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Kenneth Whiting Papers, 1901-1943: Finding Aid

Published in February 2009

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 294
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Kenneth Whiting Papers
  • Dates: 1901-1943
  • Size: 5 linear inches (1 manuscript box)
  • Creator: Whiting, Kenneth, 1881-1943
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Kenneth Whiting Papers, consisting primarily of correspondence, orders, reports, flight records, and biographical material, span Whiting's U.S. Navy career, covering the years 1901 to 1943. The papers document Whiting's development as an aviator and his pioneering role in the development of naval aviation and the aircraft carrier force.

Chronology of Kenneth Whiting

1881
  • Born July 22 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
1901
  • Appointed to the United States Naval Academy from New York.
1905
  • On January 30, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
  • After graduation, is attached to U.S.S. West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5).
1907
  • On January 31, is commissioned Ensign.
  • In June, is detached from West Virginia and transferred to U.S.S. Concord (PG-3) of the Asiatic Station.
1908
  • In May, is transferred to U.S.S. Supply (schooner-rigged iron steamer).
  • In August, is reattached to U.S.S. Concord.
  • In October, is detached from U.S.S. Concord and transferred to U.S.S. Shark (Submarine No. 8) for fitting out duty at the Naval Station in Cavite, Philippines.
  • On November 20, assumes command of U.S.S. Porpoise (Submarine No. 7). While aboard Porpoise, demonstrates the ability to escape a submarine through its torpedo tubes.
1910
  • In September, is detached from U.S.S. Porpoise and assumes command of U.S.S. Tarpon (Submarine No. 14), operating in the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet.
1911
  • In January, reports to Newport News Shipbuilding Company to fit out U.S.S. Seal (Submarine No. 191/2).
1912
  • On October 28, assumes command of U.S.S. G-1 (submarine).
1914
  • On June 29, reports to the Wright Company of Dayton, Ohio for flight training with Orville Wright.
  • On September 6, is designated Naval Aviator Number 16.
  • Becomes Officer in Charge of the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida.
1916
  • In November, is transferred to U.S.S. Washington (Armored Cruiser Number 11, renamed Seattle on December 1, 1916), and given command of a unit of seaplanes.
1917
  • In May, is transferred to U.S.S. Neptune (collier).
  • In June, travels to France to instruct French pilots.
1918
  • On June 1, assumes command of United States Naval Air Station Number 14 and 15 in Killingholme, England.
1919
  • In February, is assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations' Office of Naval Aviation, Washington, DC.
1921
  • On September 1, transfers to the newly established Bureau of Aeronautics.
1922
  • On March 20, joins U.S.S. Langley (CV-1) as Executive Officer.
1924
  • In July, reports back to the Bureau of Aeronautics, serving first as Assistant Chief of the Bureau, and later as Head of the Aircraft Carriers Division.
1926
  • In September, is ordered to the Brown-Boveri Electric Company in Camden, New Jersey, overseeing the construction of U.S.S. Saratoga (CV-3).
1927
  • On November 16, reports as Saratoga's Executive Officer, serving in that capacity until May 1929.
1929
  • On July 1, is promoted to Captain.
  • In September, joins the staff of Commander Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, as Chief of Staff and Aide.
1930
  • In August, assumes command of the Naval Air Station, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1932
  • In June, is detached from the Naval Air Station at Hampton Roads for instruction at the Naval War College and Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island.
1933
  • On June 15, assumes command of U.S.S. Langley.
  • In December, is relieved of command of U.S.S. Langley to fit out U.S.S. Ranger (CV-4) at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.
1934
  • Is detached from U.S.S. Ranger to help develop plans for U.S. Ships Yorktown (CV-5) and Enterprise (CV-6).
  • In June, assumes command of U.S.S. Saratoga.
1935
  • In July, is detached from U.S.S. Saratoga to become Command Aircraft Squadrons, and attending craft, with additional duty as commander of the Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1937
  • In September, assumes command of Patrol Wing 2, serving in that capacity until June 3, 1938.
1939
  • On July 14, reports for duty as General Inspector of Naval Aircraft, Eastern Division, Third Naval District (New York, New York).
1940
  • On June 30, is transferred to the Retired List, but continues to serve as General Inspector of Naval Aircraft.
1943
  • In February, assumes command of the Naval Air Station, New York, New York, also serving as District Aviation Officer, Third Naval District.
  • On April 24, dies at the Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.
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Description of Contents

