Wilson Brown Papers, 1902-1956: Finding Aid
Published in December 2013
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 228
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Wilson Brown Papers
- Dates: 1902-1956
- Size: 5.33 linear feet
- Container Summary: 8 manuscript boxes, 1 flat box, 1 microfilm box, 2 oversize folders
- Creator: Brown, Wilson, Jr., 1882-1957
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: Wilson Brown was an admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1902. The Wilson Brown Papers pertain to Brown's United States Navy career, including his service on destroyers during World War I, as Naval Aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a task force commander in the Pacific in World War II, and as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. The papers consist of correspondence, speeches, war diaries, notebooks, news articles, photographs, maps, and ephemera.
Biography of Wilson Brown
Vice Admiral Wilson Brown was born in Philadelphia on April 27, 1882, and was appointed to the Naval Academy from New Jersey in 1898. He served aboard the U.S.S. San Francisco (Protected cruiser : C-5)and the U.S.S. Albany (Protected cruiser)in 1902 and in late 1903 was transferred to the destroyer U.S.S. Preble (Destroyer : DD-12). After serving aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Perry (Destroyer : DD-11) and U.S.S. Dubuque (Gunboat : PG-17), he was ordered to duty at the Naval Academy where he served as an instructor in the Department of Physics and Chemistry from October 1907 until June 1908. He had duty in connection with training the crew of the U.S.S. Montana (Armored cruiser : ACR-13) and served aboard her for two years after she was placed in commission. From July 6, 1911, until August 30, 1913, Brown served as Aide to the Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, and from September 1913 until May 1915, he served as Ordnance Officer of the U.S.S. Connecticut (Battleship : BB-18). He was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from 1915 until January 2, 1918, when he was ordered to Queenstown, Ireland, for duty with the destroyer force. After serving in London on Admiral Sims' staff, Brown assumed command of the U.S.S. Parker (Destroyer : DD-48) and was subsequently awarded the Navy Cross. Vice Admiral Brown completed the Naval War College course in 1921 and was attached to the Office of Naval Operations from 1921 to 1923, after which he was ordered to duty as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. Colorado (Battleship : BB-45). In 1924 he served as Aide on the Staff of the Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet, and was Naval Aide to the President of the United States and Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Mayflower (Yacht : PY-1) from April 1926 until April 15, 1929. He was Commanding Officer of the Submarine Base at New London, Connecticut, with additional duty in command of submarines at the Base for three years. In January 1932, Brown assumed command of the U.S.S. California (Battleship : BB-44), on which duty he remained until September 1933, when he was ordered to the naval War College in Newport as Chief of Staff. He reported as Naval Aide to the President in 1934 and assumed command of the Training Squadron, Scouting Force, on May 26, 1936. He was in command of the Midshipmen's Practice Cruise during the summer of 1936 and 1937. On July 1, 1937, the Training Squadron was renamed the Training Detachment, U.S. Fleet. Brown was detached from that command on January 5, 1938, and on February 1, 1938, reported for duty as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. On February 1, 1941, he assumed duty as Commander, Scouting Force, with the rank of Vice Admiral. Brown served as Task Force Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet until July 1942, when he assumed duties as Commandant, First Naval District and Boston Navy Yard. On April 28, 1942, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Vice Admiral Brown was detached from duty as Commandant, First Naval District on January 15, 1943, and reported as Naval Aide to President Roosevelt early in February 1943. As Aide, Brown accompanied President Roosevelt on his various official visits to Mexico, Cairo, Tehran, Malta, Canada, Hawaii, Oregon, and Yalta. He was retired by medical survey in December 1944, but continued on active duty as Aide to the President until May 1945. Vice Admiral Wilson Brown died at the Submarine Base Hospital, New London, Connecticut, on January 2, 1957.
Description of Contents
The Wilson Brown Papers, comprising 5.33 feet of documentation, span from 1902 to 1956 and cover the entirety of Wilson Brown's career in the United States Navy in varying levels of detail. The papers focus primarily on Brown's service as Naval Aide to the President of the United States, as a destroyer officer in World War I, as a Task Force commander during World War II, and as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.
The papers include incoming and outgoing letters, naval dispatches, memoranda, orders, logbooks, notebooks, war diaries, maps, charts, schedules, event programs, and photographs.
