Guide to the Eli Vinock Papers, 1863-1999
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1998)
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Eli Vinock was born on December 19, 1914, in Beaumont, Texas to Russian immigrants. In September 1932, at the age of 17, Vinock enlisted in the United States Navy. Two years later, he secured an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, ultimately graduating with the Class of 1938.
Following his graduation from the Naval Academy, Vinock received his first assignment as a junior officer in gunnery, navigation and communications aboard U.S.S. Northampton (Cruiser: CL-26). Between 1939 and 1941, Vinock served a series of short tours aboard U.S. Ships Somers (Destroyer: DD-381), Aaron Ward (Destroyer: No. 132), New York (Battleship: BB-34), with duties ranging from gunnery officer to assistant engineer. At the outbreak of World War II, Vinock was serving as engineer in charge of the main propulsion plant of U.S.S. North Carolina (Battleship: BB-55) during shake down and sea trials. He remained with North Carolina throughout the first year of her duties in the Pacific, before being transferred to U.S.S. Remey (Destroyer: DD-688) as executive officer upon Remey's launch in July 1943. One year later, Vinock was given command of U.S.S. McCalla (Destroyer: DD-488). During Vinock's time as captain, McCalla served as a carrier screen and general escort in the Pacific Theater.
Following McCalla's decommissioning in May 1946, Vinock spent the next seven years on shore duty. From July 1946 until April 1949, Vinock was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base, Key West, where he served as Plans and Operations Officer and Public Information Officer. After a year and a half on the staff of Commander, Naval Forces Marianas on Guam, Vinock transferred to the Naval Postgraduate School in December 1950, where he served as an instructor in naval engineering and as head of the Department of Naval Engineering and Damage Control of the General Line School.
Following the end of his tour at the Post Graduate School in June 1953, Vinock received his second command, sailing aboard U.S.S. Hugh Purvis (Destroyer: DD-709). Following a tour composed primarily of training exercises, Vinock was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, where he served as the head of the destroyer section of the Fleet Maintenance Division. While at the Pentagon, Vinock was one of the driving forces behind the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization Program (FRAM), which modernized World War II era destroyers for use as submarine hunters in response to a recent boom in Soviet submarine construction.
In July 1959, Vinock's career took a diplomatic turn with his appointment as the Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission to Venezuela, where he advised the Venezuelan Navy with a special focus on maintenance and fleet modernization. In spring 1962, he took on the additional duty as Commander, U.S. Military Group, Venezuela. While in Venezuela, Vinock also helped plan the first UNITAS exercises between the U.S. Navy and various South American navies.
Upon returning to the United States in September 1962, Vinock received his third and final command of a ship, sailing aboard U.S.S. Sierra (Destroyer tender: AD-18) following her FRAM II conversion. In October 1963, Vinock was detached from Sierra and appointed Commander, Destroyer Squadron 8, serving in that capacity until August 1964. Vinock spent the last two years of his naval career as an advisor to the Director of the Staff of the Inter-American Defense Board.
In August 1966, Vinock retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of Captain to Key West, and later Miami, Florida. In retirement, Vinock turned his efforts towards writing, publishing various articles in Shipmate, and even making forays into children's literature. In 1989, Vinock began his research into the history of enlisted appointments to the United States Naval Academy. Eli Vinock continued to work on the enlisted project until his death on January 1, 1996.
Scope and Content Note
The Eli Vinock Papers, consisting of 7.5 linear feet of documentation, span the period from 1863 to 1999 (bulk 1989-1996). While focusing primarily on Vinock's attempts to chronicle the history of the appointment of enlisted sailors to the United States Naval Academy, the papers also touch upon Vinock's United States Navy career, including his tours of duty as Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission to Venezuela, commander of U.S.S. Sierra, and his involvement in the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program.
The collection is composed of several document types, most prominently including incoming and outgoing letters, news clippings, photographs, magazine articles, database printouts, and excerpts from personnel registers. Less prominent document types include handwritten notes, brochures, newsletters, certificates and resumes.
