Rigdon, William M. Papers

Dates: 1945-1960

Assistant Naval Aide to the President, 1942-1953.

The William M. Rigdon Papers document his service from 1945 to 1953 as Assistant Naval Aide to the President. The documents mainly consist of information about Harry S. Truman’s official travel and vacations, and visits to the U. S. by foreign Heads of State. The collection includes newspaper clippings, magazine articles, correspondence, charts, menus, price lists for food, and travel itineraries.

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ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one linear foot (about 1600 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Copyright in the unpublished writings of William M. Rigdon in these papers has been donated to the United States of America. In addition, documents prepared by U. S. government officials in the course of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents that do not fall into these two categories is presumed to remain with the authors of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Willie L. Harriford (1964).
Updated by: Sarah H. Peters (2005) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1904

 

Born in Statesboro, Georgia

c. 1923

 

Enlisted in the U. S. Navy

1942-1953

 

Assistant Naval Aide to the President

1953, August 1

 

Retired from the U. S. Navy

1953-1954

 

Attended the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University

1954, July

 

Executive Secretary of the Virginia Hotel Company

1962

 

Published White House Sailor, an account of his career, co-written with James Derieux

1991, April 24

 

Died

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The William M. Rigdon Papers mostly document Rigdon’s service as Assistant Naval Aide to President Harry S. Truman from 1945 to 1953. Rigdon had been the Assistant Naval Aide under Franklin D. Roosevelt since 1942, but the collection contains no documents dating from before 1945. The Rigdon papers consist of one series, a Subject File.

A majority of the Rigdon papers are related to President Truman’s travels. Commander Rigdon was in charge of arranging many of the details surrounding Truman’s vacations, some official State visits, and some visits to the U. S. by foreign Heads of State. The Rigdon papers are diverse in content. The collection includes documents about the Potsdam Conference in July and August of 1945, and Truman’s return to the United States on the USS Augusta.

when the first atomic bomb was dropped in Japan on August 6, 1945. President Truman made many recreational voyages aboard the Presidential yacht, the USS Williamsburg.

. The collection includes an array of price lists and menus for food served on Truman’s voyages as well as handwritten mileage charts. Many of Truman’s Whistlestop Campaign speeches from 1948 are in the collection, along with speeches supporting the Democratic Party during the 1952 election. Also included are handwritten notes, formal correspondence, meeting minutes, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and maps. Photos are also included in the collection, but are cross referenced to the audiovisual collection.

This collection reflects a more personal side of President Truman and his family. For instance, Margaret Truman wrote a short note which is included in the papers requesting which films she wanted her father to see while they were on vacation in Key West. Bess Truman discussed luncheon plans in another handwritten note. Yet another document lists the bets President Truman and many members of his Administration made on college football games one season. The collection also contains many subpoenas and trial proceedings from “The Royal High Court of the Raging Main” (which were meant to be a joke) from Truman’s voyage on the USS Missouri in 1947.

Other materials at the Truman Library relating to William M. Rigdon and his duties as Assistant Naval Aide include oral history interviews with Commander William M. Rigdon and Donald J. MacDonald, the Leo W. Roberts Papers, the Robert Dennison Papers, and the President’s Travel Logs in the Rose Conway Papers, which were prepared by Rigdon. Other collections of Rigdon Papers are available at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and at Georgia Southern University.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos.

 

Series

1-2

  SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1960
Newspaper clippings, magazine articles, correspondence, charts, menus and price lists for food, travel itineraries, maps, press releases, reports, and speeches relating to Rigdon’s tenure as Assistant Naval Aide to President Truman (1945-1953). Arranged in alphabetical order and thereunder chronologically.
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FOLDER TITLE LIST

SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1960

Box 1

  • Chronological--April 12, 1945-June 1945
  • Chronological--July-August, 1945
  • Chronological--September-December, 1945
  • Chronological--1946
  • Chronological--1947
  • Chronological--1948
  • Chronological--1949
  • Chronological--1950

Box 2

  • Chronological--1951
  • Chronological--1952-1953
  • Chronological--1956-1960
  • Cross Reference Sheets and Miscellaneous Material
  • Presidential Aides
  • USS Williamsburg
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