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Nimitz Library

Robert Edward Bassler Papers, 1865-1981 (bulk 1920-1981): Finding Aid

Published in June 2014

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 201
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Robert Edward Bassler Papers
  • Dates: 1865-1981
  • Bulk Dates: 1920-1981
  • Size: 1.29 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 2 manuscript boxes, 1 card file box
  • Creator: Bassler, Robert Edward, 1893-
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Robert Edward Bassler was a Public Works Officer in the United States Navy and a native of Brooklyn, New York. The papers pertain to Bassler's career as a Public Works Officer, the development of airplane arresting gear, and Bassler's personal interests, especially Freemasonry.

Biography of Robert Edward Bassler

Robert Edward Bassler was a Public Works Officer in the United States Navy and a native of Brooklyn, New York. Bassler graduated from Cornell University as a member of the Class of 1917 and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy in 1921. Following service with the Bureau of Construction and Repair, the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard, his duty assignments included service as Public Works Officer at the Coco Solo Submarine Base (1932-1935), Officer-in-Charge of the Civil Engineer Corps Officers' Training School in Rhode Island, Public Works Officer for the Fifteenth Naval District (beginning October 1946), and Public Works Officer at the Norfolk Naval Station. Bassler retired from the United States Navy with the rank of captain in 1953. In his retirement, Bassler resided in Tampa, Florida, where he served as Director of Public Relations at the University of Tampa from 1954 to 1957, as well as secretary-treasurer of the local chapter of the Torch Club.

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Description of Contents

The Robert Edward Bassler Papers, comprising 1.29 linear feet of documentation, span primarily from 1920 to 1981, with several facsimiles dating as early as 1865. The papers pertain to Bassler's career as a Public Works Officer, the development of airplane arresting gear, and Bassler's personal interests, especially Freemasonry.

Included in the papers are incoming and outgoing letters, memoranda, biographical sketches, speeches, articles, newspaper clippings, photographs, design drawings, orders, notes, poems, and cartoons.

The Bassler Papers are predominantly the product of Bassler's career in the United States Navy. Materials pertaining directly to Bassler's work and career include documentation on the development of aircraft arresting gear for landing on aircraft carriers, materials from Bassler's service as Officer-in-Charge of the Civil Engineer Corps Officers' Training School, documents from his service in the Panama Canal Zone, several memoranda written by Bassler on the care of aircraft, items relating to Public Works war planning, Bassler's Navy orders, and several articles written by Bassler. The remainder of the papers consist of documentation of Bassler's personal interests. Bassler's Navy interests represented among the papers include cartoons and caricatures of Navy officers and life, speeches and articles by notable Navy officers, and Navy Day documents. The collection also includes material produced out of Bassler's role as a Freemason, including numerous biographical sketches of American Masons, especially those who served in the military, for use in the publication of The Military Masonic Hall of Fame by National Sojourners.

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The Robert Edward Bassler Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type and topic. A card file is filed at the end of the collection.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted. In 1993, any materials in this collection which may have originally borne security restrictions were examined by S. Brewer, USNA Security Manager, and declared unrestricted and declassified.

Copyright and Permission

The Robert Edward Bassler Papers are 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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Robert E. Bassler in January 1984. Accession No. 84-03. Additional material transferred from The University of Tampa in January 2019.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

There are no other known collections of papers of Robert E. Bassler.

Materials Cataloged Separately

A photograph album entitled "Hurricane : New London, September 1938" has been removed from this collection and cataloged separately as Photo Album 65.

