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Home > February 2015 > Detective Work at the Intrepid Museum
Detective Work at the Intrepid Museum
Posted: 2/20/2015 3:05:44 PM

P2011.93.09 Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Mary Judith Robinson, daughter of E.K. Robinson, M.D.

What can you tell someone about this photograph, just by looking at it? Based on the uniforms of the men, you may be able to deduce that it was taken on board a U.S. Navy ship. Given the scoreboard in the background, you might infer that the ship was fighting in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. With the amount of space in the photograph, noting both the deck in the foreground and the structure behind the men, you may even be able to figure out that the photograph was taken on board an aircraft carrier. 

Now let’s look at a copy of the same photograph, provided by a different donor.           


P2014.130 Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of the family of Raymond Luther Maness.

Even with just three new pieces of information—the handwritten “U.S.S. Intrepid,” “‘H’ Division” and “22 June, 1944”—we are able to place these men in space and time and learn a little bit about their role on the ship (the H Division on board Intrepid was the Medical Department). At the time this photo was taken, some of Intrepid’s toughest days were still ahead, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

The Museum also has items from Howard F. Noble (first row, #4), E. F. Monnia (second row, #3) and Ernest Kip Robinson (third row, #1).

The back of this second photograph contains the signatures of all the men in the division, including the donor’s father, Raymond Luther Maness, who can be seen in the first row on the left. From the other names on the back, we can identify three more individuals in the photograph with collections at the Museum, and we can link their collections together.


Each donation that comes into the Museum is highly personal—everyone saves different things to pass on to the next generation. The little bits of overlap in collections, like these two photographs, allow us to do detective work and build bridges between individuals. This idea became the basis for our temporary exhibition Objects in Conversation, which is open through June 8, 2015. Stop by to learn how our objects “talk” to one another and see more artifacts that have been reunited back on board the ship. 

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