The Kenneth Whiting Papers, comprising 5 linear inches of documentation, span Whiting's U.S. Navy career, covering the years 1901 to 1943. The papers document Whiting's development as an aviator and his pioneering role in the development of naval aviation and the aircraft carrier force, as well as his time as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

The papers consist primarily of photocopies of incoming and outgoing letters, orders, order compliance reports, flight records, biographical materials, news clippings, commendations, certificates, court and investigation proceedings, identification, a U.S. House of Representatives Bill, and a will. The collection also includes several original letters written by Whiting.

The Kenneth Whiting Papers are organized into two series. The General Files series comprises the bulk of the collection, and consists entirely of photocopies, primarily of official correspondence. Specific topics covered within the correspondence include the general organization of the aeronautic service; organization of the Naval Air Station at Pensacola; Whiting's licensure as a pilot; engine specifications; seaplane development; arresting gear development; French pilot training; the use of airplanes as bombers during the First World War; submarine based aircraft tests; usage of aircraft carriers as flag ships; preparations for Amelia Earhart's attempted circumnavigation; and Whiting's resume, qualifications, and retirement. Also among the official correspondence are letters and attachments discussing chaplains in the Navy and the conviction of John Hughes Curtis in connection with the Lindbergh kidnapping. Notable correspondents in both the official and unofficial correspondence include Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Admiral William A. Moffett. The remainder of the collection is composed primarily of various other official records, such as reports, orders, court of inquiry proceedings, commendations, certificates of identification and licensure, a will, and legislation. Topics covered by these records include flight tests, the application of aircraft to railroads, accident investigations, the history of naval aviation, and the founding of a separate Air Corps. Also included in the collection are several items pertaining to Whiting's death and funeral, and the launching of U.S.S. Kenneth Whiting (AV-14).

The second series, Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, consists of letters written by Whiting to his mother, Mrs. E. B. Whiting. The letters largely pertain to Whiting's experiences as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. Several additional letters are the product of Whiting's first assignment with the fleet following graduation from the Academy and a later duty assignment in Guam.

In addition to the professional history and personal affiliations of Kenneth Whiting, research interests served by the Whiting Papers include the early history of aviation, specifically United States Naval aviation, the development of aircraft carrier based aerial operations, and Allied aerial operations during World War I.

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Arrangement

The Kenneth Whiting Papers are organized into the following two series:

  • Series 1: General Files, 1914-1943
  • Series 2: Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1901-1927
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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Kenneth Whiting 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 Edna Whiting Nisewaner in November 1993, Mrs. T.A. Nisewaner in April 1997, and Judy Petre in April 2011. Accession Nos. 93-71, 97-19, and 11-05.

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Related Materials

Location of Originals

The location of originals is unknown.

Related Archival Material

Photographs of Kenneth Whiting are located in the Special Collections Transitional Picture File and Oversize Transitional Picture File, Special Collections & Archives Department, Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy. Additional material pertaining to Whiting's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy may be found in his Midshipman Personnel Jacket and Alumni Jacket, Special Collections & Archives Department, Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Kenneth Whiting Papers, MS 294

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in February 2009. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in February 2009. Additional material processed by David D'Onofrio in November 2013

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Subject Headings

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

  • Aircraft carriers -- United States -- History.
  • Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937.
  • Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974.
  • Moffett, William A. (William Adger), 1869-1933.
  • United States Naval Academy -- Curricula.
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students.
  • United States. Navy -- Aviation -- History.
  • Whiting, Kenneth, 1881-1943.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Aerial operations.

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Correspondence.
  • Manuscripts.
  • Orders (military records).
  • Reports.
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Contents List

Series 1: General Files, 1914-1943 Folders 1-40

Series Description

Documents, primarily official correspondence, spanning the bulk of Whiting's career in the United States Navy.

