The James Lee and Ethel M. Fisher Family Archives

Dublin Core


The James Lee and Ethel M. Fisher Family Archives


Williamsburg Inn (Williamsburg, Va.)
World War, 1939-1945 - War work - Virginia - Williamsburg
World War, 1939-1945 - Social aspects - United States
World War, 1939-1945 - Women - United States
World War, 1939-1945 - Medical care
World War, 1939-1945 - Naval operations, American
Williamsburg (Va.) - History - 20th century
World War 1939-1945 - Atrocities - Japan
World War, 1939-1945 - Atrocities - Philippines
Fisher, James Lee, 1895-1987
Fisher, Margaret Ethel, 1897-1981
World War, 1939-1945--Photography.


Consisting of a scrapbook and fifty-one associated black and white photographs, the archives document the wartime experiences of Dr. James Lee Fisher, who served as a Navy medical doctor during World War II, and his wife, Ethel, who accompanied him to his first post at Camp Peary, where she served in the Red Cross Unit. A copy of the section of Dr. Fisher’s reminiscences which pertains to his wartime service helps bring the events pictured in the scrapbook and associated photos to life and also illuminates the character and personality of Dr. Fisher.

Dr. Fisher departed for active duty as Lt Commander in the Medical Division of the United States Navy on December 18, 1942. His first assignment brought him to the United States Naval Construction Training Center at Camp Peary, home of the “Seabees,” and located near Williamsburg, Virginia. Dr. Fisher’s wife, Ethel, joined him in Williamsburg in 1943 and they lived for nine months in officer’s quarters at the Williamsburg Inn. Photos within the scrapbook of the Fishers interacting with other couples billeted at the Inn illustrate the Inn’s important role in bolstering morale by providing a place for a peaceful interlude of rest and relaxation on weekends where the military could gather for refreshments, swimming, and entertainment.

In September 1943, the Fishers moved to a cabin on the banks of the York River on the Camp Peary base. Ethel Fisher took part in the Red Cross Unit overseen by Mrs. Ware, wife of Captain James G. Ware, the Commanding Officer at Camp Peary. A series of group portraits, along with informal scenes of the Red Cross Unit members cutting and rolling bandages, highlight women’s contributions to wartime work in the Williamsburg area. Social life on base at Camp Peary, ranging from picnics, baseball games, parties, and dances, is captured in a series of photos of the officers, soldiers, and families. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher’s side trips to Norfolk, Newport News, Yorktown, and Richmond are also represented in the album.

In April 1944, Dr. Fisher left Camp Peary for a new assignment at the United States Naval Construction Center at Camp Endicott, Rhode Island. From there he received orders to transfer to Seattle for training to take on the role of Senior Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Gage, a ship that formed part of the Attack Transport of the Amphibious Corps, 5th Fleet. By January 1945, the U.S.S. Gage set sail for the South Pacific, where Dr. Fisher and the crew witnessed the devastation in the Philippines, participated in such maneuvers as the Okinawa landing invasion, and assisted with various efforts in Occupied Japan, whether transporting troops, medical supplies, or medical staff to different Japanese cities to lend aid. Through photographs and commentary, the second half of Dr. Fisher’s scrapbook covers all of the difficult and distressing events he encountered during his tour in the South Pacific at the end of World War II. The album thus offers a complete picture of what many military officials who spent time at training bases near Williamsburg eventually faced as the war progressed and finally came to a close. Dr. Fisher returned home in late 1945 to his medical practice in Youngstown, Ohio, noting at the close of his album “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, but I wouldn’t do it again.”


Fisher, James Lee



Is Part Of

James Lee and Ethel M. Fisher Family Archives, AV2021.4


1 scrapbook; 51 photographs

Rights Holder

Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Collection Items


Fisher, James Lee 1943

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, james Lee 1942-1945
D2021-COPY-0805-0010-A (1).jpg

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945

Fisher, James Lee 1942-1945
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