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Rare photos from the USS Indianapolis and WWII: Preserving the collection of Alfred Joseph Sedivi, the ship's photographer.
Rare photos from the USS Indianapolis and WWII: Preserving the collection of Alfred Joseph Sedivi, the ship's photographer.
72 backers pledged $4,455 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Thanks to everyone for making our first Kickstarter project a success! We have reached our original goal $3,000! We are now focused on our two stretch goals: 1. $7,000 to purchase a quality digital camera, copy stand, camera mount, and professional photography lighting to allowing for the photo albums to be digitized without being taken apart. 2. $10,000 to develop a traveling exhibition of the photographs to be displayed at locations across the United States - museums, libraries, historical societies, community centers, ship reunions, and schools. Please see the Updates page for additional information. Help us get to $10,000!

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In the closing days of WWII, torpedoes from a Japanese submarine slammed into the side of U.S.S. Indianapolis, dooming the heavy cruiser. The sailors who did not go down with the ship were left adrift on the open ocean for more than 3 days during which they battled the elements, starvation, and shark attacks. Of the 1,196 crew members who had deployed with the ship, fewer than 320 survived the ordeal. The captain of the ship was forced to bear the burden of the blame for the loss of ship and life, which drove him to commit suicide. He would be posthumously exonerated fifty years later following a campaign helped by the efforts of a boy working on a school project about the incident. 

Funeral on USS Indianapolis following a kamikaze attack (April 1945)
Funeral on USS Indianapolis following a kamikaze attack (April 1945)

Many people became familiar with the story of the Indianapolis through the 1975 film Jaws in which actor Robert Shaw delivered one of the greatest monologues in the history of the movies. As “Quint,” he gave a gripping account of his experience as one of the few surviving sailors of the ship. The tragedy was also the subject of the 1991 TV movie Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S.Indianapolis (available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lMdj0SSJfE). 

Among those lost when the Indianapolis sank was Alfred Joseph Sedivi, the ship’s photographer. Sedivi documented the lives of the sailors who served, played, prayed and fought on the ship they affectionately called “the Indy Maru.” Sedivi’s cameras also captured the aftermath of the battles on Tinian, Saipan, Guam, Tarawa and Iwo Jima. His photos survived the war because he secretly sent them home to his family until the days before his ship’s fatal mission. 

A J Sedivi in the photo lab on the USS Indianapolis
A J Sedivi in the photo lab on the USS Indianapolis

The collection consists of 1,650 images, the overwhelming majority of which have never been published. Unfortunately, a portion of the photos were damaged when they were stolen decades ago and improperly stored. The surface of several of these prints stuck together and were partially torn when they were separated. A few hundred other photos have curled and started to crack. 

Example of damage on some of the photos in the collection.
Example of damage on some of the photos in the collection.

Now that the entire collection has been reunited and donated by Sedivi's family to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Institute has launched an effort to raise the funds needed to restore and digitize all 1,650 photos. With your generous donation, we can ensure that this important collection of photographs will be available for the survivors and their families, as well as historians, the public, and future generations. Once digitized, the collection will be made available for viewing online via the Naval Institute's website. More information about the photography collection of Alfred Joseph Sedivi in the current issue of Naval History magazine. 

Read the Naval History article on the USS Indianapolis and Sedivi's photography collection
Read the Naval History article on the USS Indianapolis and Sedivi's photography collection

Our $3,000 goal would provide the funds to digitize the entire 1,650 photo collection and preserve the original photos, including preservation materials (archive boxes, poly slides for each photo). The Institute's stretch goal of $7,000 would enable the purchase of a quality digital camera and copy stand mount allowing for the photo albums to be digitized without being taken apart.  The albums would then be preserved and properly stored in their original and current condition.  If funds raised total $10,000 or more, the Naval Institute will develop a traveling exhibition of the photographs to be displayed at museums and locations across the US.  

After the Kickstarter funding period has ended, you can follow our progress via www.usni.org/ussindianapolis

Risks and challenges

Founded in 1873, the U.S. Naval Institute is the preeminent thought leader serving all Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel by advancing the naval profession and preserving our naval history. The Naval Institute’s photo archive consists of more than 450,000 prints, slides, and negatives dating back to the Civil War—the largest private collection of naval images in the world. Though maintained in a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled archive, these precious original prints are deteriorating before our eyes—curling up, turning yellow, fading away. Supporting this initiative will ensure this collection is preserved in effective, comprehensive, searchable fashion and available to historians, documentary film-makers, veterans and their families, and the public.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Receive a limited edition postcard of Alfred Sedivi's most notable photographs with a hand written note from a Naval Institute staffer.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Receive the postcard described above and one year print subscription to Naval History Magazine.

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    18 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Receive the postcard, Naval History Magazine, and a Naval Institute Press e-book of your choosing. With nearly 400 e-book titles to choose from, you will receive a code for a free download of a book of your choosing.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Receive the postcard, Naval History Magazine, a Naval Institute Press e-book of your choosing, and the Americans at War DVD collection (www.americans-at-war.com).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Receive the postcard, Naval History Magazine, a Naval Institute Press e-book of your choosing, the Americans at War DVD collection, and an 8x10 matted and framed print from the Servidi collection.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Receive the postcard, Naval History Magazine, a Naval Institute Press e-book of your choosing, the Americans at War DVD collection, an 8x10 matted and framed print from the Servidi collection, and listing as a Leadership Circle Donor in Proceedings Magazine and online at www.usni.org.

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Funding period

- (38 days)