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William Renwick Smedberg Papers, 1947-1963: Finding Aid

Published in 1989

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 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.

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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.

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The William Renwick Smedberg Papers are arranged by document type. Smedberg's speeches are arranged chronologically thereunder.

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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.

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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.

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Related Materials

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.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

William Renwick Smedberg Papers, MS 238

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

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.

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Subject Headings

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

Genre Terms

  • Articles
  • Manuscripts
  • Speeches (documents)
  • Visitors' books
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Speech - "Iowa", 1955 May

Address during a visit to Iowa. Smedberg had served as commanding officer of U.S.S. Iowa.

Admiral Smedberg - Speech File, 1956-1957 June

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 1

Smedberg's Assumption of Command as USNA Superintendent, 1956 March 15

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 2

Address to Faculty, 1956 March 26

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 3

Annapolis Alumni Chapter, 1956 April 11

USNA modernization needs: modern airfield, two new wings to Bancroft Hall, new stadium, auditorium, and naval science building. USNA publicity efforts, including 1956 Log issue and TV series.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 4

First Class Midshipmen, 1956 April 12

Smedberg's USNA policies and philosophy; loyalty, integrity, support of sports teams, reinstatement of lost custom of cheering West Point, and dismissal of married midshipmen.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 5

Sounding Board, USNA, 1956 April 12

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 6

Maryland Department Reserve Officers, 1956 May 5

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 7

Mathematics Association, 1956 May 5

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 8

Federal Employees Convention, 1956 May 5

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 9

Historic Annapolis Society, 1956 May 17

Need for USNA expansion and improvements, anti-USNA sentiment in Annapolis.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 10

Graduation, 1956 June 1

Includes Graduation address of Admiral Arthur Radford.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 11

Members of President's Conference on the Fitness of American Youth, 1956 June 18

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 12

Middlesex School, Concord, Massachusetts, 1956 June 5

Smedberg was a Middlesex alumnus.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 13

The Superintendent Reports, 1956 July 10

Published in Shipmate, August 1956. USNA status and plans.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 14

New Instructor Indoctrination, 1956 August 6

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 15

Class of 1960 (Plebes), 1956 August 16

Outline of Plebe and general midshipman life, future activities, and demands.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 16

Plebe Parents' Forum (Class of 1960), 1956 August 25

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 17

Faculty, 1956 September 4

Plebe sponsorship program, USNA mission, Officers Club, faculty support of academics, Superintendent's List, and other faculty matters.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 18

Charity Drive, 1956 September 24

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 19

First Class (1957), 1956 September 26

Smedberg's USNA policies and instructions, his evaluation of the First Class, academics, Plebe indoctrination, military conduct, support of sport teams, and privileges.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 20

National Football Hall of Fame, 1956 September 29

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 21

Navy Day Speech, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1956 October 12

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 22

Introduction of General Maxwell D. Taylor, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1956 October 19

Delivered at the Military Order of World Wars Banquet.

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 23

American Institute of Banking Dinner, Baltimore Chapter, 1957 January 26

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 24

31st Women's Patriotic Conference on National Defense, Washington, 1957 February 1

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 25

Graduation Address: "Modern Military Leadership," Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, 1957 January 18

Speech by Admiral Robert B. Carney, USN (Ret.)

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 26

Alumni Group, Detroit, Michigan, 1957 February 27

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 27

Third Annual Maryland Conference on Citizenship, 1957 April 27

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 28

Corps of Cadets, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, 1957 April 30

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 29

Graduating Class, Naval Preparatory School, Bainbridge, Maryland, 1957 May 17

Box 1 Folder 2 Item 30

Graduation, 1957 June 7

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Admiral Smedberg - Speech File, 1957 July-1958

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 1

Class of 1961 (Plebes), 1957 July 12

USNA Honor Concept, conduct, and Plebe life.

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 2

New Instructor Indoctrination, 1957 July 29

Instructor's responsibilities and relationships with midshipmen.

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 3

Plebe Parents' Forum, 1957 August 24

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 4

Faculty, 1957 September 3

Sponsor program, midshipman privileges, academics, Committee on Civilian Faculty Affairs, and other faculty related topics.

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 5

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.

