Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

William Buell Franklin Notebook, 1887: Finding Aid

Published in February 2021

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 25
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: William Buell Franklin Notebook
  • Dates: 1887
  • Size: 0.04 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 folder containing 1 volume of 26 leaves
  • Creator: Franklin, William Buell, 1868-1942
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: William Buell Franklin was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1888. The William Buell Franklin Notebook, comprising a single volume of 26 leaves of text, was produced in 1887. Kept while a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy and entitled "Notes on Physics," the notebook includes notes on photography, electricity, and chemistry.

Biography of William Buell Franklin

William Buell Franklin was born on January 26, 1868 in Winchester, Virginia, the son of Walter Franklin of Ashland, Baltimore County, Maryland. Franklin was admitted to the United States Naval Academy from Maryland on May 20, 1884 as a member of the Class of 1888. During his two years of mandatory sea service, he saw duty aboard the protected cruisers U.S.S. Atlanta and U.S.S. Boston, as well as the steam sloops-of-war U.S.S. Richmond and U.S.S. Kearsarge. Detached from his mandatory sea service in May 1890, Franklin was commissioned an Ensign on July 1 of that year. He returned to sea in the spring of 1891, attached to the screw sloops-of-war U.S.S. Lancaster in March 1891 and U.S.S. Marion in May 1892. After serving aboard U.S.S. Miantonomoh (Monitor: BM-5) for the month of October in 1894, he detached from sea service and was ordered to the of Office of the Judge-Advocate General beginning in November 1894. In April 1895, he was ordered to the Naval War College for instruction. Franklin resigned from the United States Navy in May 1896.

Following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Franklin was reappointed from New York with the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) on May 25, 1898. He was subsequently discharged after the end of hostilities on September 17, 1898. During World War I, Franklin returned to active duty yet again. Enrolling in the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander on May 3, 1917, he served as Commanding Officer of the Pelham Bay Naval Training Station through end of the War. William Buell Franklin died in September 1942.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

The William Buell Franklin Notebook, comprising a single volume of 26 leaves of text, was produced in 1887. Kept while a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy and entitled "Notes on Physics," the notebook includes notes on photography, electricity, and chemistry.

The Franklin Notebook is roughly divided into two main sections. The first section, beginning on page 1, is further subdivided into entries on photography and electricity. The subsection on photography discuss attempts to capture photographs of the Chemistry Building and the U.S.S. Passaic using Eastman special plates. In addition to detailing the various camera settings used, Franklin also notes the process for preparing the developer. The subsection on electricity includes notes regarding an experiment in which an air current was passed over a thermopile connected to a galvanometer; the description and use of an Edison dynamo; and the measurement of battery resistance and electromotive force using Mance's Method, the Wheatsone Bridge, Wiedemann's Method, Lumsden's Method, and Poggendorff's Method.

The second section, beginning on page 96, consists of rough notes and equations pertaining to such topics and studies as Franklin's work with batteries using Mance's Method and Poggendorff's Method; calculations regarding Edison dynamos; estimations regarding Barium Chloride and heavy water; acidity and alkalinity; determination of the hardness of water; and flash tests for gunpowder and oils.

Back to Top


The William Buell Franklin Notebook comprises a single volume divided into two sections.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The William Buell Franklin Notebook is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Transfer from Naval Academy Archives in January 2021.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material on William Buell Franklin in this repository includes his Midshipman Conduct Record and Alumni Jacket. A portrait of William Buell Franklin is available in Photo Album 18: [United States Naval Academy : Class of 1888 : photograph album].

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

The William Buell Franklin Notebook was originally housed as part of RG 405.4 Entry 201f: Records of the Division of Mathematics and Science, 1862-1995 (bulk 1862-1982).

Preferred Citation

William Buell Franklin Notebook, MS 25

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel RG 24, National Archives and Records Administration.

United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel. Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1888-1920.

Franklin, William Buell. Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in February 2021. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in February 2021.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Electricity -- Study and teaching
  • Franklin, William Buell, 1868-1942
  • Photography -- Study and teaching
  • United States Naval Academy -- Curricula

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

William Buell Franklin Notebook, 1887

Back to Top