The Wilson Brown Papers are organized into seven series by document type and duty station. Two series focus on specific duty station. Series 6: Files as Naval Aide to the President covers Brown's duties as Aide to President's Coolidge, Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, although the bulk of the material pertains to Brown's two tours as Aide to Roosevelt in the 1930s and in 1944-1945. Series 5: Files as Scouting Force and Task Force Commander covers Brown's role as a commander in the Pacific Fleet during the lead up to and early days of World War II, including the actions of and ultimate loss of U.S.S. Lexington (Aircraft carrier : CV-2). The remaining five series are arranged by document type. Series 1: Personal Files, and Series 2: Orders and Official Correspondence contain Brown's personal and official correspondence during his U.S. Navy career, although a majority of the material is the product of Brown's service during World War II. Series 3: Speeches and Writings, contains Brown's writings and speeches from through his career, especially those speeches delivered while serving as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Additional documentation of Brown's Superintendency can be found in Series 7: Photographs. The photographic series also includes materials from Brown's time as Naval Aide to President Roosevelt. The remaining series, Series 4: Subject Files, is composed of materials pertaining to some of Brown's interests, as well as what little additional documentation exists of Brown's service in World War I, as Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, and as Commander of the Training Squadron.
The Wilson Brown Papers are organized into the following seven series:
- Series 1: Personal Files, 1941-1954
- Series 2: Orders and Official Correspondence, 1902-1952
- Series 3: Speeches and Writings, 1931-1956
- Series 4: Subject Files, 1918-1955
- Series 5: Files as Scouting Force and Task Force Commander, 1941-1945
- Series 6: Files as Naval Aide to the President, 1923-1945
- Series 7: Photographs, 1918-1944
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted. All papers originally bearing security restrictions were examined by S. Brewer, USNA Assistant Security Manager, and declared unrestricted and declassified in 1993.
Copyright and Permission
The Wilson Brown 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.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Two of Wilson Brown's writings require the use of a microfilm reader.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of Mrs. Wilson Brown in 1958.
Related Archival Material
Materials pertaining to Wilson Brown's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy may be found in his Conduct Record, Personnel Jacket, and Alumni Jacket in the Naval Academy Archives, Nimitz Library. Materials produced by Brown while Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy may be found in RG-405, Records of the United States Naval Academy. Additional manuscript material produced by Wilson Brown may be found in the Wilson Brown Papers, 1935-1955, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection.
Processing and Other Information
Wilson Brown Papers, MS 228
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in December 2013. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in December 2013. Biographical sketch by Mary R. Catalfamo in July 1986.
Name and Subject Terms
- Brown, Wilson, Jr., 1882-1957
- Commencement ceremonies -- Maryland -- Annapolis
- Mayflower (Yacht)
- Parker (Destroyer : DD-48)
- Potomac (Yacht)
- Presidents -- United States -- Staff
- Quincy (Heavy cruiser : CA-71)
- Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
- United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
- United States Naval Academy. Superintendent
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval Operations, American
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal Narratives, American
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Congresses
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Pacific Ocean
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval Operations, American
- Yalta Conference (1945)
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Maps (documents)
- Nautical charts
- Orders (military records)
- Ships' logs
- Speeches (documents)
Series 1: Personal Files, 1941-1954 Boxes 1-2Series Description
Letters received and copies of letters sent by Wilson Brown during and shortly after his career in the United States Navy. Although mostly sent in an official capacity, the letters are primarily of a personal nature, and include letters of thanks, introduction, and recommendations, as well as covering topics such as the receipt of gifts, personal purchases, requests for favors in the line of duty, and invitations. The Semi-Official Personal Files, which hail primarily from Brown's time as commanding officer of the Pacific Fleet Scouting Force and Pacific Fleet Amphibious Force in the opening days of World War II, include more official materials, covering topics such as fleet exercises, staffing requirements, equipment needs, and ship availability. Much of the Miscellaneous Correspondence pertains to Naval Aides to the President.Series Arrangement
Arranged into three sequences: Personal Files, Semi-Official Personal Files, and Miscellaneous Correspondence, thereunder arranged chronologically.
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1944-1954, undated
Includes correspondence with Administrative Assistant to the President George M. Elsey and Naval Aide to the President Edward L. Beach regarding instructions for Naval Aides, as well as materials on the disposition of the Kuril Islands per the Yalta agreement and records of the Pacific Council.
Series 2: Orders and Official Correspondence, 1902-1952 Box 3Series Description
Orders and other official correspondence, such as notices of promotion, citations, and leaves of absence, received by Brown throughout his career in the U.S. Navy. Among the orders is a 1935 signed note from President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding the naming of the presidential yacht U.S.S. Potomac.Series Arrangement
Series 3: Speeches and Writings, 1931-1956 Boxes 3-4Series Description
Speeches and writings written and delivered by Wilson throughout and after his U.S. Navy career. The speeches spanning from 1938 through 1940 were delivered while Wilson was serving as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and include addresses to the Naval Academy Christian Association, speeches to specific classes, dedications, and graduation ceremonies. Speeches delivered throughout the remainder of Wilson's career include remarks on Armistice Day, the launching of U.S.S. Lexington (Aircraft carrier : CV-16), the First New England War Conference, the launching of U.S.S. Cubera (Submarine : SS-347), a commemoration of Robert Henry Thurston, and the 1944 graduation of the California Institute of Technology. Among the speeches are incoming and outgoing letters, and handwritten notes.
