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History Department

William M. McBride

History of Science and Technology; History of Engineering; Naval-Military History

  •  Phone: (410) 293-6290 (direct)
  •  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

Technological Change and the United States Navy, 1865-1945 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000 and 2010).  Awarded the 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 1996); (Texas A&M University Press, 2000); (Routledge, 2019 and 2020); selection of the Military Book Club and 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).

"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 and Routledge, 2016).

“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.

"'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 2023)

"The Primacy of the Pacific in Defining American Naval Engineering Culture"

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

Selected Professional Awards and Distinctions

Fellow (Elected), Royal Historical Society

Associate (Elected), Royal Institution of Naval Architects

Inaugural Edna T. Shaeffer Distinguished Humanist, James Madison University

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

IEEE Life Members' Prize in Electrical History (now the Bernard S. Finn IEEE History 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 (now the Vandevort Prize), Society for Military History

Courses Taught

Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Military and Strategic History (e.g., Rise of the Age of Total War, 1815 - 1945 and The Navy in the Age of the Battleship)

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.

Dinner Address, IEEE Annual Electric Ship Technologies Symposium

Colligan Lecture, Miami University.

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