Specific topics covered within the correspondence include the general organization of the aeronautic service; organization of the Naval Air Station at Pensacola; Whiting's licensure as a pilot; engine specifications; seaplane development; arresting gear development; French pilot training; the use of airplanes as bombers during the First World War; submarine based aircraft tests; usage of aircraft carriers as flag ships; preparations for Amelia Earhart's attempted circumnavigation; and Whiting's resume, qualifications, and retirement. Also among the official correspondence are letters and attachments discussing chaplains in the Navy and the conviction of John Hughes Curtis in connection with the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Series Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Box 1 Folder 1

Appointment - U.S. Naval Aeronautic Station Board of Examiners, 1915 April

Box 1 Folder 2

Annual Report on Aeronautics, 1916 January

Box 1 Folder 3

Bill - Creation of United States Air Corp (H.R. 8533), 1926 January

Box 1 Folder 4

Biographical Material, 1943, undated

Includes obituaries, a eulogy, other material relating to Whiting's death and funeral, and a brief memoir by G.S. Gillespie.

Box 1 Folder 5

Certificate of Identification, 1918 April

Box 1 Folder 6

Commendations, 1919-1920

Includes Ordre National de la Legion D'Honneur.

Box 1 Folder 7

Correspondence (Official), 1914

Includes discussions of the organization of U.S. Navy Aeronautic Service and Aeronautic Station (September), engine horsepower (10/8-10/16), an Army airplane competition (10/27), experiments with catapults (11/21 - 12/18), and Whiting's request to the Aero Club of America to be licensed as a seaplane pilot (10/24).

Box 1 Folder 8

Correspondence (Official), 1915 January-April

Includes discussions of AH-9 flight tests (1/7 and 1/21), military/civilian contractor confidentiality (1/12), monetary needs of the station (1/13-1/20), pontoon tests (2/5-2/23), report of an AH-2 accident (3/19), and seaplane records kept by the Aero Club of America (April 29).

Box 1 Folder 9

Correspondence (Official), 1915 June-December

Includes discussions of sea plane experiments with Orville Wright (6/3), Whiting's Aero Club Expert Certificate (6/24), types of aircraft required by the Navy (7/1), requirements for school aircraft (8/17-9/25), trouble with Curtiss motors (9/29), bomb tests (10/8), and record setting flights by R.C. Saufley (11/27, 12/6 and 12/30).

Box 1 Folder 10

Correspondence (Official), 1916

Includes discussions of aircraft engine design and performance (2/2, 2/16 and 2/29) propeller tips (8/10), British seaplane design (9/17), and airplane engagements over Germany and U.S. unwillingness to join the war effort (6/28, 9/9).

Box 1 Folder 11

Correspondence (Official), 1917

Includes discussions of landing seaplanes on ships (3/16), training French pilots, including related certificates and visas (5/12), and a memoranda entitled "Operations with Large Americas and Towing Lighters" regarding bomb attacks on German ports in the North Sea using seaplanes (12/18).

Box 1 Folder 12

Correspondence (Official), 1919

From Captain N.E. Irwin to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding Whiting's foreign service at Killingholme, UK.

Box 1 Folder 13

Correspondence (Official), 1925

Discussions of the organization of aircraft tender U.S.S. Wright (2/7, 2/27, 10/24 and 12/17), the use of an aircraft carrier as flagship (6/28, 8/28) and Billy Mitchell and the promotion of naval aviation (2/3).

Box 1 Folder 14

Correspondence (Official), 1926

Discussions of Eligibility for Promotion of V.C. Griffin (March-April), John B. Chevalier's objection to a separate air service (May), preparations aboard U.S.S. Saratoga (July), and Submarine Based Aviation Tests (September).

Box 1 Folder 15

Correspondence (Official), 1930

Discussion of chaplains in the Navy, including a report to the Archbishop of New York.

Box 1 Folder 16

Correspondence (Official), 1931

History of the Experimental Division.

