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James Stewart McDermott papers

Call Number: MS 1073

Scope and Contents

The James Stewart McDermott Papers consist almost entirely of letters that McDermott wrote to his mother and sister from Yale College (1938 Sep-1942 Apr), Quantico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. (1942 May-1944 Jan), Camp Pendleton (1944 Mar-Sep), and various unspecified locations in the Pacific (1944 Sep-1945 Feb). Besides many observations about ordinary events at Yale and in the Marine Corps, there are accounts of conversations with Maury Maverick, U.S. Representative from Texas, and James Grafton Rogers, deputy director of the Office of Strategic Services, and descriptions of social life in wartime Washington.


  • 1938-1945


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Katharine Stewart McDermott, 1945-1946.


0.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of letters written by James Stewart McDermott to his family and friends, describing his life at Yale College and in the Marine Corps. His wartime letters were written from Quantico, Virginia; Washington, D.C; Camp Pendleton; and unspecified locations in the Pacific, until his death on Iwo Jima. The papers also include a few newspaper clippings and other items.

Biographical / Historical

James Stewart McDermott, B.A. 1942.

Born February 15, 1921, in Topeka, Kans.; Died March 2, 1945, on Iwo Jima.

Father, George Thomas McDermott (Ph.B. Univ. Chicago 1908, J.D. 1910), judge 10th Judicial Circuit, U.S. Circuit Court, Topeka; son of James and Tirzah (Henderson) McDermott of Winfield, Kans. Mother, Katharine (Stewart) McDermott (Washburn Coll. ex-'17); daughter of James Harvey and Kate (Martin) Stewart of Wichita, Kans.

Topeka High School. Scholar of the second rank Freshman and Junior years; high oration appointment Senior year; Freshman Swimming Squad; member Timothy Dwight College (football team Sophomore year; Senior aide) and Phi Beta Kappa. Member Grace Cathedral (Episcopal), Topeka. Unmarried.

Enlisted in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve March 5, 1942; enrolled in Candidates Class, Quantico, May-July, and Reserve Officers Class July 18-September 26, 1942; commissioned Second Lieutenant, Marine Corps Reserve, July 18, 1942, and Second Lieutenant, Marine Corps, September 26, 1942; promoted First Lieutenant April 12, 1943, and Captain August, 1944; at Training Center, Fleet Marine Force, Marine Barracks, New River, N.C., taking field artillery course November 19-December 8, 1942; stationed at Quantico as artillery, motor transport, and matérial [ sic] instructor until February, 1944 (rewrote a number of instruction pamphlets and wrote several instruction books for classroom use); stationed at Camp Pendleton February, 1944, until sent overseas in September, 1944; commanding officer of a battery, 13th Regiment, 5th Marine Division, stationed at a Pacific island base; took part in invasion of Iwo Jima in February, 1945.

Captain McDermott was fatally wounded while on reconnaissance on Iwo Jima. Buried in 5thMarine Division Cemetery on that island. Posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Survived by mother, maternal grandmother, and two sisters, Jane McDermott Hergenreter (B.A. Stanford Univ. 1937), the wife of Capt. William Hergenreter, A.U.S. (B.A. Washburn Coll. 1940), and Mary Katharine McDermott Shideler (B.A. Swarthmore Coll. 1938), the wife of Rev. Emerson Wayne Shideler (B.A. Univ. Pittsburgh 1937; B.D. Chicago Theological Seminary 1940) of Russell, Kans.

(Taken from Yale University Obituary Record, 1943-45, pp. 198-199).

Guide to the James Stewart McDermott Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Grigg
February 1980
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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