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John Jennings Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Jennings, John, 1906-1973.
Title: John Jennings Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1938 (circa)-1963
Quantity: 3.0 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American novelist (primarily historical fiction). Also used pseudonyms Bates Baldwin and Joel Williams. Collection includes original typescript novels with revisions, including an unpublished first effort, Sirocco, as well as thirteen other novels. Typescript of one work of non-fiction, Our American tropics.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

John Edward Jennings (1906-1973) was an American historical novelist and author of numerous nautical works. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his sea-going experience began at the age of 19 when he worked as a mate on a tramp steamer. He later studied engineeering and literature at Columbia University and graduated from the Washington Diplomatic and Consular Institute. During World War II he achieved the rank of lieutenant commander and was head of the Naval Aviation History Unit.

Jennings began his writing career with short stories, articles, and travel narratives; his first novel, Next to Valor, was published in 1939 and proved very popular, being translated into seven languages. His books were noted for their attention to nautical and historical detail and thirteen were best-sellers.

His historical fiction includes The Coasts of Folly (1942), written under the pseudonym Joel Williams; The Sea Eagles (1950), set during the early days of the U.S. Navy; Banners Against the Wind (1954), about abolitionist and physician Samuel Gridley Howe; and The Raider (1963), chronicling the adventures of a World War II German naval vessel. His non-fiction includes the young-adult history Clipper Ship Days (1952) and Tattered Ensign (1966), about "Old Ironsides" (the USS Constitution) and the early American navy.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from the article "Jennings, John Edward, Jr." in Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes, edited by Jill B. Gidmark (Greenwood Press, 2000).]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Jennings Papers consists entirely of his writings in manuscript form; some items are accompanied by related correspondence.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Both Rare Books and the regular circulating collection have copies of Jennings' novels and non-fiction. Please search the Classic Catalog for more information.

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Subject Headings


Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Chronicle of the Calypso clipper.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Coasts of folly.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Gentleman ranker.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Manuscripts.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Our American tropics.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Raider.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- River to the West.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Rogue's yarn.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Salem frigate.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Sea eagles.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Shadows in the dusk.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Sirocco.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Strange brigade.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Sultan's warrior.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Tall ships.
Jennings, John, 1906-1973 -- Tattered ensign.


American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American.
Novelists, American.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts for publication.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Jennings Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of John E. Jennings, 1965, 1967.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: --
Date: ca. 1965
Revision history: 3 Jul 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC)

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Box 1 Candy Kid (published 1955) - various versions, also related correspondence
Box 1 Chronicle of the Calypso Clipper (published 1955)
Box 1 The Coasts of Folly (published 1942) - as Joel Williams; first published as Where Angels Fear to Tread
Box 1 Gentleman Ranker (published 1942) - Parts I and II
Box 1 Our American Tropics (published 1938)
Box 1 The Raider (published 1963)
Box 1 River to the West (published 1948) - published version
Box 2 River to the West - Parts I and II, original version
Box 2 Rogue's Yarn (published 1953)
Box 2 The Salem Frigate (published 1946)
Box 2 The Sea Eagles (published 1950)
Box 3 Shadows in the Dusk (published 1955)
Box 3 Sirocco (unpublished)
Box 3 The Strange Brigade (published 1952)
Box 3 The Sultan's Warrior - as Bates Baldwin; original and revised versions
Box 3 The Tall Ships (published 1958) - original version
Box 3 Tattered Ensign (published 1966)

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