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Stephen Stetz photographs

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: GRA 0147

Scope and Contents

This collection of photographs highlights Stephen Stetz’s service in the United States Navy during and after World War II, particularly his time in occupied Japan, and aboard the U.S.S. Florence Nightingale.

The first grouping in this collection contains portraits of Stephen Stetz and other family members dating from the mid-1930s to the mid-1970s. The earliest show Stetz with his parents and siblings, possibly at his confirmation ceremony. There are several photos of Stetz and his brother Nicholas in their military uniforms and photographs of Nicholas Stetz in Mexico and at McCook Air Force Base in Nebraska. This grouping also contains photos of Stetz and his wife, Estelle Simnowitz Stetz, and his daughter, Margaret Stetz.

The next grouping of photographs shows Stephen Stetz during his service in the U.S. Navy, including a photograph with his company at U.S. Naval Training Station Sampson in New York. Most of these photos were taken aboard the U.S.S. Florence Nightingale, which Stetz often referred to as “the Flossie.” Stetz noted that one of the photos was taken when the “gang” was “coming into Frisco,” probably referring to the Florence Nightingale’s stop in San Francisco in late May 1945. Two other photos show “divine services out at sea on the day Japan surrendered” and Stetz “behind a 2mm gun on VJ day on the Flossie.”

Another group of photos chronicle Stetz’s time stationed at the Yokosuka Naval Base just south of Tokyo, Japan. These photos depict the base’s shipyard, American ships and planes, and American sailors on leave in Yokosuka and Tokyo. Stetz captured images of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, the Emperor’s Gardens, and various Tokyo and Yokosuka street scenes. Several photos show Japanese civilians living in makeshift shelters or cleaning up building rubble. There are also photographs of Japanese laborers at the naval base bowing towards the Emperor’s Palace at sunset and handling Japanese artillery.

This collection also includes photographs of Stetz’s service in Hawaii and San Juan, Puerto Rico. One of the photos showing Stetz at the beach is labeled “Taken at: San Patricio Naval Hosp. Aug ’44 Puerto Rico.” There are several photographic postcards of surfing and pineapple harvesting in Hawaii and of the Normandie Hotel and Escambron Beach Club in San Juan.

Another grouping of photos captures a U.S. Navy line crossing ceremony, an initiation rite that commemorates a sailor’s first crossing of the equator. In this series of photographs, neophyte sailors are shown having their chests shaved, dressing as women, and being locked in the stocks by more experienced naval officers.

This collection also includes a photograph of Stetz as a New York City Transit Authority Police officer, certificates of his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, and certificates regarding his parents’ immigration through Ellis Island.


  • Creation: approximately 1935-1974


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

Stephen Stetz was born in New York, New York, on October 30, 1925, to Sophie Maluha (originally Eudokia Malucha) and Michael Stetz (originally Mikhail Stec). Maluha and Stetz immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island from the Ukraine, or more specifically from Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. At Ellis Island their names were transliterated. Stephen Stetz had four sibling: Nicholas Stetz, Olga Stetz Kabana, Stephanie Stetz, and William Stetz. Nicholas served in the U.S. Air Force from 1941 to 1945 and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. William served in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1951 and achieved the rank of Corporal.

Stephen Stetz enlisted in the United States Navy on September 9, 1943, and was honorably discharged on April 26, 1946, with the rank of Pharmacist’s Mate, Second Class. During this time he served at naval training stations and naval hospitals in the continental United States as well as in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Stetz also served aboard the U.S.S. Florence Nightingale, which was involved in the Pacific Theater of Operations by 1945 and was assigned to occupation service in Yokosuka, Japan, following the war. The Yokosuka Navy Yard was originally built to assist with Japan’s role in world trade. Following Japan’s surrender in August 1945, it was converted to a U.S. Navy base. Many of the photographs in this collection depict Stetz’s service on the Florence Nightingale or his time in Japan. Stetz received the Asiatic Pacific Medal 1 Star, European Theater Medal, American Theater Medal, and Victory medal for his service in the U.S. Navy. He also served in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1951 to 1952.

Following the war, Stetz worked as a New York City Transit Authority Police officer for twenty years, retiring with the rank of Sergeant in 1973. In 1952, he married Estelle Mildred Simnowitz (1928-1973), a librarian in the Queensborough Public Library System. Their daughter, Margaret Diane Stetz (b. 1953), is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware.

After his retirement from the Transit Authority Police force, Stetz worked as a respiratory therapist in New York-area hospitals until 2000. He died on December 5, 2005, in New York, New York.


NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive, “USS Florence Nightingale (AP-70) (accessed June 27, 2017)

Military Bases.US website, “Yokosuka” (accessed November 20, 2017)

Information derived from the collection and the collection donor.


.33 linear foot (1 box)

Metadata Rights Declarations


This collection of photographs highlights Stephen Stetz’s service in the United States Navy during and after World War II, particularly his time in occupied Japan, and aboard the U.S.S. Florence Nightingale.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Margaret Stetz, June-July 2017

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC GRA binder boxes

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, November 2017.

This collection was originally processed and cataloged with the call number PPI 0112.

Finding aid for Stephen Stetz photographs
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 November 27
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 30: The original collection number (PPI 0112) was changed to GRA 0147.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA