USS Houston

A permanent exhibition in the MD Anderson Library tells the story of the USS Houston (CA-30), a heavy cruiser launched in 1929, and her crew. Named for the city of Houston, the ship was both a peacetime favorite of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and flagship of the Asiatic Fleet during World War II. Following the sinking of the ship by the Japanese during the Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942, the surviving crew members became POWs, and most worked as slave labor to build the Burma-Thai Railway.

Located on the second floor of the library, the exhibition features original letters and artifacts from the ship and the POW camps, an American flag made by prisoners-of-ear in Saigon, and vintage photographs of USS Houston crew members. Paintings of the ship are also on display, as well as a newly restored model, ship's bell, and two uniforms. Materials for the exhibition were drawn from the Libraries' Cruiser Houston Collection, which contains over seventy boxes of archival material related to the history of the ship and her crew.

For more information on the exhibition or the Cruiser Houston Collection, please contact Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections, by e-mail at or by phone at 713-743-0346.

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials are in the Cruiser Houston Collection?

The Cruiser Houston Collection contains materials related to the USS Houston (CA-30) and its crew. These materials include letters, photographs, documents, copies of the Blue Bonnet (the ship's newsletter), newspaper clippings, publications, and audio and video tapes. Included in the collection are materials related to Houston crew members' experiences as prisoners of war during World War II. Some material is also available on the USS Houston (CL-81) and the USS Houston (SSN-713). Several related collections include additional information about the USS Houston (CA-30) and its early history.

How can I come look at materials in the Cruiser Houston Collection?

You may view materials by visiting the Special Collections reading room in the MD Anderson Library, on the main campus of the University of Houston. You may use the Cruiser Houston Collection finding aid to help identify material that you would like to see. Materials will be brought out from our climate-controlled, secure stacks area at your request. A valid driver's license is required for identification.

Special Collections is located on the 2nd floor of the library, at the top of the staircase in the atrium, also accessible by the red elevators.

More about visiting Special Collections.

Do you accept donations of material to the collection?

Due to space limitations and a preference for original historic materials, after 25 years of collecting we now limit what we accept into the collection. We will still welcome larger sets of original photographs, letters, and documents from the period 1929 through 1945, as well as original diaries and scrapbooks. We no longer accept framed items, memorabilia such as menus, stamps, or coins, three-dimensional items, photocopies, scans, or post-WWII items.

May I request copies of materials from the collection?

You may request photocopies or digital images from the Cruiser Houston Collection and related collections.

How can I get in touch with the USS Houston Survivors Association, Next Generation, or have my name added to the mailing list for the Blue Bonnet newsletter?

Contact the USS Houston Survivors Association/Next Generations at

Additional Resources


USS Houston CA-30
This site contains a variety of links, resources, and information, including the crew list from the Cruiser Houston, information on activities of the USS Houston Survivors Association, and recent copies of the Blue Bonnet newsletter.

Naval Historical Center
The site for the official history program of the Department of the Navy contains naval history information on World War II, an extensive list of naval history-related websites, and a limited collection of online photographs.

National Archives and Records Administration
NARA is the government agency that oversees management of all federal records. Follow the links to the Research Room, By Selected Topic, and World War II to access a wealth of information held by NARA.

USS Houston Survivors Oral Histories, University of North Texas
The University of North Texas holds transcripts of oral history interviews with USS Houston survivors. The transcripts themselves are not online, but photocopies are available for a fee.

Online Documentary

Houston PBS (Jim Fisher and Matt Brawley, directors)

The Cruiser Houston: Of Pride and Purpose, part 1
The Cruiser Houston: Of Pride and Purpose, part 2


  • Daws, Gavin. Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific. New York: W. Morrow, 1994.
  • Dictionary of American naval fighting ships. Washington D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 1991-.
  • Hornfischer, James D. Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors. New York: Bantam Books, 2006.
  • La Forte, Robert S. and Ronald E. Marcello. Building the death railway: the ordeal of American POWs in Burma, 1942-1945. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1993.
  • Oosten, F. C. van. The Battle of the Java Sea. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1976.
  • Schultz, Duane P. The Last Battle Station: the Story of the USS Houston. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.
  • Thomas, David Arthur. Battle of the Java Sea. London: Pan Books, 1971.
  • Weissinger, William Jacob. Attention Fool!: Kitoski, Bakaro. Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 1998.
  • Winslow, Walter G. The Ghost the Died at Sunda Strait. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1984.