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Crippen and Beck Family World War II Papers

Identifier: M/A 0375

Description of Contents

Correspondence, memoir, compiled documents, 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, and the paperweight he created from defused Japanese artillery shell detonators on Guadalcanal. 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.


  • 1942 - 2004


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for use in Special Collections 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 reinturned 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 Transporation. He married Dora Beck in 1959. Ernie died on February 15, 2018, at age 95.


0.63 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

This collection was donated by Amy Rea, daugher of Ernie Crippen and niece of Wilbur Beck, in January 2020 as accession 2020.01.

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.