa 1905. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PF-259/1

Image Folder PF-259/2-3

PF-259/2

PF-259/3

Photographs from album presented to Foote by Doctor and Mrs. James Alexander Lyon at Annapolis, Maryland, 3 June 1931, showing various unidentified ships, naval officers, and parades. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PF-259/2-3

Image Folder PF-259/4

Photographs from album entitled "U.S.S. Arkansas, 1931-1932, San Diego,", including photographs of earthquake damage in Long Beach, California. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PF-259/4

Image Folder PF-259/5

Photographs from album entitled "Navy's 10,000th Higgins Boat, 1944." (A Higgins boat is a landing craft used in large scale troop transport.) Also includes official photographs of Foote. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PF-259/5

Image Folder PF-259/6

Miscellaneous photographs, including several of the U.S.S. President Lincoln and crew (1918) and an autographed photograph of Foote (1935). #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PF-259/6

Oversize Image OP-P-259

Photograph of annual dinner of the survivors of the U.S.S. President Lincoln, 31 May 1934. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." OP-P-259

Photograph Album PA-259/1

Album documenting European tour made by Foote as aide to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, March-May 1919. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PA-259/1

Photograph Album PA-259/2

Album covering Foote's activities as senior inspector for ship yards in Texas, 1942-1944. #00259, Series: "4. Pictures, 1918-1944." PA-259/2

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, December 1988

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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