The Samuel Milner Papers primarily contain research materials that Milner gathered for his uncompleted book project on the USS Houston (CA-30) and members of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery of the Texas National Guard. Some materials may not have been returned to research subjects prior to Milner's death. For inquiries about these items, please contact Special Collections.
The most notable materials in the collection are the interviews that Milner did in the 1950s with surviving crew members and unit members. These are probably the earliest interviews conducted with the men by a trained historian. Unfortunately the notes are all handwritten and Milner's handwriting is difficult to read. Many folders also contain copies of the military service records of the individuals. The original records are located in the Cruiser Houston Collection (1981-001).
The collection also contains photographs, articles, and research materials pertaining to the Houston, the Lost Battalion, and the war in the Pacific. The collection also contains completed chapters and drafts of The Undefeated. Additional materials deal with Milner's other publications, including Victory in Papua, and his professional career.
The collection arrived in a disorganized state and the current organization was imposed during processing. However, in general, folder, series, and subseries names were derived from Milner's labels and filing system. Some water-damaged items and items with mold have been replaced with photocopies. The collection is housed in 18 record boxes and 1 oversized box.
Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.
Samuel Milner was born on April 30, 1910. He earned a graduate degree in history from the University of Alberta, and completed further graduate work in political science at the University of Minnesota. During World War II, he served in Australia and New Guinea as a historian with the Air Transport Command, Army Air Forces. As a historian for the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, he wrote the book Victory in Papua, which was published in 1957. Following its publication, he became historian of the Air Weather Service, U.S. Air Force.
While at the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, Milner began writing another book about World War II, this one focused on the USS Houston (CA-30) and the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery (Texas National Guard). Crew members who survived the sinking of the Houston and members of the National Guard unit who were stationed on Java were both captured by the Japanese in early 1942. The men developed a strong bond as they spent the next three and one half years together as prisoners of war. The National Guard unit came to be known as "the Lost Battalion."
Milner interviewed survivors, gathered research materials, and wrote opening chapters for his book, which was to be titled The Undefeated, but he never completed the project. Milner died on March 12, 2000.
Cruiser Houston Collection
William A. Bernrieder Collection
Captain Albert H. Rooks Papers
04/11/2011: Because of water damage and the presence of mold, some materials have been replaced with photocopies.
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections MD Anderson Library 4333 University Drive
Samuel Milner USS Houston (CA-30) and 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Papers. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. https://findingaids.lib.uh.edu/repositories/2/resources/183 Accessed January 21, 2020.