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Nimitz Library

Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks, 1910-1943 (bulk 1910-1911): 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 323
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks
  • Dates: 1910-1943
  • Bulk Dates: 1910-1911
  • Size: 0.21 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 half-manuscript box containing 3 items
  • Creator: Watt, Richard Morgan, 1872-1938
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Rear Admiral Richard Morgan Watt was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1891. The letterbooks, dating from Watt's tour as Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, pertain to personnel, shops, machinery, supplies, budgets, and Watt's service as a member of the Vreeland Board.

Biographical Chronology of Richard Morgan Watt

  • On June 18, born in York, Pennsylvania to Andrew and Susan Watt.
  • Appointed midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.
  • Graduates from the United States Naval Academy, ranked fourth in his class.
  • Receives B.S. degree from the University of Glasgow.
  • Appointed Assistant to the Superintendent of Construction for the U.S. Navy at Cramp's Shipyard, Philadelphia.
  • On October 16, marries Bessie Davis.
  • Appointed Assistant to the Naval Constructor at the New York Navy Yard.
  • Appointed Superintendent of Construction at Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts.
  • Named head of the Department of Construction and Repair at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • Assigned additional duty as head of the Industrial Department.
  • Appointed Chief Constructor and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, becoming the youngest bureau chief to date.
  • Serves on the board examining the wreck of U.S.S. Maine.
  • Receives an honorary D.Sc. Degree from the University of Glasgow.
  • Selected to represent the Navy Department at the Golden Jubilee meeting of the British Institution of Naval Architects.
  • Appointed head of the Industrial Department at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • Appointed member of the Claims Commission of the U.S. Shipping Board.
  • Appointed head of the Industrial Department at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
  • Appointed Inspector of Material for the U.S. Navy, Philadelphia District.
  • On February 1, promoted to Rear Admiral.
  • On May 15, dies in Philadelphia.
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Description of Contents

The Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks, spanning from August 1910 to December 1911, comprise two copy books of outgoing official correspondence written by Watt while he was serving as Chief Constructor and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair in the Navy Department.

The majority of Watt's letters are brief, often less than a page in length. Much of the correspondence pertains to the day to day operation of the Bureau, including issues of naval personnel, such as appointments, transfers, travel, and promotion; matters regarding various repair shops, facilities, machinery, tools, supplies, and procedures; budgetary matters; and civilian employees.

Other notable topics include reorganization plans, amalgamation of the Construction Corps, matters regarding the composition of the Construction Corps, selection of candidates for the Corps, and the selection of officers for special instruction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some of Watt's letters also reference his service as a member of the Vreeland Board investigating the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine. Correspondence to Naval Constructor George H. Rock and mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor (known as the father of scientific management) demonstrate Watt's interest in the application of scientific management to the Bureau of Construction and Repair.

Included with the letterbooks is a photograph of some of Watt's family and friends from the summer of 1943. The group depicted in the photograph includes a noted Danish naval architect, likely William Hovgaard of M.I.T.

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The Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks are organized into the following three files:

  • File 1: Letterbook, 1910
  • File 2: Letterbook, 1911
  • File 3: Photograph, 1943
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks 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

Gift of Mrs. E. Albert Rich in March 1996. Accession No. 96-23.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Watt and his time at the Naval Academy may be found in his Midshipman Conduct Record and Alumni Jacket 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

Richard Morgan Watt Letterbooks, MS 323

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Who Was Who in America. Chicago: Marquis-Who's Who, 1896-.

"Obituaries." Army and Navy Journal LXXV, no. 39 (1938 May 28): 871.

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 May 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Rock, George, Henry, 1868-1946
  • Taylor, Frederick Winslow, 1856-1915
  • United States. Navy. Bureau of Construction and Repair
  • Watt, Richard Morgan, 1872-1938

Genre Terms

  • Letter books
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Letterbook, 1910

Box 1 Folder 2

Letterbook, 1911

Box 1 Folder 3

Photograph, 1943

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