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 6

Rotary Club of Baltimore, 1957 October 15

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 7

Decommissioning of U.S.S. Reina Mercedes, 1957 November 6

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 8

First Class (1958), 1958 January 10

Notes on honor offenses.

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 9

Graduation, 1958 June 4

Box 1 Folder 3 Item 10

Change of Command, 1958 June 27

Smedberg relieved as USNA Superintendent.

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Speech File (BUPERS), 1960-1961

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 1

Naval Academy Alumni Association, Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, 1960 March 18

Speech entitled "Education in This Navy of Ours."

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 2

Graduates of Class 47, Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island, 1960 April 8

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 3

Proposed Statement Before the Opening Session of the National Naval Reserve Policy Board, 1960 May 16

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 4

Graduates of the Naval Academy Preparatory School, Bainbridge, Maryland, 1960 May 20

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 5

ROTC Graduates of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1960 June 13

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 6

Navy Section of the Reserve Officers Association's National Convention, New York City, 1960 June 30

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 7

Students of the Command and Staff Course, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, 1960 September 9

Speech entitled "Leadership and the Military Commander.

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 8

Class of 1961 (First Class), 1960 October 4

Post-USNA assignments and changing system of assignments, as well as other possible military changes.

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 9

The Colonial Dames, Dumbarton House, Washington, DC, 1961 February 15

Speech entitled "Patriotism, Citizenship, and the Military."

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 10

Graduates of the Navy Supply Corps School, Athens, Georgia, 1961 May 18

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 11

On the Occasion of the Retirement of Rear Admiral Kenneth Craig, U.S. Navy, Commander Fleet Air Jacksonville, 1961 May 31

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 12

Graduates 115th Officers Basic Submarine Class, Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, 1961 September 15

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 13

Class of 1962 (First Class), 1961 September 19

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 14

Detroit Institute of Technology, 1961 October 21

Box 1 Folder 4 Item 15

On the Occasion of the Presentation of the Forrestal Trophy to Naval Reserve Surface Division 3-76, Naval Reserve Training Center, Whitestone, New York, 1961 November 14

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Speech File (BUPERS), 1962-1963

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 1

Dedication of Destroyer School, Newport, Rhode Island, 1962 January 6

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 2

Sixth Annual Winter Workshop for Secondary School Principals, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1962 January 19

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 3

Active Duty Naval Reserve Officers in the Washington Area, Naval Weapons Plant, Washington, DC, 1962 February 8

Policy changes in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 4

Washington Club, 1962 May 2

Speech entitled "Patriotism, Citizenship, and the Military."

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 5

ROTC Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1962 May 21

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 6

Graduates of Class 59, Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island, 1962 June 15

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 7

Launching of U.S.S. Worden (DLG 18), Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, 1962 June 2

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 8

Release of Reservists, U.S.S. Keller, 1962 August 1

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 9

Naval ROTC Orientation Conference, Northwestern University, 1962 August 6

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 10

Naval Reserve Officers Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1962 October 4

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 11

Class of 1963 (First Class), 1962 October 16

Treatment of plebes and unmilitary appearance.

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 12

Naval Academy Alumni Association, Lawyers Club, New York City, 1962 November 12

Speech entitled "Navy Personnel Problems, Present and Future."

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 13

Annual Meeting Norfolk Chapter, American Red Cross, Norfolk, Virginia, 1963 March 20

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 14

Students of the Command and Staff Course, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, 1963 May 8

Speech entitled "Leadership and the Military Commander."

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 15

Commencement Address, Tabor Academy, Marion, Massachusetts, 1963

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 16

37th Annual Convention, Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Miami Beach, Florida, 1963 June 14

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 17

Commissioning of U.S.S. Worden (DLG 18), Boston Naval Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, 1963 August 3

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 18

Fleet Reserve Association, Phoenix, Arizona, 1963 September 17

Pay and benefits for active and retired USN members.

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 19

Annual Convention of the Navy Wives' Clubs of America, Great Lakes, Illinois, 1963 October 6

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 20

ROA "Brass Hats" Dinner-Dance, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1963 November 1

Box 1 Folder 5 Item 21

Graduates of Class 64-2, Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island, 1963 November 22

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Box 2 Folder 1

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).

Box 2 Folder 2

"The Sources of Soviet Conduct", 1947 July

OPNAV p-1033, By "X." Reprinted from the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs and American Quarterly Review.

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