Office of the Commandant/Office of the Command Chaplain: Records of the Command Chaplain, 1853-1990: Finding Aid
Published in October 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: RG 405.3.1 Entry 151i
- National Archives Identifier:
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Archives
- Title: Office of the Commandant/Office of the Command Chaplain: Records of the Command Chaplain
- Dates: 1853-1990
- Size: 36.5 linear feet
- Container Summary: 35 volumes, 4 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box
- Creator: United States Naval Academy. Office of the Command Chaplain
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: The Records of the Command Chaplain, comprising 36.3 linear feet of documentation, span from 1853 to 1990. The records document the history of the Chaplain's activities and religious services, the operations of the Naval Academy Chapel Guild, and topics such as marriages, fundraising, choirs, church parties, funerals, religious programs, Chapel history, the Chapel windows, and select memorial services.
History of the Naval Academy Command Chaplain and Chapel Buildings
The history of the chaplain and the Chapel buildings extends to the founding of the Naval Academy. The first chaplain, Chaplain George Jones reported for duty under Superintendent Franklin Buchanan in October, 1845. In addition to tending to the spiritual needs of personnel at the Academy, Jones had numerous other duties which included curator of the Lyceum, instructor in English, and acting librarian. During these early days of the Academy, in addition to conducting religious services on the yard, chaplains accompanied summer and other training cruises to minister to the midshipmen at sea. Throughout the 19th century, Academy chaplains conducted daily religious services for the midshipmen, faculty, and staff; officiated at graduation; worked in close collaboration with local churches, charity and other Christian organizations; and performed other pastoral work including ministering to the poor and sick, collecting and disbursing alms, organizing Sunday school education, and conducting baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials. During the 20th century, these duties expanded to include rendering services at the United States Naval Hospital, conducting memorials for deceased naval officers and midshipmen, ministering to a diversity of religious faiths, working in collaboration with various midshipman ministries, choirs, clubs, fellowships and organizations, organizing religious education, and overseeing the Academy cemetery and columbarium.
The present Chapel building is the third to be erected solely for religious purposes on the Naval Academy grounds. Between 1845 and 1854 religious services were conducted by Chaplain George Jones in a building located between the present-day Superintendent's house and the Severn River. In addition to hosting religious services, the building served as a recitation hall, midshipmen's mess, and kitchen. The first building specifically designed for religious services, and referred to as the first Chapel, was dedicated by Chaplain Theodore Bartow in February, 1854. A simple structure, built of brick with Ionic columns, the first Chapel could house 300 people, and also served as an assembly hall for debates and lectures. During the Civil War the building was used as an enlisted men's barracks. The first Chapel was converted to a Lyceum in 1868 and later used by the Gunnery Department until it was torn down in 1904. The second Chapel stood near the eastern side of the present Superintendent's Quarters. Dedicated in May, 1868, this Chapel featured arches, vaults, and buttresses in the Gothic style of architecture, complete with a tower and steeple topped with a cross. This second Chapel seated 550 people, and was torn down in 1904 during the reconstruction of the Naval Academy by architect Ernest Flagg. Admiral of the Navy George Dewey laid the cornerstone for the third Chapel in the same year. The third Chapel, with its deep chancel, short nave and wide transepts forming a Greek cross surmounted by a great dome was dedicated by Chaplain Henry Howard Clark in May, 1908. The Chapel as originally designed by Flagg was not complete until 1912, and the remains of John Paul Jones were placed in the crypt beneath the main Chapel floor in 1913. The Chapel as it stands today was enlarged by architect Paul Philippe Cret during 1939 to 1940 by an extension of the nave, affording a new seat capacity of 2,500. The bronze doors and every stone of the old entrance were retained and serve as the entrance to the extension. The present cruciform outline of the floor plan resembles the Latin cross.