Box 1 Folder 17

Correspondence (Official), 1932

Includes discussions of the John Hughes Curtis Case (Lindbergh Kidnapping, May-June), arresting gear development (November), and an order of the Virginia State Corporation Commission regarding the Norfolk Airport, Incorporated (February).

Box 1 Folder 18

Correspondence (Official), 1935

Discussion of patrol plane development.

Box 1 Folder 19

Correspondence (Official), 1936

Discussion of shore facility shortages.

Box 1 Folder 20

Correspondence (Official), 1937

Discussion of preparations for Amelia Earhart's first attempt at a circumnavigation flight.

Box 1 Folder 21

Correspondence (Official), 1939-1940

Includes discussions of Whiting's resume (November 1939), physical examinations (December 1939-January 1940), and Whiting's retirement (January-June 1940).

Box 1 Folder 22

Correspondence (Personal), 1914-1932, undated

Correspondents include Mrs. Orville Wright, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, as well as Whiting's wife and mother.

Box 1 Folder 23

Correspondence (Personal) - William A. Moffett, 1929

Box 1 Folder 24

[Diary Entry], circa 1918

Consists of survey of equipment at U.S. Naval Air Station, Killingholme, UK.

Box 1 Folder 25

Flight Records, 1916-1917

Box 1 Folder 26

Hydraeroplane Pilot's Certificate, 1914 December

Box 1 Folder 27

Invitation - Henry C. Mustin Field Dedication, 1926 September

Box 1 Folder 28

Naval [Air] Station Index, circa 1926

Includes list of supplies and amenities.

Box 1 Folder 29

News Clippings, 1914 October

From The Aeroplane regarding British use of Wright Brothers patents.

Box 1 Folder 30

News Clippings, 1943 December

Launch of seaplane tender U.S.S. Kenneth Whiting.

Box 1 Folder 31

Order Compliance Reports, 1914-1937

Box 1 Folder 32

Orders, 1914-1939

Box 1 Folder 33

Photograph - Conference on Limitation of Armament: Committee on Aircraft, circa 1922

Box 1 Folder 34

Record of Proceedings - Investigation of AH-9 Accident and Death of Ensign M.L. Stolz, 1915 May

Box 1 Folder 35

Report - An Application of Aircraft to Railroads, 1922 March

Box 1 Folder 36

Report - Distance and Altitude Flight Tests, 1914 August

Box 1 Folder 37

Slide Presentation Text - History of Naval Aviation, circa 1926

Box 1 Folder 38

Statement of Major General Hanson E. Ely - Air Service Improvement, 1925 October

Box 1 Folder 39

Statements of Account, 1916

Box 1 Folder 40

Will, 1936 February

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Series 2: Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1901-1927 Folders 41-45

Series Description

Letters sent by Kenneth Whiting to his mother, Mrs. E. B. Whiting.

The letters in this series pertain primarily to Whiting's experiences as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, especially with regards to examinations, summer cruises, and football. The letters also deal with Whiting's early assignment aboard U.S.S. West Virginia and duties aboard U.S.S. Supply at Guam.

Series Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Box 1 Folder 41

Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1901

Discussions of courses at the Naval Academy, summer cruise aboard U.S.S. Indiana and U.S.S. Chesapeake, and shooting a shark while on cruise.

Box 1 Folder 42

Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1902

Discussions of examinations, using a phonograph to learn Spanish, changes in the course of instruction, near riot during football against Lehigh, and anticipation of the Army-Navy game.

Box 1 Folder 43

Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1904-1905

Includes discussion of dinners at the Academy and duty aboard U.S.S. West Virginia. Also includes a postcard depicting Fort Monroe.

Box 1 Folder 44

Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1907-1908

Envelope only for 1907. 1908 includes discussions of duty aboard U.S.S. Supply at Apra Harbor, Guam.

Box 1 Folder 45

Mrs. E. B. Whiting Correspondence, 1924, 1927

1924 correspondence is a letter to a woman named Daisy, although addressed to Mrs. E. B. Whiting. Envelope only for 1927.

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