Brown's writings, including five periodical articles, one book review, and two manuscripts, pertain to Brown's role as Naval Aide to the President, Allied war planning during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the role of the Navy in American development, the Marshall Plan and American workers in Europe, and Samuel Eliot Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Included with the writings are incoming letters and newspaper clippings. Two of Brown's works are on microfilm.Series Arrangement
Organized into two sequences: speeches and writings. Speeches arranged thereunder chronologically, writings arranged thereunder alphabetically by title.
Series 4: Subject Files, 1918-1955 Boxes 4-5, 10[OS] and MSOSSeries Description
Files kept by Wilson Brown regarding the two World Wars, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Brown's career in the United States Navy. More specifically, the files pertain to awards received by Brown, Brown's relationship with Franklin Roosevelt, the Presidential Seal, Naval Academy midshipman cruises, and Brown's U.S. Navy service during World War I and at the Boston Navy Yard. Included in the series are incoming and outgoing letters, memoranda, dispatches, newspaper clippings, publications, handwritten notes, schedules, event programs, song lyrics and music, identification cards, postal cachets, charts, and war diaries.
In part, the files are the product of Brown's duties as a destroyer officer during World War I, Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, and as Commander of the Training Squadron.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by document topic and type.
Series 5: Files as Scouting Force and Task Force Commander, 1941-1945 Box 5 and MSOSSeries Description
Documentation of Brown's command of the United States Pacific Fleet Scouting Force, Task Force Three, and Task Force Eleven in the days leading up to and during World War II. The materials pertain to the Salamaua-Lae Raid, attacks on Gasmata and Rabaul, landing operations, the Eastern Mandates (Marshall Islands), forces in the ANZAC area, reconnaissance missions to Siberia and the Aleutians, training exercises, command structure, and the operations of U.S.S. Lexington (Aircraft carrier : CV-2). Included in the series are letters, memoranda, dispatches, reports, charts, and rosters.
Among the memoranda in the series are copies of memoranda between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Orders and additional official correspondence from Brown's service during World War II can be found in Series 2: Orders and Official Correspondence. Personal correspondence from this time period can be found in Series 1: Personal Files.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by duty station and document type or topic.
Series 6: Files as Naval Aide to the President, 1923-1945 Boxes 5-8Series Description
Documentation of Brown's tours of duty as Naval Aide to Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The documents in the series deal predominantly with cruises taken by President Franklin Roosevelt, and to a lesser extent with the Yalta Conference, the operations of Presidential yacht U.S.S. Mayflower under President Coolidge, and the general responsibilities of the Naval Aide to the President. Included in the series are dispatches, logbooks, itineraries, memoranda, letters, visitor cards, invitations, event programs, guest lists, and notebooks.
The Presidential cruise materials cover cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Florida, Panama, and the Crimea, and include dispatches and correspondence pertaining to arms embargoes to Europe, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the Resettlement Administration, the 1936 floods, a 1936 finance conference, the Yalta Conference, and the subsequent Quincy Agreement. Brown's personal thoughts and recollections for this time period can be found in his notebooks.
Orders and additional official correspondence from Brown's second tour as Naval Aide to President Roosevelt can be found in Series 2: Orders and Official Correspondence. Personal correspondence from this time period can be found in Series 1: Personal Files.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by topic.
Notebook, 1934 June 1-1936 May 22
Includes entries on Presidential cruises and other trips, New Deal projects, labor disputes, the Newport Races, the Supreme Court ruling on the National Recovery Act, receiving foreign heads of state, the national debt, and comments on the President's mood, demeanor, and abilities.
Series 7: Photographs, 1918-1944 Boxes 8 and 10[OS]Series Description
Photographs, primarily black-and-white, depicting Brown's career in the United States Navy. The photographs are largely the product of Brown's tours as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and Naval Aide to President Franklin Roosevelt, and focus on the Academy's June Week festivities of 1939, the Cairo Conference, the Tehran Conference, and President Roosevelt's visits to Ottawa, Monterrey, and a war production plant. The series also includes portraits of Wilson Brown and photographs of several naval vessels, including the French ship Senegalaise.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by topic.