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William S. Sims Navigation Notes, 1892: Finding Aid

Published in July 2013

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 373
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: William S. Sims Navigation Notes
  • Dates: 1892
  • Size: 0.06 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 folder containing 1 volume
  • Creator: Sims, William Sowden, 1858-1936
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: William Sowden Sims was an Admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1880. The William S. Sims Navigation Notes were produced by Sims as an instructional text while serving aboard the schoolship U.S.S. Saratoga (Sloop of war).

Biographical Chronology of William Sowden Sims

  • Is born on October 15 in Port Hope, Ontario to Alfred William Sims and Adelaide Sowden Sims. William Sowden's father, a civil engineer, was employed in Canada at the time of his son's birth.
  • Graduates from the U. S. Naval Academy.
  • Service at sea and at the U. S. Naval Academy.
  • Language study, Paris.
  • Instructor aboard Saratoga (Sloop of war), a U.S. Navy ship on loan at Philadelphia for use as a state marine schoolship from 1890 to 1907.
  • Service at sea and duty at Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Naval attaché to Paris, St. Petersburg and Madrid with responsibility for secret service work in Spain, Russia and Italy during the Spanish-American War.
  • Service with the Asiatic Squadron, including inspector of target practice.
  • Inspector of target practice, Bureau of Navigation. Naval Aide to President Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Commander, Minnesota (BB-22). Student, then staff member, Naval War College. Commander, Torpedo (Destroyer) Flotilla. Fits out and commands Nevada (BB-36). Rear Admiral, 1916.
  • President, Naval War College and Commandant, 2nd Naval District. Special duty, Great Britain. Sims' most senior WWI post, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in European Waters; also served as naval attaché, London. World War I temporary ranks of Vice Admiral and Admiral, reverting to Rear Admiral in 1919.
  • President, Naval War College. Member, naval examining board, Newport, Rhode Island. Co-authors The Victory at Sea (1920), winning Pulitzer Prize for history. Retires (1922) with rank of Rear Admiral.
  • Temporary duty with President's Aircraft Board and in Bureau of Navigation.
  • Is commissioned Admiral on the Retired List to date from June 21, 1930.
  • Dies September 28, 1936, Boston. Buried Arlington National Cemetery.
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Description of Contents

This volume is a copy made between August 10 and September 6, 1892 at Southampton, England, of notes on navigation written by Ensign William S. Sims in Philadelphia, 1891. In his preface, Sims states that his object is to provide a guide and reminder for future reference, not a text from which to learn navigation. The original notes, created by Sims, were produced while Sims was serving as an instructor aboard the schoolship SARATOGA. Each member of the graduating class was required to copy the work. Sims never published his navigation notes, but this document is presumably one of the many copies made by his pupils.

Included in the volume are diagrams and tables of navigational data.

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The William S. Sims Navigation Notes comprise a single volume.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The William S. Sims Navigation Notes 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 George E. Hastings in February 1995. Accession No. 95-09.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

The William Sowden Sims Papers are available at the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress (

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

William S. Sims Navigation Notes, MS 373

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

Cogar, William. Dictionary of Admirals of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989-91.

Morison, Elting E. Admiral Sims and the Modern American Navy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2003. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2003 and edited by David D'Onofrio in July 2013.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Navigation
  • Sims, William Sowden, 1858-1936

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

William S. Sims Navigation Notes, 1892

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