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The Isabel myth, 1986 (approximate): Finding Aid

Published in April 2019

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 496
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: The Isabel myth
  • Dates: 1986 (approximate)
  • Size: 0.06 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 11 folders
  • Creator: Jayne, Sears Reynolds, 1920-
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Sears Reynolds Jayne was a scholar of English Renaissance literature and an officer in the United States Navy Reserve during World War II. The Isabel Myth, comprising a single typescript, was written in approximately 1986 by Sears Jayne. The manuscript focuses on Jayne's duty aboard, and assignments of U.S.S. Isabel during and after the closing months of World War II in the Pacific.

Biography of Sears R. Jayne

Sears Reynolds Jayne, born in 1920 was a scholar of English Renaissance literature. Twice graduating from the University of Missouri in Columbia (B.A. in 1941 and M.A. in 1942), Jayne served in the United States Navy Reserves during World War II. Among other duties, he was attached to U.S.S. Isabel from April 1945 through the end of the War, first as navigator and later as Isabel's final commanding officer.

Following the War, Jayne attended Yale University, receiving a Ph.D. in 1948. Embarking upon a career teaching English literature, Jayne held faculty positions at the University of California, Berkeley (1948-56); the University of Virginia at Charlottesville (1956-59); Claremont Graduate School (1959-60); Pomona College (1959-62); and City University of New York's Queens College (1963-69). In 1969, he joined the faculty of Brown University, retiring in 1981 as Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Jayne published extensively on the role of Plato in English literature, and was twice awarded Guggenheim Fellowships, as well as a Fulbright and ACLS Fellowship. Sears Reynolds Jayne died on April 11, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Description of Contents

The Isabel Myth, comprising a single typescript, was written in approximately 1986 by Sears Jayne. The manuscript focuses on Jayne's duty aboard, and assignments of U.S.S. Isabel during and after the closing months of World War II in the Pacific.

The Isabel Myth is primarily a memoir of Jayne's service aboard U.S.S. Isabel as navigator, and later, commanding officer. Jayne recounts anecdotes about the officers and enlisted crew of the Isabel, the ship's duties as a submarine target trainer out of Fremantle, her return across the Pacific to San Francisco following the Japanese surrender, and the Isabel's decommissioning under Jayne's command. Jayne also discusses the ship's construction, design, and service history, as well as combating two purported myths surrounding the Isabel: that the ship was cursed to never return to the United States and that she, along with the Lanikai were dispatched by President Roosevelt to act as bait to the Japanese Navy and thus, as a casus belli.

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The Isabel Myth is arranged into 9 chapters, followed by a glossary and bibliography.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Isabel Myth 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

Gift of Sears R. Jayne in October 1989. Accession No. 89-36.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Typescripts of other Sears Jayne manuscripts may be found at the Huntington Library and the Stanford University Libraries.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

The Isabel myth, MS 496

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

"Sears Reynolds Jayne (1920-2015)" John Solomon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2015).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in April 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2019.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Isabel (Patrol yacht: PY-10)
  • Jayne, Sears Reynolds, 1920-
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Pacific Ocean
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Title Page and Table of Contents, undated

Box 1 Folder 2

Chapter 1: The Myth, undated

Jayne's transfer to U.S.S. Isabel in April 1945, transit to the Pacific aboard U.S.S. Bullock (Cargo ship: AK-165), crossing-the-line ceremonies, layover at Manus, daily life in Brisbane, arrival aboard U.S.S. Isabel at Fremantle, and the myth that the Isabel was exiled to never return to the United States. Includes a chart showing Jayne's courses around Australia.

Box 1 Folder 3

Chapter 2: The Ship, undated

Description of U.S.S. Isabel, idiosyncrasies of the ship owing to her construction as a private yacht, the December 1941 Japanese bombings of the Philippines, the February 1942 evacuation of Surabaya, and losses incurred by the American-British-Dutch-Australian Fleet. Includes a diagram of the U.S.S. Isabel's layout and a chart of her December 1941 route from Manila to Surabaya.

Box 1 Folder 4

Chapter 3: The Crew, undated

Duty and stories related from censoring enlisted mail. Includes the transcript of a letter from a seaman from Harlem, the habit of crew members keeping Australian wives, and the Isabel colliding with a fishing boat.

Box 1 Folder 5

Chapter 4: The Duty, undated

Torpedo training with U.S. submarines, damage incurred to Isabel due to a faulty torpedo, and incidents resulting from an inexperienced new commanding officer, including damaging a docked ship and a near collision with a British battleship.

Box 1 Folder 6

Chapter 6: The Peace, undated

Seeking respite at the University of Western Australia's library, celebrations in Australia following the Japanese surrender, and orders for Isabel to proceed to Subic Bay in company with U.S.S. SC 741.

Box 1 Folder 7

Chapter 6: The Return, undated

The wreckage of the city of Darwin, layover at Thursday Island, visiting native New Guinea villages while at Port Moresby, preparations at Manus to return to the U.S., Jayne's reliance on celestial navigation for the return trip, layover at Pearl Harbor, and return to San Francisco. Includes charts for the Isabel's voyage from Manus to Johnston and Johnston to San Francisco.

Box 1 Folder 8

Chapter 7: The End, undated

Jayne's assumption of command of Isabel for her decommissioning, remaining aboard to keep the ship pumped out, relief of command pending Isabel's disposal, and return to University of Missouri to teach English.

Box 1 Folder 9

Chapter 8: The Truth, undated

History of U.S.S. Isabel, including her construction and duties escorting the NC-4, on the Yangtze Patrol, performing reconnaissance on the Japanese fleet off Indo-China in 1941, and her encounters with the Lanikai. Includes a chart showing Isabel's reconnaissance missions to Indo-China.

Box 1 Folder 10

Chapter 9: The Point, undated

Jayne's rejection of assertions by certain historians, including Kemp Tolley, that the Isabel and Lanikai were dispatched as to bait the Japanese Navy into attacking as a pretext for the U.S. entering World War II.

Box 1 Folder 11

Glossary and Bibliography, undated

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