Guide to the Paul Weiss Papers, 1905-1907, 1937
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: Jennifer A. Bryan
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Paul Louis Weiss, a Commander of the Legion of Honor, was born in Strasbourg, France on February 5, 1867. He graduated from the École Polytechnique and the École des Mines de Paris (School of Mining). He was a member of the Corps of Mines. In 1905, as the Engineer of Mines, Inspector of Quarries for the Department of the Seine, he played an instrumental role in the recovery of the remains of John Paul Jones. He was the Inspector General of Mines for France from 1911 to 1916.
After World War I, Weiss left the ministry to become director of the Compagnie Industrielle des Travaux et Entreprises Électriques. He was the consulting engineer to the Compagnie des Mines de Vicoigne, Noeux et Drocourt from 1919 to 1930 and then president of the Compagnie Française des Essences Synthétiques, which built a factory to convert coal into gasoline. He died in Paris on December 25, 1945.
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists mostly of material related to the recovery of John Paul Jones' body in 1905. Weiss oversaw the excavations at the former cemetery for foreign Protestants in Paris where research indicated Jones' remains were interred. Included in the collection are calling cards with brief notes to Weiss from General Horace Porter, American Ambassador to France. It was Porter who, in 1899, began the quest to find Jones' body and bring it back to the United States.
Items of interest include Weiss' plan of the site of the Saint Louis cemetery; three photographs of the body taken on April 11, 1905, two days after the autopsy; two invitations to the memorial service in Paris; the published proceedings of the Commission du Vieux Paris regarding the discovery and identification of the remains; and a program from the commemoration exercises for Jones held at the Naval Academy on April 24, 1906.
The collection also contains a set of photo post cards of the ceremonies in Paris to mark the transfer of Jones' body to the United States. There is an American and a European edition of the Century Magazine from October 1905, containing General Porter's article entitled "The Recovery of the Body of John Paul Jones." A set of thirteen photographs, some of which accompanied General Porter's article, record the excavation site and the activities there. From a French publication is an offprint of an article on the Protestant cemetery and the discovery of John Paul Jones' remains. There is also a copy of John Paul Jones Commemoration at Annapolis April 24, 1906 (Washington: GPO, 1907); General Porter's calling card is pinned to the front free endpaper of this volume.
The Weiss Papers have been digitized in their entirety. In addition to following the links in the Container List below, the materials can be accessed through the Nimitz Library Digital Collections.