The Vinock Papers are organized into four series by document types and subject scope. USNA ENLISTED PROJECT FILES, representing nearly three quarters of the collection, documents Vinock's efforts to identify every enlisted sailor appointed to the United States Naval Academy since 1915. The series is composed of the resulting database, as well as supporting research, correspondence, project collaboration material, biographical files of enlisted graduates, and related articles authored by Vinock. Articles by Vinock on other topics from his U.S. Navy career, such as the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization Program and the Naval Academy Class of 1938, can be found in VINOCK WRITINGS. U. S. NAVY FILES AND PERSONAL MISCELLANY, through various news clippings, certificates, newsletters, brochures, resumes, and correspondence, touches briefly upon Vinock's naval career and personal interests. Additional documentary evidence pertaining to Vinock's career, including his various commands and tour as Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission to Venezuela, can be found in PHOTOGRAPHS. This series is also home to numerous portraits of Vinock, his family, and his colleagues.
Research interests served by the Vinock Papers include the history of enlisted appointments to the United States Naval Academy, the role of the Naval Academy Preparatory School, mid-twentieth century naval relations with Venezuela, U.S. Navy fleet rehabilitation, and the personal biographies of Vinock and numerous other enlisted graduates of the United States Naval Academy.
I. USNA ENLISTED PROJECT FILES, 1863-1994. (Boxes 1-13)
Organized into three sub-series.
Documentation of Vinock's efforts to identify every enlisted sailor appointed to the United States Naval Academy since 1915. Included in the series are incoming and outgoing letters, articles written by Vinock and others, handwritten notes, news clippings, brochures, excerpts from publications, and database printouts.
General Files: Arranged alphabetically by document type or topic.
Materials pertaining to various subjects related to the appointment of enlisted sailors to the Naval Academy, including the Naval Academy Preparatory School (and its predecessor, the Naval Academy Preparatory Class), Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, the Kaplan-Olmsted Incident, and Vinock's project research and collaborators.
Articles written by Vinock on topics other than enlisted sailors at the Naval Academy and the Naval Academy Preparatory School are located in VINOCK WRITINGS.
Biographical Files: Arranged alphabetically by last name.
Biographical material and correspondence pertaining to individual enlisted graduates of the United States Naval Academy and several key figures in the admission of enlisted sailors, including several Deans of Admissions at the United States Naval Academy. In addition to individual files, the sub-series also includes a combined file on the enlisted graduates of the Class of 1918, often referred to as the "first five."
Additional material pertaining to the first five enlisted graduates, such as exams and discharge papers, are located in USNA ENLISTED PROJECT FILES/General Files.
Database Files: Arranged alphabetically by document type and title, thereunder by compilation.
Printouts from and corresponding raw data (primarily published registers of naval personnel) used in the construction of Vinock's databases of enlisted sailors admitted to the United States Naval Academy. The different compilations of the database reflect varying arrangement schemes, including alphabetically by name and chronologically by class year and alumni number. Compilation 3 of the database is labeled as "Final Version," and is arranged alphabetically by last name.
II. VINOCK WRITINGS, 1984-1995. (Boxes 14-15)
Arranged chronologically by date of publication.
Articles written by Vinock pertaining to topics other than the admission of enlisted sailors to the United States Naval Academy and the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School. The articles, appearing primarily in Shipmate, pertain to such subjects as the joint naval operation known as UNITAS, the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program (FRAM), and the United States Naval Academy Class of 1938. Included in the series are magazine articles, draft articles, book proposals, and related correspondence.
Writings by Vinock pertaining to the admission of enlisted sailors to the United States Naval Academy and the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School are located in USNA ENLISTED PROJECT FILES/General Files.
III. U. S. NAVY FILES AND PERSONAL MISCELLANY, 1947-1996 (Boxes 15-16)
Arranged alphabetically by document type and topic.
Documentation of Vinock's U.S. Navy career and personal interests. The materials pertain to several subjects, including the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program (FRAM), U.S.S. Sierra, and biographical data on Vinock himself, including his tour of duty as the Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission to Venezuela. Included in the series are news clippings, certificates, resumes, published articles and reports, newsletters, and correspondence.
IV. PHOTOGRAPHS, 1945-1987. (Boxes 17-18 [OS])
Arranged alphabetically by topic or photographic genre.
Photographs, primarily black-and-white, pertaining largely to Vinock's U.S. Navy career. The photographs depict various topics and events, such as change of command ceremonies, awards ceremonies, Vinock's retirement, ships upon which Vinock served (including Hugh Purvis and Sierra), burial at sea, receptions and cocktail parties, and the Naval Academy Preparatory School, as well as portraits of Vinock and his family. Included in the series are black-and-white prints, color prints, photocopies, and occasional letters of transmittal.