Description of Contents
The Records of the Command Chaplain, comprising 36.5 linear feet of documentation, span from 1853 to 1990. The first series, CHAPLAIN'S REGISTER BOOKS, consists of 5 volumes documenting the history of the chaplain's activities, the upkeep and state of the Chapel, religious services, and lists of congregation members, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials collectively from 1853 through 1951. Baptisms, marriages, burials, and church services are documented in separate volumes from 1951 through 1989. The second series, RECORDS OF THE NAVAL ACADEMY CHAPEL GUILD, contain minutes of the guild's monthly meetings, as well as deliberations concerning budgets, maintenance and supply of the Chapel's various required items, and select committees for flowers and upkeep. The third series, CHAPLAIN OFFICE FILES spans 1928 to 1990 and contains Chapel bulletins, some marriage licenses, and correspondence related to various subjects including chaplains, fundraising, choirs, church parties, funerals, religious programs, Chapel history, the Chapel windows, and select memorial services.
The Records of the Command Chaplain are organized into the following three series:
- Series 1: CHAPLAIN'S REGISTER BOOKS, 1853-1990
- Series 2: RECORDS OF THE NAVAL ACADEMY CHAPEL GUILD, 1915-1973
- Series 3: CHAPLAIN OFFICE FILES, 1928-1990
Access and Use
Restricted - Partly. These records must be screened for personal privacy and law enforcement information under 5 U.S.C. 552(b) prior to public release. Per review, select records may be withheld or redacted in accordance with FOIA (b)(6) Personal Information, and FOIA (b)(7) Law Enforcement.
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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
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.
Location of Copies or Alternate Formats
Volumes 1 through 3 of the Chaplain's Registers have been digitized and are available in Trireme at: https://trireme.access.preservica.com/index.php?name=SO_d976a660-d72f-4be9-bc69-d1ab13f579e3.
Related Archival Material
For other records related to the Naval Academy Chapel history and chaplains, see their respective folders in the collection: Naval Academy Archives Reference Files 1845-.
For a copy of a sermon preached before the naval cadets by Chaplain Henry Howard Clark in 1897 see: Albert T. Rich Scrapbook, MS 190.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
Office of the Commandant/Office of the Command Chaplain: Records of the Command Chaplain, RG 405.3.1 Entry 151i
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the historical note:
Giles, Robert E. 1962. History of the Naval Academy Chapel. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Academy. Folder: Chapel History and Publicity. Box 1, Series: Chaplain Office Files. Office of the Commandant/Office of the Command Chaplain: Records of the Command Chaplain, RG 405.3.1 Entry 151i. Special Collections and Archives Department. Nimitz Library. United States Naval Academy.
This collection was processed by Samuel Limneos in October 2019. Finding aid written by Samuel Limneos in October 2019 and updated in September 2021.
Name and Subject Terms
- Bartow, Theodore
- Clark, Henry Howard
- Jones, George, 1800-1870
- Naval education -- United States
- United States Naval Academy
- United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century
- United States Naval Academy -- History -- 20th century
- United States Naval Academy -- Religious life
- United States Naval Academy. Chapel
- United States. Navy -- Chaplains
- United States. Navy -- Religious life
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Programs (documents)
- Registers (Lists)
- Rules (instructional materials)
- Vital statistics records
Series 1: CHAPLAIN'S REGISTER BOOKS, 1853-1990 Volumes 1-30Series Description
The first series, CHAPLAIN'S REGISTER BOOKS consists of 30 volumes. The first three register volumes contain short histories of the Chapel, active chaplains, activities on the yard, congregation sizes, and religious organizations, including the YMCA; Sunday School activities, religious activities, sermons and speeches, holidays, charities, and finances; midshipman training, and religious services performed, in addition to lists of baptisms, marriages and burials. Also included is a list of confirmations, communicants, offerings, and disbursements. At the end of volumes two and three are alphabetical name indices. Included in volume 3 is a historical note regarding the Spanish American War, and miscellaneous ephemera including newspaper clippings related to construction of the new Academy buildings and Chapel. Volume 4 contains ephemera related to the enlargement and dedication of the Chapel in 1940. Volume 5 contains only lists of baptisms, marriages, burials, and offerings.