Additional photographs have been removed from this collection and transferred to either the Special Collections Picture File or Transitional Picture File under the following headings: Midway (Large Aircraft Carrier, CVB-41; redesignated CVA-41, 1952); Read, Albert Cushing, 1887-1967; Parsons, Archibald Livingston, 1875-; Gregory, Luther Elwood, 1872-; Parks, Charles Wellman, 1863-; Harris, Frederick Robert, 1875-; Stanford, Homer Reed, 1865-; Hollyday, Richard Carmichael, 1859-; Rousseau, Harry Harwood, 1870-; Endicott, Mordecai Thomas, 1844-; Smith, Norman Murray, 1883-1968; Sheldon, Luther, Jr., 1883-; Ingersoll, Royal Eason, 1883-1976; Crosby, ?; Brydon, George Mclaren, Jr., 1902-1970; Riebe, Herbert Bernard, 1883-1946; McClure, Harry Adrian, 1884-1971; McMullin, Joseph John Anthony, 1885-; Le Breton, David McDougal, 1884-1973; Bassler, Robert Edward, 1893-; Nevada (Battleship : BB-36); Clifton, J.; Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, Pres. U.S., 1882-1945; United States. Navy. Submarine Base, New London, Conn.; Sealion (Submarine : SS-195); Snapper (Submarine : SS-185); Saury (Submarine : SS-189); McCalla (Destroyer : DD-253); Perch (Submarine : SS-176); Pickerel (Submarine : SS-177); Permit (Submarine : SS-178); Seal (Submarine : SS-183); YMT-15 (Motor Tug); R-2 (Submarine : SS-79); C-2 (Submarine : SS-13); R-11 (Submarine : SS-88); V-2 (Fleet Submarine : SF-5); V-4 (Fleet Submarine : SF-7); Thresher (Submarine : SS-200); K-1 (Submarine : SS-32); U.S. Navy. Atlantic Submarine Flotilla, Second Group; Submarine Tenders; Submarine boats -- United States; Ellery W. Niles (U.S. Army Mineplanter); Panama -- History; Gillam, Howard E.; Boland, Micaja, 1877-; Green, Charles Frank, 1889-1968; Panama Canal; Tennessee (Battleship : BB-43); Trenton (Light Cruiser : CL-11); Renown (British Battle Cruiser); Sims, Amor LeRoy, 1896-; U.S. Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, VA; Guadalcanal (Escort Aircraft Carrier : CVE-60); Gallery, Daniel Vincent, 1901-1977; Yorktown (Aircraft Carrier : CV-10; redesignated CVS-10, 1957); Ticonderoga (Aircraft Carrier : CV-14); Simons, Manley Hale, 1879-1963; Slarrow, Malcolm Gordon, 1891-; Leary, Herbert Fairfax, 1891-; Feahr, William J., 1916-; McMullin, Joseph John Anthony, 1885-; Pennoyer, Ralph Gilbert, 1891-; Horton, Mildred Helen McAfee, 1900-; Bellinger, Patrick Neison Lynch, 1885-1962; McCuen, ?; Hornet (Aircraft Carrier : CV-12); Boxer (Aircraft Carrier : CV-21); Aston, Melville Joseph, 1889-; Connor, John, 1899-1954; Greer, Marshall Raymond, 1896-; Airplanes, Military -- Accidents; Akron (Airship); Airplanes, Military; United States. Navy. Submarine School, New London, Conn.; Electric Boat Company, New London, Conn.; Falcon (Submarine Rescue Ship : ASR-2); Tarpon (Submarine : SS-175); Porpoise (Submarine : SS-172); Motor Torpedo Boats -- Great Britain; Skipjack (Submarine : SS-184); Saury (Submarine : SS-189); Spearfish (Submarine : SS-190); Sculpin (Submarine : SS-191); Salmon (Submarine : SS-182); Stingray (Submarine : SS-186); Sargo (Submarine : SS-189); Shark (Submarine : SS-190); Submarine boats -- Germany; United States Naval Air Station, Norfolk, VA -- Bomb Explosion, 17 September 1943; United States Naval Fuel Depot, Melville, R.I. -- Hurricane, 1938; United States Naval Training Station, Newport, R.I. -- Hurricane, 1938; United States Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I. -- Hurricane, 1938; United States. Navy. Submarine Base, New London, Conn. -- Hurricane, 1938; Moffett, William Adger, 1869-1933; Shricker, Henry F.; Maclin, Charles Fearns, Jr., 1901-1973; Roosevelt, Theodore, 1887-1944; Dennett, ?; Shangri-La (Aircraft Carrier : CV-38); Semmes (Destroyer : DD-189); Harding, Warren Gemaliel, Pres. U.S., 1865-1923; and China -- History.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Robert Edward Bassler Papers, MS 201

