Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

Joel Newsom Papers, 1917-1948: Finding Aid

Published in March 2014

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 255
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Joel Newsom Papers
  • Dates: 1917-1948
  • Size: 0.21 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 half-manuscript box
  • Creator: Newsom, Joel, 1898-1985
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Joel Newsom was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1921. The Newsom Papers focus on Newsom's finances as a midshipman and duty stations as an officer, including his command of the submarine tender U.S.S. Otus during the Japanese air raid on Cavite on December 10, 1941.

Biography of Joel Newsom

Captain Joel Newsom was born in Arkansas in 1898. He was admitted to the United States Naval Academy from Arkansas on July 21, 1917 and graduated as a member of the Class of 1921. Following graduation, Newsom was assigned to U.S.S. Texas (Battleship : BB-35). In May of 1924, he was ordered to U.S.S. Chewink (Minesweeper : AM-39) for instruction in submarines. Following submarine school, Newsom served aboard U.S.S. S-33 (Submarine : SS-138), as commanding officer of U.S.S. S-32 (Submarine : SS-137), and aboard U.S.S. Bonita (SS-165). Prior to World War II, he also served on the staff of the Naval ROTC program at the University of California, Berkeley.

At the outbreak of World War II, Newsom was in command of the submarine tender U.S.S. Otus (AS-20), which was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. On December 10, while anchored at Mariveles Harbor in the Philippines, Otus was damaged when several bombs landed near her starboard side during the Japanese air raid on the Cavite Navy Yard. After being ordered to leave the Philippines, Otus proceeded to Port Darwin, Australia, where she stayed until January 1942, when she steamed for Java and Trincomalee Harbor in Ceylon. On March 10, Otus returned to Australia, where she tended submarines at Fremantle until departing for the United States on July 25. After returning to Mare Island Navy Yard on August 24, Otus underwent an extensive overhaul.

Following the war, Newsom served with the NROTC unit at the University of New Mexico until his retirement from active service in 1947. In retirement, Newsom lived in Annapolis, Maryland from 1970 to 1977 and in Pensacola, Florida from 1977 until his death from pneumonia on July 6, 1985.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

The Joel Newsom Papers, comprising 0.21 linear feet of documentation, span the entirety of Newsom's U.S. Navy career, from 1917 to 1948. The Papers focus on Newsom's finances as a midshipman and duty stations as an officer, including his tour as the commanding officer of the submarine tender U.S.S. Otus, which served in the Pacific Theater during World War II in the Philippines, Australia, and Ceylon.

Included in the collection are a diary, orders, photographs, a logbook entry, a financial ledger, a press clipping, and a holiday card.

The first three items in the collection, including Newsom's diary, a typescript, and a logbook entry, pertain to Newsom's command of the U.S.S. Otus during the first seven months of World War II. The diary includes entries describing the Japanese air raid on the Cavite Navy Yard and resulting damage to Otus (December 10, 1941); conflict with Admiral Glassford over refueling at Balikpapan (December 13, 1941); damage and casualties aboard U.S.S. Sea Dragon (Submarine : S-194) (December 20, 1941); complaints over the distribution of information in the Chain of Command (December 22, 1941); complaints about and description of Darwin, Australia (December 28, 1941); criticism of Douglas MacArthur (January 1, 1942); appointment as Liaison Officer between the Navy and Army (January 6, 1942); further complaints about the amenities in Darwin (February 2, 1942); standing in to Tjilitjap, Java (February 10, 1942); arrival at and description of Trincomalee, Ceylon (February 21-26, 1942); evading Japanese ships and thoughts on Japanese strategy and supply lines (March 6, 1942); and increases in defenses at and description of Fremantle, as well as Otus's departure for the U.S. for overhaul (July 25, 1942). Included in the diary is a hand-drawn map of the Cavite Navy Yard showing Otus's position during the Japanese air raid. Accompanying the diary is a copy of the December 10, 1941 entry from U.S.S. Otus's logbook describing the Japanese attack on Cavite.

Three files in the collection consist of Newsom's official U.S. Navy orders, including orders to temporary duty, evaluations for promotion, and notification of promotions and commissions. Included with the orders are occasional fitness reports. A summary of comments from Newsom's fitness reports is filed separately. The collection is also home to several photographs, primarily group portraits of officers and crew members of U.S.S. Texas and U.S.S. Moffett, as well as the Naval Academy Class of 1921.

Back to Top


The Joel Newsom Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Joel Newsom Papers are 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.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of John R. Butler in September 1985 and January 1990. Accession No. 90-04.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Newsom's U.S. Navy career and time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy may be found in his Midshipman Personnel Jacket and Alumni Jacket in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Newsom's orders, photographs and pass book were previously processed and housed with the Alumni/Memorabilia section of the Naval Academy Archives until March 2014.

Preferred Citation

Joel Newsom Papers, MS 255

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in March 2014. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in March 2014. Newsom's diary originally processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1990.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Darwin (N.T.)
  • Navy-yards and naval stations -- Philippines -- Cavite
  • Newsom, Joel, 1898-1985
  • Otus (Submarine tender : AS-20)
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Pacific Ocean
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Philippines
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American

Genre Terms

  • Account books
  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Photographs
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Diary - Original, 1941-1942

Box 1 Folder 2

Diary - Typescript, 1941-1942

Box 1 Folder 3

Fitness Report Summaries, 1927-1944

Includes a fragment of a questionnaire filled out by Newsom.

Box 1 Folder 4

Logbook Entry - U.S.S. Otus, 1941 December 10

Official description of U.S.S. Otus in the Japanese attack on Cavite.

Box 1 Folder 5

Orders, 1921 May 12-1924 May 23

Box 1 Folder 6

Orders, 1925 January 7-1941 February 20

Box 1 Folder 7

Orders, 1941 March 7-1948 May 27, undated

Box 1 Folder 8

Pass Book, 1917-1921

Financial ledger of Newsom's accounts while a midshipman at the Naval Academy.

Box 1 Folder 9

Photographs, 1921, undated

Includes portraits of the officers and crew of U.S.S. Texas, U.S.S. Moffett and an unidentified Navy vessel, as well as the NROTC Officers at the University of New Mexico and a Naval Academy class, presumably the Class of 1921.

Box 1 Folder 10

Press Clipping, 1948

Announcement of Newsom's retirement from the Navy.

Box 1 Folder 11

Submarine Division Sixteen Christmas Card, undated

Back to Top