Helen Tripi Diary Cover, 1937.
Helen Tripi Diary Cover, 1937.

Guide to the Helen Tripi Diary, 1937

MS 390

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onfrio

October 2008

Descriptive Summary

Purchase. Accession No. 07-38.
3 linear inches.
Access to the Helen Tripi Diary is unrestricted.
The Helen Tripi Diary is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Helen Tripi Diary, MS 390
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Helen Tripi was the wife of Lieutenant Ignatius Nicholas "Nikky" Tripi, assistant paymaster aboard the U.S.S. Tulsa, which was on station with the United States Asiatic Fleet as part of the South China Patrol. Helen Tripi, along with several other Navy wives, resided in China until shortly after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in July 1937, ultimately moving to Manila in September 1937. Tripi's travels throughout China included visits to Hong Kong, Chefoo (now Yantai), Peking (now Beijing), and Shanghai.

Scope and Content Note

The Helen Tripi Diary, comprising three linear inches of documentation, spans from January to September 1937, with the bulk of the diary entries beginning in July. The diary focuses on the outbreak of hostilities between China and Japan following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 1937, as well as Tripi's travels throughout China.

The collection consists of a diary and items originally inserted within the diary's pages, including news clippings (including the ship's paper from U.S.S. Canopus), incoming letters, a photograph, and a hand-written table translating Arabic numerals into Chinese.

The collection is arranged alphabetically by document type. The diary itself is arranged chronologically. Prior to July 1937, the diary consists primarily of descriptions of Tripi's travels throughout China, including stops in Hong Kong, Chefoo (now Yantai) and Shanghai. The entries of January 1937 are devoted to descriptions of Hong Kong, as well as discussions of Chinese medicine, legends and toys. Following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in July, the descriptions of Tripi's travels become interspersed with entries regarding the state of hostilities, including the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (July 12), bombing of Shanghai (August 12-20), accusations against the Chinese concerning the use of germ warfare (September 11), and the Chinese withdrawal from Shanghai (September 13), as well as a lengthy entry regarding Japanese aggression, manufacturing capabilities, and perceived inability to engage in a protracted war (July 20-26). Starting on August 13, diary entries are typically accompanied by news clippings from outlets such as the Shanghai Times, China Mail, and the ship's paper of the U.S.S. Canopus.

The collection also includes four letters received by Helen Tripi, three of which are from Tripi's husband, Lieutenant Ignatius Nicholas "Nikky" Tripi. Spanning from August to September, the letters include brief discussions of Lieutenant Tripi's duties aboard U.S.S. Tulsa, the bombing of Shanghai, instructions to stay in Tsingtao, and Helen Tripi's evacuation from China to Manila.

Research interests served by the Helen Tripi Diary include the lifestyle of Navy wives living overseas, and firsthand accounts and candid opinions of China at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War and of Japan's aspirations and capabilities leading up to World War II.

Arrangement Note

All of the material in the collection was originally folded and inserted in the diary. Folders labeled as diary inserts contain photocopies of news clippings that were originally folded and attached to specific diary entries. The clippings have been removed and photocopied for preservation purposes, and have been filed according to the diary entry to which they were attached. The remainder of the material in the collection was found folded inside the front cover of the diary.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Diary of Helen Tripi, 1937
2 Diary Inserts, January 16, 1937
3 Diary Inserts, August 13, 1937
4 Diary Inserts, August 19, 1937
5 Diary Inserts, August 20, 1937
6 Diary Inserts, August 21, 1937
7 Diary Inserts, August 22, 1937
8 Diary Inserts, August 25, 1937
9 Diary Inserts, August 26, 1937
10 Diary Inserts, August 28, 1937
11 Diary Inserts, August 29, 1937
12 Diary Inserts, August 30, 1937
13 Diary Inserts, August 31 1937
14 Diary Inserts, September 1, 1937
15 Diary Inserts, September 6, 1937
16 Diary Inserts, September 7, 1937
17 Diary Inserts, September 8, 1937
18 Diary Inserts, September 9, 1937
19 Diary Inserts, September 10, 1937
20 Diary Inserts, September 11, 1937
21 Diary Inserts, September 12, 1937
22 Diary Inserts, September 13, 1937
23 Diary Inserts, September 14, 1937
24 Diary Inserts, September 15, 1937
25 Diary Inserts, September 16, 1937
26 Diary Inserts, September 17, 1937
27 Diary Inserts, September 18, 1937
28 Diary Inserts, September 19, 1937
29 Diary Inserts, September 20, 1937
30 Diary Inserts, September 21, 1937
31 Diary Inserts, September 22, 1937
32 Letters Received by Helen Tripi, August-September 1937 and undated
33 News Clippings (Loose), August-September 1937
34 Numerical Translation Table, undated
35 Photograph [U.S.S. Tulsa Officers], undated