Volumes 1 through 5 contain sections or lists for active chaplains, divine/religious services, baptisms, marriages, members of the congregation, confirmation/received into full membership, communicants, burials, and offerings. The chaplains Section lists the chaplain's name, denomination, the date they reported for duty, date of detachment, and specific duty. The Divine/Religious Services section lists the date, place, officiating minister, and a remarks section for each service. The Baptism section lists the date and place of the baptism, the Christian and surname of the child, the place and date of the child's birth, the parents' names, names of sponsors or witnesses, and signature of the officiating chaplain. The Marriages section lists the day and date of the marriage, names and residences of the bride and groom, the names and residences of the bride's parents, the signature of the officiating chaplain, and a column for witness names and general remarks. The Members of the Congregation section is generally arranged by member last name and lists the date, name, rank, creed/denomination, and a remarks section for each member. The Confirmation/Received into Full Membership section lists the day and date, names, age, baptism/denomination, and bishop or chaplain officiating. The communicants section lists the day, date, name, and signifies the removal, marriage, or death of the member. The Burials section lists the day and date of the funeral, the name, rank, age, residence, date of death, cause of death, and place of burial of the deceased, and the signature of the officiating chaplain. Not all burials are at the Naval Academy cemetery. The Offerings section lists separate columns for the date, the type and amount of alms received, and the date, reason for and amount of alms disbursed.
After 1951, baptisms, marriages, and burials are recorded separately in volumes 6 through 22. The volume documenting marriages from 1951 to 1954 contains the date, names of witnesses and the officiating chaplain, along with the bride's and groom's names and addresses. Marriages between April 17, 1954 and December 13, 1990 contain the date and place of the marriage; the name, age, residence and status (bachelor, divorced, or widow) of the bride and groom, and the names of their parents; names, signatures and addresses of the witnesses; and signature of the officiating minister. There are name indices in the beginning of each volume. Occasionally, some correspondence is mounted in the registers related to requests for copies of records. Volumes 23 through 27 contain registers of church services that list the date, day, type of service, place, hour, and number attending and the celebrant or officiant, preacher, and server initials. Related memoranda accompany some of these records. Occasionally, there are special remarks. Volume 28 is a budget log listing separate columns for receipts and expenditures. Volumes 29 and 30 are registers of visitors to the Naval Academy Chapel, listing the date, names, and residences of signing visitors. Volume 29 is signed largely by visiting navy officials from foreign countries.Series Arrangement
Arranged by type of service, and thereunder chronologically.
Volume 1 - Chaplain's Register, 1853-1882
Included in the front cover are lists detailing academic board members, academy officers, professors, and staff personnel, and midshipmen of the classes of 1846, 1847 and 1848 preparing for examination for the academic years 1853 and 1854; Funerals: January 24, 1853 - June 6, 1882; Baptisms: 1854- January 13, 1883; Marriages: April 17, 1855 -1881; Confirmations: January 7, 1866 - May 14, 1882; Discourses (sermon Scriptural text or subject): January 4, 1861 - November 26, 1871, and October 5, 1873- June 18, 1876; and Communion Alms: October 12, 1873 - June 4, 1876.
Volume 2 - Chaplain's Register, 1882-1890
Religious Services: October 1, 1882 - August 10, 1890; Congregation Members: October 1, 1882 - October, 1890; Baptisms: November 12, 1882 - June 1, 1890; Confirmations: March, 1886; Communicants: October 1882 - 1890; Marriages: May, 1885 - October, 1887; Burials: February 26, 1884 - May 13, 1889; Offerings: October, 1882 - May, 1890; Contains a narrative history of the period documenting renovations to the chapel, summer cruises and chaplain assignments, chapel seating assignments, the chapel midshipman choir and choir leadership, the chapel fund and expenditures; church services and service attendance; Sunday school; the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA); contributions of women; charities; bible classes.
