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Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

Helen Tripi Diary, 1937: Finding Aid

Published in October 2008

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 390
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Helen Tripi Diary
  • Dates: 1937
  • Size: 0.27 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 35 folders containing 116 items
  • Creator: Tripi, Helen
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Helen Tripi Diary 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.

Biography of Helen Tripi

Helen Tripi was the wife of Lieutenant Ignatius Nicholas "Nikky" Tripi (United States Naval Academy Class of 1931), 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.

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Description of Contents

The Helen Tripi Diary, comprising 0.27 linear feet 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.

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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.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum Rare Manuscripts and Archives in May 2006. Accession No. 07-38.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Helen Tripi's husband, Ignatius Nicholas Tripi, can be found in his Alumni Jacket in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Helen Tripi Diary, MS 390

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in October 2008. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in October 2008.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • China -- Social Life and Customs
  • Navy Spouses
  • Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945
  • Tripi, Helen

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts
  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Diary of Helen Tripi, 1937

Box 1 Folder 2

Diary Inserts, 1937 January 16

Box 1 Folder 3

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 13

Box 1 Folder 4

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 19

Box 1 Folder 5

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 20

Box 1 Folder 6

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 21

Box 1 Folder 7

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 22

Box 1 Folder 8

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 25

Box 1 Folder 9

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 26

Box 1 Folder 10

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 28

Box 1 Folder 11

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 29

Box 1 Folder 12

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 30

Box 1 Folder 13

Diary Inserts, 1937 August 31

Box 1 Folder 14

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 1

Box 1 Folder 15

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 6

Box 1 Folder 16

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 7

Box 1 Folder 17

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 8

Box 1 Folder 18

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 9

Box 1 Folder 19

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 10

Box 1 Folder 20

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 11

Box 1 Folder 21

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 12

Box 1 Folder 22

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 13

Box 1 Folder 23

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 14

Box 1 Folder 24

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 15

Box 1 Folder 25

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 16

Box 1 Folder 26

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 17

Box 1 Folder 27

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 18

Box 1 Folder 28

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 19

Box 1 Folder 29

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 20

Box 1 Folder 30

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 21

Box 1 Folder 31

Diary Inserts, 1937 September 22

Box 1 Folder 32

Letters Received by Helen Tripi, 1937 August-September, undated

Box 1 Folder 33

News Clippings (Loose), 1937 August-September

Box 1 Folder 34

Numerical Translation Table, undated

Box 1 Folder 35

Photograph [U.S.S. Tulsa Officers], undated

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