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History Department

William M. McBride

History of Science and Technology; Naval-Military History

  •  Phone: (410) 293-6290
  •  E-mail:
  •  The United States Naval Academy 107 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21402



  • Ph.D. - The Johns Hopkins University (History of Science and Technology)
  • M.Sc. in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.Sc. in Naval Architecture - U.S. Naval Academy
  • Olin Postdoctoral Fellow in Strategic History, International Security Studies Program, Yale University

Research Focus

The relationships among technology, strategic philosophy, and culture within post-1800 militaries, especially navies

Selected Publications

"Powering the U.S. Fleet: Propulsion Machinery Design and American Engineering Culture, 1890-1945," in New Interpretations in Naval History, ed. Marcus O. Jones (Newport, R.I.:Naval War College Press, 2016).

"Technological Revolution at Sea," in America, Sea Power, and the World, ed. James C. Bradford (Chichester, UK: John S. Wiley & Sons, 2016).

"Nineteenth-Century American Warships: The Pursuit of Exceptionalist Design," in Reinventing the Ship: Science, Technology and the Maritime World, ed. Don Leggett and Richard Dunn (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2012).

“From Measuring Progress to Technological Innovation: The Prewar Annapolis Engineering Experiment Station,” in Instrumental in War: Scientific Research and Instrumentation between Knowledge and the World, ed. Steven A. Walton (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2005).

"Innovation and the Warrior Ethos" in the inaugural issue of Topic magazine published by the Gates-Cambridge Scholars of the University of Cambridge.

Technological Change and the United States Navy, 1865-1945 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).  Received 2002 Engineer-Historian Award presented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International.

Good Night Officially: The Pacific War Letters of a Destroyer Sailor (HarperCollins/Westview (1994) and Texas A&M University Press (2001), a selection of the Military Book Club and on the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy’s Required Reading List for Naval Heritage and Core Values.

Editor, New Interpretations in Naval History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998).

"'Normal' Medical Science and British Treatment of the Sea Scurvy, 1753-75," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 46 (1991).

Current Projects

War, Science and Technology: A History, a book under contract for Cambridge University Press's series, New Approaches to the History of Science and Medicine (completion 2020)

"Superheat: The Social Construction of the Propulsion Machinery that Won World War Two"

"Pursuing a Culture of Engineering Exceptionalism: American Warship Design, 1794—1990"

Selected Professional Awards

Inaugural Edna T. Shaeffer Distinguished Humanist, James Madison University

Engineer-Historian Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International

IEEE Life Members' Prize, Society for the History of Technology

Inaugural Biennial Prize (now the Fishel-Calhoun Prize), Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Moncado Prize for Excellence, Society for Military History

Courses Taught

Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Military and Strategic History

History of Engineering

History of Technology

History of Science

American Naval History

Selected Presentations

Keynote Address, Centennial Celebration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Graduate Program in Naval Construction and Engineering.

Colligan Lecture, Miami University.

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