Volume 3 - Chaplain's Register, 1890-1923
Religious Services: September 7, 1890 - June 26, 1921; Congregation Members: October, 1894 - June, 1898; Confirmations: April, 1896; Communicants: 1894 - 1896; Marriages: September 26, 1896 - October 24, 1923; Burials: April 9, 1895 - February 6, 1923; Offerings: October 1890 - October 1923; Included in this volume's history section, in addition to elaboration of the same categories of volume 1 are descriptions of the mood and activities at the Academy during the Spanish-American War, and the construction and dedication of the new Academy buildings and Chapel between 1899 and 1908.
Volume 4 - Chaplain's Register, 1921-1951
This volume's History section, in addition to elaboration of the same categories of volumes 1 and 2, begins with newspaper clippings and a short narrative describing the death, burial and memorial of former Chaplain Henry Howard Clark, 1890-1911. Also included are correspondence from the Train family regarding the origination of the hymn "Eternal Father Strong to Save," in Naval Academy religious services donations of gifts to the Chapel; programs, photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, the enlargement and dedication of the enlarged Chapel in 1940; Religious Services: September 11, 1921 - May 20, 1951; Baptisms: October 18, 1921 - May 6, 1945; Marriages: May 17, 1924 - December 20, 1941; Burials: January 21, 1924 - December 13, 1950; Offerings: October, 1923 - December, 1945.
Series 2: RECORDS OF THE NAVAL ACADEMY CHAPEL GUILD, 1915-1973 Volumes 31-35Series Description
The Naval Academy Chapel Guild was established in 1915 to manage the financial resources for, and make administrative decisions regarding maintenance and supply of the Naval Academy Chapel, as well as community activities, and social and religious events on the yard. Guild monthly meetings generally took place at the Superintendent's house. The minutes of the Chapel Guild contain deliberations of issues discussed in the Chapel Guild committee, a list of guild members and their positions, and treasury reports. The majority of the deliberations relate to supplying the Chapel with needed items, preparation for religious holiday services, and services rendered by various committees. Included in volume 4 are some correspondence and newspaper clippings. Volume 5 contains lists of Chapel Guild members and a record of their attendance at monthly meetings.Series Arrangement
Arranged by record type, and thereunder chronologically.
Series 3: CHAPLAIN OFFICE FILES, 1928-1990 Boxes 1-5Series Description
The third series CHAPLAIN OFFICE FILES, consists of schedules, photographs, correspondence, memoranda, lists, pamphlets, service programs, bulletins, notices, instructions, newspaper clippings, and marriage licenses. The office files relate to various subjects including choirs, chaplains, church parties, fundraisers, religious programs, religious and memorial services; Chapel history and publicity; and the dedication of windows, rails, memorial plaques, historic prayer books and Bibles, altar hangings, fonts, and other elements in the Naval Academy Chapel. There are select marriage licenses and associated personal records, including baptismal and confirmation certificates for marriages performed at the Naval Academy from 1951 to 1952, and 1968 to 1971.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by document type and topic.
Correspondence, Memorials, Newsletters, etc., 1956-1992
Includes several letters of appreciation for divine services from past Naval Academy Superintendents at the time of their detachment mounted on cardboard. Also included are pamphlets and programs for memorials held at the Chapel for deceased naval officers and midshipmen. Additionally, the folder contains chapel newsletters.
Contains "Dedication of the Commission Invisible" window 1928; "Dedication of the Pulpit and Chancel Rail" 1943; Dedication of the Chapel at United States Naval Station, Annapolis, 1948; and Dedication of Memorial Plaques for Medal of Honor awardees Baldomero Lopez and Robert Dale Reem (Korean War) 1954; Also contains several memorial service programs.