About Special Collections & Archives  

The Special Collections & Archives Department of Nimitz Library contains rare books, manuscripts, photographs and other documents as well as the official records (archives) of the U.S. Naval Academy. Located on the third floor of Nimitz Library, the Special Collections & Archives area includes the Annapolis Room (reading room with seating for twenty-four researchers), offices, workrooms, and closed stack area.

Special Collections & Archives materials are available for use by midshipmen, faculty, and staff of the United States Naval Academy, and by other researchers upon request. All materials are non-circulating and must be used in the Annapolis Room.

Note: Faculty wishing to have their classes conduct research in the Special Collections & Archives Department are encouraged to contact the Head of the Department (bryan@usna.edu or x36904) to arrange for course-related bibliographic instruction.

 

Book Collections

Annapolis Collection: Original 1845 library of the Naval School at Annapolis (292 volumes). These are the titles that Commander Franklin Buchanan, the school's first Superintendent, acquired for the midshipmen's education.

Park Benjamin Collection: Works devoted entirely to the subjects of electricity and magnetism, assembled by Park Benjamin (1829-1922), Naval Academy Class of 1867 (1,168 volumes). Among the authors represented are Galileo Galilei, William Gilbert, Benjamin Franklin, Giambatista Beccaria, Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, André-Marie Ampère, Georg Ohm, and Michael Faraday.

Vice Admiral George C. Dyer Collection: Library of a member of the Naval Academy Class of 1919, reflecting the varied interests of a naval officer (1,172 volumes). Admiral Dyer (1898-1987) began his career commanding submarines. He served in World War II and the Korean War, retiring from the Navy in 1955.

C.S. Forester Collection: The gift of Frances Phillips, an editor for William Morrow and Company and longtime friend and colleague of C.S. Forester. The collection consists of 54 of Forester's books, many of them inscribed to Miss Phillips and containing her notes about the author and the publication of his works. There are also 12 manuscripts of Forester's books. Forester is probably best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels, tracing the career of a British naval officer from midshipman to admiral during the Napoleonic wars.

General Collection: Books and periodicals covering a vast array of subjects, including physics, mathematics, military science, aeronautics, history, philosophy, literature, languages, art, naval architecture, and exploration. The volumes range in date from the 15th to the 20th centuries and many were formerly part of the Naval Academy Library's circulating collection.

Harry F. Guggenheim Collection: Books once belonging to Harry Frank Guggenheim (1890-1971), philanthropist, aviation pioneer, and newspaper executive (2,990 volumes). Guggenheim was a naval aviator during World War I. He provided financial support to physicist Robert Goddard for his rocket experiments, was a friend of Charles Lindbergh, and served as ambassador to Cuba under President Herbert Hoover.

Dr. Thomas O. Paine Collection of Submarine Books: Books and periodicals (fiction and nonfiction) relating to submarines and submarine warfare (3,476 volumes) collected by Dr. Thomas O. Paine. During World War II, Dr. Paine served aboard the U.S.S. Pompon (SS-267). He became NASA's third administrator on March 21, 1969. [NASA Biography of Dr. Paine]

Chester L. Somers Submarine Collection: Books (fiction and nonfiction), photographs, newspaper clippings and other ephemera relating to submarines and submarine warfare. Approximately 1,700 volumes, plus 18 linear feet of ephemera. Mr. Somers continued to add to his collection until 2011.

Rear Admiral Paul H. Wiedorn Collection: Illustrated books and periodicals covering a range of subjects collected by Rear Admiral Paul H. Wiedorn, Naval Academy Class of 1922 (909 volumes). Among the volumes in this collection are popular magazines of the 19th century, including Godey's Lady's Book.

 

Manuscript Collections

Over 400 collections, spanning the 18th to the 20th centuries, including approximately 100 ships' logs, journals, letterbooks, order books, and watch-, station- and quarter-bills dating from 1759-1943.

Personal papers include those of:

In addition to the manuscript collections is the Manuscript Vertical File that contains individual documents or groupings of small numbers of documents. There are over 100 Manuscript Vertical File items, such as John Paul Jones' letter written in 1779 aboard the Bonhomme Richard's "prize the late British Ship of War Serapis" to the editor of the Gazette de Leyde or Admiral Nimitz's speech on seapower delivered before the National Geographic Society in 1946.

Photograph Collections

Edward J. Steichen Photography Collection: World War II naval combat photographs and photographs of prominent twentieth-century photographers such as Ansel Adams, Edward and Brett Weston, and Dorothea Lange. There are roughly 3,000 combat photographs, several hundred "art" photographs, and over 500 books on photography and photographers in the collection. Thomas J. Maloney, member of the Naval Academy Class of 1927, established the collection on the occasion of Edward Steichen's 90th birthday. Maloney was editor and publisher of the magazine U.S. Camera.

Photograph Albums: Ninety-eight albums dating from 1860 to 1970, a number of them containing individual photographs of a particular Naval Academy graduating class. In addition to albums relating to the Naval Academy are others documenting such varied subjects as a Seabee base on Guadalcanal from 1942-43, the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, and the Japanese Imperial Naval College, circa 1925.

 

Special Collections Picture File

Photographs and some prints of mostly naval-related subjects, including views of the Naval Academy. Approximately 10,000 pictures.

 

Vertical File

Collection of miscellaneous items, including newsclippings, pamphlets, and printed ephemera. Roughly 75 linear feet of documents.

Archives

The William W. Jeffries Memorial Archives houses the noncurrent records of the Naval Academy. These documents, Record Group 405, Records of the United States Naval Academy, are part of the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration. Under the terms of a special agreement with the National Archives, the Naval Academy Archives maintains and provides access to historical records generated at the Academy. Within the Archives are stored the noncurrent records of the following:

Academic Board Commandant of Midshipmen
Academic Dean Public Affairs Office
Academic Divisions/Departments Registrar
Board of Visitors Superintendent

Non-textual records include approximately 25,000 photographs depicting life at the Naval Academy from the 19th century to the present. A small selection of these images are online (Naval Academy Archival Images) and approximately 10,000 images are available for viewing on a video laser disc. Other non-textual records are film, videotape, and audio recordings of athletic and other special events; maps illustrating the growth of the Academy; and architectural drawings, including original sketches of architect Ernest Flagg who reconstructed the Academy in the early 1900s. The Archives also houses a collection of documents containing information on the postgraduate careers of alumni.

For additional information see the article The United States Naval Academy Archives by Gary A. LaValley, former USNA Archivist.

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