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed in May 1985. Additional processing by David D'Onofrio in February 2019 Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in June 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Aircraft carriers -- Aircraft launching and recovery equipment
  • Airplanes, Military -- United States
  • Bassler, Robert Edward, 1893-
  • Freemasonry -- United States
  • Freemasons -- United States -- Biography
  • Panama Canal
  • United States, Naval Civil Engineer Corps Officers' School
  • Woodward, Clark Howell, 1877-1967

Genre Terms

  • Articles
  • Card files
  • Cartoons (humorous images)
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Notes (documents)
  • Orders (military records)
  • Photographs
  • Poems
  • Speeches (documents)
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

8 Immortals, 1944, undated

Documents pertaining to the Eight Immortals of Taoism.

Box 1 Folder 2

Airplane Landing Gear Arresting Device, 1920-1924

Includes blueprints and photographs of early arresting gear and photographs of aircraft carrier landing operations.

Box 1 Folder 3

Cartoons, 1944, undated

Box 1 Folder 4

Cornell University, 1914, 1967

Includes a varsity soccer certificate and a poem from the 50th reunion of the Class of 1917.

Box 1 Folder 5

Letterhead, undated

Box 1 Folder 6

Letters (Personal), 1933

Box 1 Folder 7

Lillian Kingsland Bassler Fund, 1980

Box 1 Folder 8

Marine Corps Gazette, 1950-1951

Featuring articles written by Bassler on flying saucers and the use of Marine emblems at Marine Corps posts.

Box 1 Folder 9

Miscellaneous Memorabilia, 1865, 1938-1947

Includes documents pertaining to U.S.S. Alabama, Rear Admiral A.L. Parsons, and Ensign John Small.

Box 1 Folder 10

Miscellaneous Talks, Etc., 1922-1946, undated

Speeches and articles by various individuals on topics such as John Dale Pye Hodapp, Navy Day, the role of the Chief of Naval Operations, naval preparedness, and naval customs. Speakers include Admiral William Halsey, Brent Spence, and Admiral Clark H. Woodward.

Box 1 Folder 11

Miscellany, 1921-1967

Includes excerpts from Josephus Daniels' The Wilson Era, abstracts from Charles Lewis' "Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas," Bassler's "Instructions for the Care and Maintenance of Aircraft," an article on World War I U-Boats, articles from the 1938 Navy Day Series, typescripts of Shipmate articles (possibly by Bassler), correspondence (thank you letters, reference requests, etc.), and a pamphlet on 1938 hurricane damage to the New Haven Railroad.

Box 2 Folder 1

Miscellany, 1921-1967

Includes correspondence (thank you letters, reference requests, etc.), poems, Shipmate articles, a biography of Admiral Joesph Fyffe, material on U.S.S. Dobbin, and a copy of a 1950 speech by Ben Moreell. Several of the documents are marked "CECOS" (Civil Engineer Corps Officer School).

Box 2 Folder 2

Miscellany, 1926, 1975, undated

Includes an article entitled "Aimee" from the San Diego Herald, a letter regarding University President M. Cecil Mackey, and figures on the proposed University of Tampa.

Box 2 Folder 3

Navy Officers, undated

Anecdotes regarding specific U.S. Navy officers and general classes of officers.

Box 2 Folder 4

Panama, 1947-1951, undated

Documents pertaining to weather in the Canal Zone, travel for Navy Dependents, and general information on the Canal, as well as the Fifteenth Naval District's telephone directory.

Box 2 Folder 5

Personal, 1953, 1972, undated

Biographical material and a menu from Bassler's retirement dinner.

