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Office of the Superintendent/Correspondence: Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1874-1887: Finding Aid

Published in March 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6922
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: RG 405.2.1 Entry 10
  • National Archives Identifier: 2989984
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Archives
  • Title: Office of the Superintendent/Correspondence: Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy
  • Dates: 1874-1887
  • Size: 0.8 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 4 volumes
  • Creator: United States Naval Academy. Superintendent
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: This series contains letters sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy relating to personnel and the administration of the Academy.

History of the Office of the Superintendent

The plan of the Naval School at Fort Severn, Annapolis, Maryland, approved by the Navy Department August 28, 1846, provided that a Superintendent of the school be appointed by the Secretary of the Navy from a list of officers of a rank not higher than commander. The Superintendent was to have responsibility for the general management of the institution, including overseeing the course of study, professors, and other personnel connected with the Academy. He could appoint and remove all persons employed at the Academy except those for whose appointment or discharge special provision was made by the laws or regulations of the Navy or the Academy. He had general charge of the buildings, grounds, and ships belonging to the Academy. The Superintendent also formulated the code of rules and regulations for the internal government of the school to be submitted to the Secretary of the Navy for approval. After 1867, officers were assigned by the Navy Department to the Academy to serve as assistants or aides to the Superintendent.

The Office of the Superintendent as described in the 1846 plan remained relatively unchanged throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Officers of ranks higher than commander, however, have served in the position. This entry contains letters sent by Superintendents Rear Admiral Christopher R. P. Rodgers (1874-1878), Commodore Foxhall A. Parker (1878-1879), Rear Admiral George B. Balch (1879-1881), Rear Admiral Christopher R. P. Rodgers (1881), Captain Francis M. Ramsay (1881-1886), and Commander William T. Sampson (1886-1890).

The period covered by this series begins at the conclusion of Commodore John L. Worden's superintendence (1869-1874). Worden's tenure oversaw substantial post-Civil War demobilization and cuts to the budget of the Navy. The general decline was reflected in the law of July 15, 1870, which changed the status of the Naval Academy midshipmen to "cadet-midshipmen," and that of the two year students to "cadet-engineers." In September, 1874 Worden was relieved by Rear Admiral Christopher R.P. Rodgers. Rodgers, who previously served at the Academy as Commandant of Midshipmen in 1861, clamped down on unauthorized hazing and revamped the curriculum by concentrating professional subjects in the first- and second-class years, and adding upper level electives in math, mechanics, physics and chemistry. Between 1866 and 1902 the site grew from about 16 acres to over 125 acres. The expansion not only renewed and expanded the physical plant but more than tripled the size of the classes graduating after 1904.

In 1862 the Academy was placed under the Bureau of Navigation, but in 1867 the Secretary of the Navy assumed direct control of the school, leaving the Bureau of Navigation with a lesser role, as supervisor of its administrative and financial affairs. This role was eliminated in 1869 but was restored in 1889.

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Description of Contents

This series contains letters sent to the Secretary of the Navy by Superintendents Rear Admiral Christopher R. P. Rodgers (1874-1878), Commodore Foxhall A. Parker (1878-1879), Rear Admiral George B. Balch (1879-1881), Rear Admiral Christopher R. P. Rodgers (1881), Captain Francis M. Ramsay (1881-1886), and Commander William T. Sampson (1886-1890).

Major topics include cadet-midshipmen and cadet-engineer leaves of absence, conduct, discharges, deaths, examinations, resignations, and practice cruises; Regulations concerning and disciplinary action taken against instances of improper uniform, absence without leave, the buying of liquor, hazing and other infractions; reports of academic, examination, medical, visitors, and other boards; staff and faculty examinations, appointments, and pay; Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel transfers, appointments and duties; Amendments to existing academic curricula; inspections of and repairs to yard buildings, and naval vessels assigned to the Academy; investigations into various incidents; graduation certificates; class standings; and fiscal year estimates of expenses for supplies and labor.

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Arrangement

Arranged chronologically. A list of letters sent appears at the beginning of the first two volumes, partial lists (June 1880 - December 1881 and September-October, 1882) are in the last two volumes.

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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

Generally, materials produced by Federal agencies are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. Any non-government publications held herein may still be subject to copyright. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

Other Finding Aid(s)

National Archives Catalog entry available electronically at: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/2989984.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Custodial History

RG 405 Records of the United States Naval Academy is the property of the National Archives and Records Administration. The materials are housed at the United States Naval Academy, William W. Jeffries Memorial Archives, an affiliated archive, as per a Memorandum of Agreement between the National Archives and Records Administration and the United States Naval Academy.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Fair copies made from press copies for the period May, 1882 - May, 1883 are duplicated in Entry 9: "Press Copies of Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1865-1888" (NAID: 2989934). Thereafter, this series contains only summaries of letters sent rather than the entire communication. For letters and press copies of letters sent by other Superintendents to the Secretary of the Navy, Navy Department, Congress, Academy officers instructors and midshipmen, and public and private individuals see entries 1 through 23. For additional earlier letters sent to the same office, see the following entries: Entry 8 "Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy and to Navy Department Bureaus 1864-1865" (NAID:2989240); Entry 9 "Press Copies of Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1865-1888" (NAID: 2989934); and Entry 11 "Press Copies of Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1903-1905" (NAID:2989988).

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Office of the Superintendent/Correspondence: Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, RG 405.2.1 Entry 10

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the historical note:

Sweetman, Jack. The U.S. Naval Academy: An Illustrated History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute Press, 1979.

Processing Information

This collection was inventoried by Samuel Limneos in March 2019. Finding aid written by Samuel Limneos in March 2019. Historical Sketch and Scope and Content Note adapted in part from Inventory of Records Group 405 by Geraldine N. Phillips and Aloha South, 1975.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Balch, George Beall, 1821-1908
  • Parker, Foxhall A. (Foxhall Alexander), 1821-1879
  • Ramsay, Francis Munroe, 1835-1914
  • Rodgers, C. R. P. (Christopher Raymond Perry), 1819-1892
  • Sampson, William Thomas, 1840-1902
  • United States Naval Academy
  • United States Naval Academy -- Hazing
  • United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students
  • United States Naval Academy. Superintendent
  • United States. Office of the Secretary of the Navy
  • Worden, John Lorimer, 1818-1897

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
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Contents List

Volume 1

Volume 50 - Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1874 September 22-1877 July 5

Volume 2

Volume 51 - Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1877 July 10-1880 June 21

Volume 3

Volume 52 - Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1880 June 21-1882 August 31

Volume 4

Volume 53 - Letters Sent by the Superintendent to the Secretary of the Navy, 1882 September 2-1887 March 2

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