William Renwick Smedberg Papers, 1947-1963: Finding Aid
Published in 1989
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 238
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: William Renwick Smedberg Papers
- Dates: 1947-1963
- Size: 0.63 linear feet
- Container Summary: 1 manuscript box, 1 half-manuscript box containing 79 items
- Creator: Smedberg, William Renwick, III, 1902-1994
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: William Renwick Smedberg III was a Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1926, having served as Chief of Naval Personnel, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, and Superintendent of the Naval Academy. The Smedberg Papers, consisting of speeches, a guest album and a periodical reprint, are primarily the product of the above mentioned offices.
Biography of William Renwick Smedberg, III
The son of Louise (Chaffin) Smedberg and Brigadier General W.R. Smedberg, U.S. Army, William Renwick Smedberg, III was born on September 28, 1902. He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1922 and was graduated and commissioned Ensign in 1926. Through "exceptional administrative ability, sound judgment, and deep understanding of people," he rose to the rank of Vice Admiral in 1959.
Following graduation, Smedberg attended the Academy's summer aviation course. In the following years, his duties included: service aboard the ships U.S.S. New Mexico, Mullany, and Northampton; a communications course; Postgraduate School, Annapolis; and various assignments as a Radio Officer. In 1942, he was selected Aide to the Chief of Naval Operations.
During World War II, Smedberg served as commanding officer of U.S.S. Lansdowne and U.S.S. Hudson; Chief of Staff to Commander Task Force 39 and Cruiser Division 12; and as U.S. Fleet Combat Intelligence Officer. His outstanding wartime service earned him several medals.
In 1946, Smedberg was chosen Aide to the Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. He later held various destroyer-related posts, commanded U.S.S. Iowa, served as Electrical Engineering Department Head at the Naval Academy, and worked as Director of the Navy's Politico-Military Policy Division. His service during the Korean conflict earned him another Gold Star.
In 1956, Smedberg was appointed Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and Commandant of the Severn River Naval Command. During his tour at the Academy, Smedberg's goals were to ameliorate the Academy's needs in the following areas: addition of two wings to Bancroft Hall; secure adequate funding and personnel to accomplish accumulated and current USNA maintenance; acquisition of additional land for athletics, drill, and recreation through hydraulic fill and the removal of the dilapidated Thompson Stadium; improved salary scale for civilian faculty; and provision for modern aviation facilities. As Superintendent, Smedberg emphasized academics, military conduct, adherence to the Honor Code, support of sports teams, improved Plebe-First Class relations, broadening of First Class privileges, and the provision of good role models by Academy officers.
Smedberg left the Academy in 1958 to become Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet. The following year, he was chosen as Commander Second Fleet and Commander Striking Fleet, Atlantic.
From 1960 through 1964, Vice Admiral Smedberg served concurrently as Chief of Naval Personnel, Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Personnel and Naval Reserve). During this period, his programs improved the quality, standards, and morale of Navy personnel and helped to provide U.S.N. personnel with adequate compensation, benefits, and equal opportunity. Smedberg's efforts resulted in increased personnel retention rates for the Navy. For this service, Smedberg received the Distinguished Service Medal.
Vice Admiral Smedberg retired from the Navy in 1964. William Renwick Smedberg, III died on October 5, 1994 in Falls Church, Virginia.
Description of Contents
The William Renwick Smedberg Papers, consisting of 0.63 linear feet of documentation, span from 1947 to 1963. The papers consist of Smedberg's speeches, a guest book, and a periodical article, largely hailing from his time as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and as Chief of Naval Personnel.
The majority of the collection is composed of Admiral Smedberg's speech files. One speech is from 1955, with the remainder covering the years 1956 through 1958 (his tour as Superintendent of the Naval Academy) and 1960 through 1963 (his tour as Chief of Naval Personnel, Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations). Smedberg's speeches as Superintendent, particularly those delivered to midshipmen, faculty, and alumni, offer a view of the activities, issues, needs, practices, policies, and philosophies of the Naval Academy. Many of the speeches also touch upon the topics of naval leadership and citizenship. The guest album, which is also from the period of Smedberg's Superintendency, contains the signatures of various foreign and domestic dignitaries.
The William Renwick Smedberg Papers are arranged by document type. Smedberg's speeches are arranged chronologically thereunder.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The William Renwick Smedberg 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gifts of Vice Admiral William R. Smedberg, III in December 1986 and March 1987. Accession Nos. 86-53 and 87-09.
Related Archival Material
Additional material pertaining to Smedberg's career and time as a midshipman may be found in his Midshipman Personnel Jacket (sealed until 2026) and Alumni Jacket. Official records of Smedberg's time as Superintendent of the Naval Academy comprise parts of Entry 39b of RG-405, Records of the United States Naval Academy. Both are available at Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
William Renwick Smedberg Papers, MS 238
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1989. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1989 and revised by David D'Onofrio in May 2014.
These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.
Name and Subject Terms
- Leadership -- United States
- Smedberg, William Renwick, III, 1902-1994
- United States Naval Academy -- Students
- United States Naval Academy. Superintendent
- United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel
- United States. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
- Speeches (documents)
- Visitors' books
First Class (1958), 1957 September 9
Superintendent's List, enhanced Color Company award, aptitude standings, ended First Class privileges, First Class-Plebe relations, married or co-habiting midshipmen, automobile privileges, poor academic reputation of First Class, support of sports teams and of West Point.
Guest Book of William Renwick and Claudio Smedberg, 1956 March 15-1958 June 19
Includes signatures for guests attending Smedberg's installation as USNA Superintendent, Foreign Naval Attaches' Receptions, sports-related events, Commissioning Weeks, 30th Reunion Class of 1926, holidays, Memorial Stadium Groundbreaking Day, visits by foreign dignitaries, parties, and other occasions.
Signers include prominent American and foreigners, such as foreign naval attaches, military figures, ambassadors, educators, USNA Board of Visitors members, and USNA staff.
Specific signers include: Maryland Governor Theodore McKeldin (1956 March 15 and 1958 March 1); Indonesian President Sukarno (1956 May 21-22); Vice President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon (1956 June 18-19); King Saud and Princes of Saudi Arabia (1957 February 2); and physicist Edward Teller (1958 February 28).