Box 2 Folder 6

Orders, 1942-1946

Box 2 Folder 7

Retired Officers Association Tampa Chapter, 1974

Box 2 Folder 8

Spiritual Overhaul Ship, undated

Ship's plans for the fictional U.S.S. Padre church ship.

Box 2 Folder 9

Unidentified Pictures, undated

Photographs of various U.S. Navy officers and vessels.

Box 2 Folder 10

War Plans, 1946-1952

Includes a typescript of an article entitled "A Plea for Realistic War Planning" regarding Public Works Construction, as well as correspondence with Captain R.R. Yates.

Box 2 Folder 11

Writings - Masonry, 1976

Includes brief writings on and Masonic biographical sketches of George M. Cohan, the Military Masonic Hall of Fame, a chronology of 1776, Captain Abraham Whipple, Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune, General James G. Harbord, Vice Admiral Andrew G. Bisset, Pierpont Edwards, Merritt Austin Edson, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Brigadier General John Greaton, Major Samuel L. Rothafel, Peyton Randolph, Brigadier General Otho Holland Williams, New York Chapter No. 13, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., Rear Admiral Charles Peshall Plunkett Robert Lettis Hooper Jr., Major General Samuel Elbert, Rear Admiral Samuel E. McCarty Roland George Mayer, John Blair, Harry S. Truman, the 1783 Papal ban on Masonry, Stanley F. Maxwell, and Major General Mason Mathews Patrick.

Box 2 Folder 12

Writings - Masonry, 1977

Includes brief writings on and Masonic biographical sketches of Freemasonry during the American Revolution, the Constitution, Admiral Ben Moreell, Rear Admiral L. B. Combs, Colonel John H. Cowles, the Medal of Honor, Admiral Marc Mitscher, General Lewis Blaine Hershey, David Brearley, the Grand Lodge Medal, the New Jersey Tea Party, Masonic Lodge membership statistics, Brigadier General Robert Falligant Travis, Alexander Hamilton, Chief Justice Frederick Moore Vinson, Colonel John Marshall Harlan, and patriotism, as well as lists of University Presidents, actors, Medal of Honor recipients, architects, government officials, artists, novelists, organization founders, and Revolutionary War generals and Navy officers who were Masons.

Box 2 Folder 13

Writings - Masonry, 1978

Includes brief writings on and Masonic biographical sketches of Chief Justice Frederick Moore Vinson, Masonic activity in Native American tribes, Alexander Joy Cartwright, a chronology of 1777, Presidential quotations, George Adelbert Newbury, Masonic signs, famous quotations, the Washington Monument, postage stamps honoring Masons, Grand Masters, Masonic associations with currency, Major General Richard Caswell, the Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America (Shriners), the first prayer said in Congress, Brigadier General Edward Hand, the motto In God We Trust, the Mason Dixon Line, Stone Mountain, the National Sojourner Military Masonic Hall of Fame, Masons' thoughts of Freemasonry, Prince Hall, oddities in Masonry, General Daniel (Chappy) James, African American Masons under Prince Hall Grand Lodge jurisdiction, and Papal attitudes towards Masonry, as well as lists of explorers, patriots, civic organization leaders, veterans organization leaders, poets, editors, publishers, Revolutionary War officers, Civil War generals and admirals, inventors, corporate executives, and Catholics who were Masons.

Box 2 Folder 14

Writings - Masonry, 1979-1981

Includes brief writings on and Masonic biographical sketches of Papal attitudes towards Masonry, Scottish Rite Freemasonry, the Red Cross of Constantine, the Military Masonic Hall of Fame, Admiral Ben Moreell, and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

Box 2 Folder 15

Writings - Miscellaneous, 1980-1981

Includes "A Study of the Monroe Doctrine," a biographical sketch of Jerome Clarke Hunsaker, and several works critical of President Jimmy Carter.

Box 3

Card File, undated

Cards indicating various daily and special events, quotes from individuals, and other observations, possibly from the Civil Engineer Corps Officer School (CECOS).

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