Charles B. Jennings photographs, scrapbook boards, and other materials1863-2006 bulk 1946-1999
Charles Jennings (1916-2006) served for more than forty years as RCA Global Communications’ primary liaison in Japan, figuring prominently in the development of post-World War II Japanese communications systems. The collection consists primarily of black and white and color photographs, albums, advertising posters, papers, and unbound scrapbook boards of photographs and ephemera. The images predominantly relate to Jennings’ business and personal life during his time in Japan, addressing the themes of Japanese and trans-Pacific telecommunications activities, particularly relating to RCA; postwar Japanese-American business and informal diplomatic relations; and life in postwar Tokyo.
- bulk 1946-1999
- Jennings, Charles B., 1916-2006 (Person)
16 Linear Feet
General Physical Description (AVD portion only)
Approx. 180 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. approx. 1075 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller. approx. 13 photographic prints : color ; 8 x 10 in. approx. 715 photographic prints : color ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller. 8 polaroids : color. 6 photographic prints : inkjet digital print : color ; printed on office paper. 1 print : lithograph : color ; 8 x 10 in. 1 certificate : color ; 12 x 16 in. 1 certificate : color ; 16 x 23 in. 4 glass plate negatives. 5 negatives. 6 greeting cards. 31 postcards. 10 photoradiograms. 6 contact sheets : b&w ; 35mm. 1 picture : collage of photographic prints, ink : color ; 9.5 x 10.5 in. 1 copper plate ; 6.5 x 10.25 in. 5 albums. 193 scrapbook boards ; 12.5 x 16 in. posters. Papers and ephemera.
Charles Jennings (1916-2006) served for more than forty years as the primary liaison in Japan for RCA Global Communications, figuring prominently in the development of post-World War II Japanese communications systems. Jennings joined RCA Communications, Inc., in New York in 1934 in the Traffic Operating Department as a Check Clerk, becoming Supervisor of the Check Section in the New York Central Telegraph Office in 1940. He remained with RCA for his entire career, aside from military service during the Second World War. Jennings was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 as a private and surveyed message centers throughout Europe for the Signal Corps. Jennings was recruited in 1944 into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and worked on cryptographic communications until his discharge from service in 1946, having achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
After the war, Jennings was assigned by RCA Communications, Inc. to Tokyo as a representative in Japan. Once there, he worked closely with government authorities from the United States and Japan to coordinate the reopening of Japan’s overseas communications services following World War II. He became a Vice President of RCA Communications in 1953.
Jennings worked extensively with Japanese international communications carrier, Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co., Ltd. (KDD), handling liaison between that company and RCA headquarters in New York and RCA stations in San Francisco, Honolulu, Guam and Manila. Jennings handled commercial, planning, technical and operations matters of all types in order to increase RCA’s participation in communications traffic and to improve service quality. His work often consisted of socializing with Japanese station managers and acting as intermediary for RCA visitors in RCA Communications and other divisions. Although RCA and other foreign carriers were not authorized to operate communication services there directly, Japan produced the largest revenue to RCA of any of its overseas relations.
Jennings also became responsible for RCA representation in the Republic of Korea. He served as Director of the David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship program for Japan and served as a member and treasurer of the Fulbright Commission in Japan. He also served on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Jennings remained with RCA Global Communications in Japan through its sale to MCI Communications Corp. in 1988. After his retirement from MCI in 1997, Jennings worked as a consultant for KDD to write a history of Japanese telecommunications. Jennings passed away in 2006 in New Jersey.
The arrangement scheme for the collection was imposed during processing in the absence of a usable original order. The exceptions to this arrangement include the albums, scrapbook boards, and scholarship series, in which the original chronological arrangement was maintained during processing.
Scope and Content
The collection, created by Jennings, consists primarily of black and white and color photographs, unbound scrapbook boards of photographs and ephemera, albums, and posters. The images predominantly relate to Jennings’ business and personal life during the more than forty years he spent in Japan from 1946 to circa 2000. The collection addresses RCA Global Communications’ operations in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and China; trans-Pacific telecommunications activities; The David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship Program in Japan; and postwar Japanese-American business and informal diplomatic relations. Prominent telecommunications companies including RCA, KDD, MCI Communications, and Great Northern Telegraph Company of Denmark are represented.
Many photographs show Jennings in Japan with visiting American RCA executives and board members at dinners, receptions, and meetings with Japanese and international communications representatives. There are also items related to RCA Communications sites or business in Korea, the Philippines, China, the United States, and Guam. The advertising posters, dating from 1946 to 1952, formed a part of the Japanese Ministry of Communications advertising campaign to stimulate telegraph and telephone traffic directed at American and other foreign servicemen stationed in occupied Japan. There are also a few examples of RCA radiophotograms sent between Japan and the United States. A portion of the collection, including papers, photographs, and albums, relates to Jennings’ work from 1960 to 1983 as the director of the David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship Program for Japan. Another portion of the collection depicts meetings and events related to MCI’s purchase of RCA Communications in 1988.
