John Reynolds Ernest papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

John Reynolds Ernest was a Newark, Delaware, resident who was actively involved with the Civil Defense program in the Newark area during World War II. In 1942 at the age of 51, he resided at 45 West Park Place. Ernest was a section warden for Air Raid Zone 7 (or occasionally number 3) of Newark. Zone 7 included the area bordered by Main Street on the North, West Park Place on the South, South College on the East, and Elkton Road on the West (see map in F11). Ernest's post was the corner of Orchard Road and West Park Place.

This collection includes several identification cards belonging to John R. Ernest, including an Aircraft Warning Service card which bears a photograph of Ernest (F47).

The collection also includes several items contributed by William Ditto Lewis, University Librarian at Delaware from 1930-1958 (F45, F47).


Biographical information is derived from the collection.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a variety of letters, bulletins, documents, and memorabilia relating to the United States Army Aircraft Warning Service and the Newark Council for Civilian Defense for the period 1941-1944. Gathered by John R. Ernest, who served in these programs, the papers consist primarily of letters, memoranda, schedules, and training material directed to John Reynolds Ernest and others in their official capacity with the United States Army Aircraft Warning Service and with the Newark Council for Civilian Defense.

Individuals whose names appear with frequency in the material include Ernest, who served as a Newark Air Raid Warden; T. Russell Silk, Personnel Director for the Newark Council for Civilian Defense; Almar A. Reiff, Jr., Senior Air Raid Warden for Newark; F. Allyn Cooch, Chief Observer for observation post #10-A at Newark; and John R. Fader, District Director, First Fighter Command, Ground Observation Section, Philadelphia Fighter Wing.

Also included in the Ernest papers are an assortment of government training publications and ephemeral material related to civilian defense, war bonds, and rationing during World War II.

The collection documents the Civil Defense activities in Newark, Delaware, during World War II and serves as a good example of the Civil Defense activities which were taking place throughout the United States during this period. As a coastal area, Delaware and the surrounding region was regarded as a potential target for enemy air strikes, and the papers reflect the seriousness with which this potential threat was taken by regional residents and national civil defense coordinators.