Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

Frederick Collins Diary, 1874-1904 (bulk 1874): Finding Aid

Published in 1996

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 311
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Frederick Collins Diary
  • Dates: 1874-1904
  • Bulk Dates: 1874
  • Size: 0.21 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 half-manuscript box containing 119 leaves
  • Creator: Collins, F. (Frederick), 1847-1881
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Frederick Collins was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1867. The Frederick Collins Diary, kept by Collins primarily while serving as an instructor at the United States Naval Academy in the Department of English Studies, History and Law, is composed of entries pertaining to Collin's teachings and studies, professional affiliations, writings, acquaintances, and personal matters. Also included are mentions of Collin's involvement in surveying the Isthmus of Darien (Panama), and genealogical information on the Collins family.

Biography of Frederick Collins

Frederick Collins, a career U.S. Navy officer, was born on April 9, 1847 at Calais, Maine and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1863 from the same. Collins, USNA 1867, achieved the rank of cadet lieutenant commander while at the Academy, and graduated third in his class of eighty-seven.

During the 1870s, Frederick Collins was a prominent participant in the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) surveys conducted by the U.S. Navy to determine feasible routes for an interoceanic ship canal. After having served as a member of the Navy's 1873 expedition, LT Collins was named commander of the 1875 Napipi Survey Expedition. In between his two assignments to Panama, Collins served as an Assistant Instructor in the Department of English Studies, History and Law at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1873 to 1874. Following his service with the second Darien Expedition in 1876, Collins was assigned to the Coast Survey as commanding officer of the schooner Palinurus. After separating from the Coast Survey in the summer of 1880, he was attached to the training ship Saratoga, during which time he designed an apparatus for deep-sea soundings.

While on survey work in the Isthmus of Darien, Collins contracted a near-fatal case of Chagres fever, which permanently affected his health and contributed to his death on October 27, 1881 at Washington, DC. LT Frederick Collins was survived by a widowed mother, a wife, and his children.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

The LT Frederick Collins Diary, 1874-1876, is a photocopy of a holographic diary kept by Collins from March 20 through November 29, 1874, primarily while serving as an Assistant Instructor in the Department of English Studies, History and Law at the U.S. Naval Academy. The diary also covers a period after Collins' detachment from the Academy when he was on leave in Portland, Maine and in Washington, DC on professional matters.

The Collins Diary consists of brief notations of daily professional and personal matters and events, including Collins' teaching, personal readings and studies, Collin's lectures and articles for periodicals and professional groups, Collin's association with the American Geographical Society and the United States Naval Institute, social and professional acquaintances, correspondence, finances, the birth of his daughter, and lung problems. Specific events mentioned by Collins while at the Naval Academy include a visit from the Governor of Maryland (April 11), the Naval Academy Board of Visitors visit 9May 20-28), and Academy graduation exercises (May 30).

In addition to his work at the Naval Academy, the diary contains mentions of the Navy's intent for Collins to command an upcoming survey expedition to the Isthmus of Darien (Panama).

Included at the front of the diary is a Memoranda of Collins Family History, which includes genealogical information through 1904. At the end of the diary is a newspaper clipping from the Calais Advertiser regarding Collins' deep-sea sounding apparatus.

Back to Top


The Frederick Collins Diary comprises a single volume. Entries within the diary are arranged chronologically.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Frederick Collins Diary is 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.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Sharon Howland in June 1995. Accession No. 95-35.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Material pertaining to Collins' time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, including a photograph of Collins, may be found in his Conduct Record, Alumni Jacket, and Class of 1867 Photograph Album (Photo Album 9) in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Frederick Collins Diary, MS 311

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1996. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1996 and revised by David D'Onofrio in December 2013.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Collins, F. (Frederick), 1847-1881
  • Darien Canal
  • Napipi Expedition, 1875
  • Panama Canal (Panama)
  • Panama Expedition, 1875
  • United States Naval Academy -- Curricula
  • United States Naval Academy. Department of English, History and Government

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Frederick Collins Diary, 1874-1904

Back to Top