The collection also addresses Jennings’ personal life and includes candid snapshots of postwar Japan, particularly Tokyo, and ephemera collected from Japan, Korea, and China. A small portion of the images and ephemera relate to Jennings’ early life and military service. Personal photographs include images of friends, children, and travel. Ephemera include newspaper clippings, invitations, tickets, menus, brochures, identification cards, greeting cards, and other items.
The collection has been divided into ten series: Jennings personal photographs; Publicity photographs, Photographs of meetings and events; Photographs of telecommunications sites and equipment; Albums; Scrapbook boards; David Sarnoff RCA Scholarships; Posters; Awards; and Business files.
The Personal photographs and snapshots series contains black and white and color photographs. Most of the images are snapshots of Tokyo taken between 1946 and 1950. Themes include markets, shopping districts, street scenes, people, children, the imperial family, tea ceremony lessons, festivals, and public radio broadcasts. Photographs taken before Jennings moved to Japan include images of family members, informal portraits, and Jennings’ military service during World War II. Other photographs in this series date from 1950 to 2006 and include informal snapshots of Jennings, friends and parties in Japan, travel, weddings, Jennings’ personal collection of books and objects, and Jennings’ final years after moving back to New Jersey. Finally, there are a few postcards and greeting cards in this series.
The Publicity photographs series contains black and white and color photographs. Subjects include Crown Prince Akihito’s visit to the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey in 1953, David Sarnoff’s visit to Japan in 1960, portraits of David Sarnoff, images of RCA staff members in the United States and Japan, and publicity images taken of RCA Communications offices in New York and San Francisco. There are also photographs taken at the Tokyo International Airport of RCA executives and board members and their families arriving in Japan, and many of these have attached publicity captions.
Meetings and events photographs series contains black and white and color photographs dating primarily from 1950 to 1990, and the images primarily relate to Jennings’ work life in Japan. The photographs consist largely of visits to Japan of top RCA executives, including David Sarnoff, Robert Voss, Thompson Mitchell, Howard Hawkins, Eugene Becken, W. Sidney Sparks, Steve Barone, Robert J. Angliss, Julius Koppelman, Eugene Murphy, and Lawrence Codacovi. Many of the images related to these visits are of dinners, cocktail parties, and other events hosted by Japanese and international telecommunications representatives which Jennings attended with the visiting RCA executives. Other images show visits to Japanese telecommunications facilities and cultural sites. Other subjects depicted in this series include meetings, symposia, trips to China and Korea, China COMM expo in 1984, RCA employees participating in RCA and KDD’s exchange program, events celebrating RCA Communications’ sale to MCI, and Jennings receiving the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1978 from the Japanese Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and other events.
Telecommunications sites and equipment photographs series contains black and white and color photographs and postcards. Postcards depict sites from the Japan Wireless Telegraph Company, the Oyama International Telecommunications Center, the ship KDD Maru, and KDD facilities, equipment, and satellite communications center. Photographs depict early twentieth century telecommunications equipment and mid-twentieth century Japanese equipment and staff. Other images depict RCA Communications sites and equipment in the United States, including New York City; Rocky Point, New York; Point Reyes, California; Bolinas, California; San Francisco, California; and the Pulantat earth station, Guam. Images also highlight RCA telecommunications systems equipment including the AUTOMEX-II, CT-10 Telesystem, and SATCOM system. Finally, the series includes several examples of RCA photoradiograms, blank radiogram envelopes, and a 1951 map showing international telegraph and telephone networks.
The Albums series consist of five albums. One album dates to the 1950s and contains black and white photographs of exteriors and communications equipment from the following three radio operating stations in the Philippines: Manilla/CTO, Bigaa Transmitting Station, and Dasmarinas Receiving Station. The Manilla/CTO images consist of receiving consoles, a 6-position MXD transmit table, table positions, a locally built subdivider, cubicle and tower project, spiral stairway project, microwave cubicle, and microwave tower. The Bigaa Transmitting Station images consist of views of the station, microwave building and tower, generator building, main transmitter building, UHF dog house, transmitters, Marconi telephone terminals, patch rack, FSK units, and tone signal converters. The Dasmarinas Receiving Station images depict the station, towers with microwave antenna, microwave building, dead-end structure, marine control room, generators and power switchboard, receivers, general radio frequency standard, control racks, and a multicoupler rack.
The other four albums date from 1961 to 1964 and include black and white photographic prints, programs, and letters from the David Sarnoff RCA Scholarships for Japan Annual Luncheon honoring Japanese undergraduate students who received scholarships for the year.
