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Crippen and Beck Family World War II Papers

Identifier: M/A 0375

Description of Contents

Correspondence, memoir, compiled documents, photo album scrapbooks, and paper weight made from defused artillery shell documenting the experiences of two members of Amy Rea's family in World War II. Crippen's materials include a memoir he wrote, originals and photocopies of documents charting his service in the U.S. Navy, extensive photograph albums and the paperweight he created from defused Japanese artillery shell detonators on Guadalcanal. Crippen’s photos include his training in the United States and military service in Japan, Australia, and Alaska. The albums include snapshots (including images of Nagasaki after the atomic bombing), stock photos, and ephemera. Beck's materials include letters written to his family in Blackduck, Minnesota, primarily during stateside training, postcards of the camps where he was stationed, and communication informing his family of his death.


  • Creation: 1942 - 2004



The collection is available for use in Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library during the department's open hours.


Ernest Leo "Ernie" Crippen and Louis Wilbur Beck (called "Wilbur" by his family) were brothers-in-law who both served in the United States military during World War II. Both men were from northern Minnesota. Crippen served in the Navy in the Pacific theater, while Beck was an Army soldier killed in the European theater.

Louis Wilbur Beck was born in Kelliher, Minnesota, on September 26, 1925. After graduating from Blackduck High School in 1943, Beck joined the army. He underwent training at Fort Snelling, Fort McClellan (Alabama), Camp Butner (North Carolina), and Camp Atterbury (Indiana), before being sent to fight in Europe. Beck was killed in action on December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. Originally listed as missing in action, Beck's death was confirmed in June 1944. Beck's body was returned to the United States in 1950 and reinterred at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Ernie Crippen was born on July 1, 1922, in Hartford, South Dakota. Crippen enlisted in the Navy in 1942. As part of a Seabees unit, Crippen served at the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the war's end, Crippen was stationed in Japan and the Kodiak Islands. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1948. Following his naval service, Crippen returned to Minnesota and had a long career as a soil engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He married Dora Beck in 1959. Ernie died on February 15, 2018, at age 95.


1.89 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Ernie Crippen's photo albums were previously in the collections of the Blackduck History Center.

Donor Information

This collection was donated by Amy Rea, daughter of Ernie Crippen and niece of Wilbur Beck, in January 2020 as accession 2020.01. Photo albums were donated by Amy Rea in January 2023 as accession 2023.03.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jenna Jacobs in November 2021.


Crippen and Beck Family World War II Papers
Jenna Jacobs
November 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.