The Scrapbook boards series consists of unbound boards that have photographs and memorabilia pasted onto them relating to Jennings’ life and work. The boards are mostly labeled with the date and location to which the items on them refer, and represent a chronological account of most of his career. However, some gaps in the chronology exist, which may reflect missing boards lost either prior to the collection’s accession or due to a flood at the former David Sarnoff Library. Items featured on the boards are predominantly from Japan, but there are also items from China, Korea, the Philippines, and the United States. Many of the items include Jennings’ commentary in the form of typewritten captions. Boards dated between 1938 and 1953 primarily consist of pamphlets listing international telegraph rates for RCA and the Japanese Ministry of Telecommunications in Japan. Boards dated 1955 to 1963 include photographs and various ephemera related to Jennings' work and personal life in Japan. Photographic subjects include visits by RCA executives and board members to Japan, participants of the RCA employee exchange program, various informal and formal dinners and cocktail receptions, meetings, expos, and symposia, club events, and the David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship Program for Japan annual luncheons. Other photographs depict friends, weddings, Geisha parties, sightseeing around Japan, trips to Korea and the Philippines, and Jennings being awarded the Third Class Order of the Sacred Treasure and a ceremonial visit to the Imperial Palace to record appreciation to the Emperor of Japan, and other events.
Memorabilia on the boards include newspaper clippings and cartoons; telegrams; menus; Jennnings’ identification cards; greeting cards; items related to Japanese baseball; invitations to receptions, dinners, and performances from government officials and Japanese and international telecommunications representatives; brochures and pamphlets for cultural sites, hotels, and meetings; and tickets to sporting events, cultural sites, museums, exhibits, and theater and music performances.
The series also includes loose items which may relate to board content that became separated or to Jennings’ manuscript on the history of Japanese telecommunications. Included are photocopies of photographs included in Jennings’ book. Some ephemera predate Jennings’ time in Japan, relating to his life before and during World War II, including his time in the military. These include ticket booklets from the 1939 New York World’s Fair, tickets to a Wendell Willkie campaign rally, ration cards, and other items.
The David Sarnoff RCA Scholarships series consists of papers, photographs, negatives, and a copper plate. Each year beginning in 1960, the David Sarnoff RCA Scholarship Program in Japan awarded tuition for a year and an incidental educational allowance to 90 undergraduates studying physical sciences, electronics, and related subjects at Japanese universities. Graduate student fellowships were added to the program in 1965. Dating from 1960 to 1983, the papers in this series primarily consist of yearly lists of recipients, summaries of the program, expense reports, transcripts of speeches, and invitations. The black and white photographs depict annual scholarship luncheons.
The Ministry of Telecommunications posters series consists of nineteen color posters produced by the Japanese Ministry of Communications from 1946 to 1949 and the Ministry of Telecommunications from April 1949 to 1952. Predominantly in English, the posters encourage American and other servicemen in occupied Japan to send telegrams, radiograms, and to make telephone calls for American holidays including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. A few of the posters announce new service arrangements, and others announce service to British Commonwealth points and to ships at sea. The artwork primarily relates to the appropriate holiday and includes such things as turkeys, Santa Claus, mothers, fathers, and hearts. The poster text was written jointly by the Ministry and consulting American carrier representatives. The posters created a way to stimulate revenue for both foreign and Japanese communications services without compromising the ban on foreign carriers from advertising directly in Japan.
The Awards series consists of two certificates. One is in Japanese and is the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Third Class, awarded to Jennings in 1978 by the Japanese Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. The other certificate is from The United States Educational Commission in Japan, the Fulbright Commission, and was awarded to Jennings in 1976 for twenty years of service.
The Business files series contains documents related to Jennings’ career. His military service in World War II is recorded here with ration cards, identification cards, and service records. Following the war, Jennings relocated to occupied Japan for RCA, and this series contains his occupation identity cards and memoranda related to communications issued by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP).
The majority of this series consists of records related to Jennings’ daily operations for RCA which includes correspondence on tariffs and accounting, cable agreements, meeting notes from cable carrier groups, and reference publications and regulations.
After he retired, Jennings signed a contract with Japanese carrier KDD to write a book on Japanese telecommunications. The full draft of this book is in this series, as are two original copies of a book of anecdotes Jennings wrote about life in Japan.
These folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.
This collection is open for research. The Business files series contains materials subject to a 25-year time seal.
This collection contains material from the Manuscripts and Archives Department (M&A) and the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department (AVD). Box prefixes indicate which department holds an individual file or item.
The Charles B. Jennings collection was acquired by the David Sarnoff Library in 2006 after Jennings’ death through next-of-kin and Arthur Sarnoff. In 2009, along with the rest of the archival collections of the David Sarnoff Library, the collection was donated to the Hagley Museum and Library.
Some materials were partially processed at the David Sarnoff Library before acquisition by the Hagley Museum and Library. A portion of the collection, particularly the scrapbook boards and posters, was damaged or lost in a flood at the David Sarnoff Library in 2007.
- Jennings, Charles B., 1916-2006 (Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Charles B. Jennings photographs, scrapbook boards, and other materials
- Angela Schad. Collection processed by Kenneth Cleary, Angela Schad, and Rachael A. Beyer.
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description:
- Script of description:
- Language of description note:
- The collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant.
Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA