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Norman V. Donaldson Papers, 1917-1956 (bulk 1917-1925): Finding Aid

Published in June 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 374
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Norman V. Donaldson Papers
  • Dates: 1917-1956
  • Bulk Dates: 1917-1925
  • Size: 0.25 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 7 folders
  • Creator: Donaldson, Norman Vaux, 1891-1964
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Norman V. Donaldson was an academic publisher who served aboard submarine chasers in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve during World War I. The Norman V. Donaldson Papers span the period of 1917 through 1956 with emphasis on his command of Submarine Chaser No. 98 and the capture of the German submarine U-53.

Biography of Norman V. Donaldson

Norman Vaux Donaldson, born 31 July 1891, Worcester, Massachusetts, was the son of neurology professor Henry Herbert Donaldson and Julia Desboro Vaux. In 1915, he received a degree from Yale University, then married Hildegarde Beardsley Nash in 1917. He was the father of Virginia Louise and Harry Nash. Donaldson began his lengthy publishing career with Yale University Press in 1919 and would serve as president, treasurer, director and chairman of the company, retiring in 1959. Norman V. Donaldson died 18 January 1964. The Donaldson Family Papers are held by Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives.

Donaldson was a member of the Naval Coast Defense Reserve (United States Naval Reserve Force) when ordered to active service in 1917. Ensign Donaldson was commissioned in January 1918 and ordered to command the United States Submarine Chaser No. 98 on 12 February 1918. His World War I service aboard this ship earned Donaldson the Navy War Cross. Ensign Donaldson was honorably discharged from the Naval Reserve Force in May of 1921.

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Description of Contents

The Norman V. Donaldson Papers span the period of 1917 through 1956, with bulk coverage of 1917 through 1925. The focus of the collection is Ensign Donaldson’s World War I career with emphasis on his command of Submarine Chaser No. 98. The collection includes U.S. Navy documents, personal correspondence with his mother and others and a few photographs (uniformed Donaldson and ships). Within the U.S. Navy documents file are orders, correspondence, a history of No. 98 and other ship-related papers and the text of Donaldson’s Navy Cross citation with ribbon attached. The memorabilia file includes Donaldson’s Hamden, Connecticut air raid warden card and poems.

No. 98 participated in the crippling September 1918 attack on the German submarine U-53 off Lands End. The collection includes Donaldson’s account of the attack and the actual U-53 deck log and ration log. After the Armistice, Donaldson boarded the battered U-53 in Harwich Harbor and took the deck log and ration book as mementos.

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The Norman V. Donaldson Papers are organized into the following 7 files:

  • File 1: Correspondence, 1918-1956
  • File 2: U.S. Navy Documents, 1917-1939
  • File 3: U-53 - Deck Log, 1918
  • File 4: U-53 - Ration Book, 1918
  • File 5: U-53 - Account of Attack, undated
  • File 6: Memorabilia, 1917-1919 (approximate)
  • File 7: Photographs, 1917-1919 (approximate)
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Norman V. Donaldson 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

Purchased in April 1995. Accession No. 95-24.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

The Donaldson Family Papers are held by Yale University Library, Special Collections.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Norman V. Donaldson Papers, MS 374

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2004. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 2004.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Donaldson, Norman Vaux, 1891-1964
  • Submarine chaser no. 98
  • Submarine chasers
  • U 53 (Submarine)
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations, American
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations, German
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations -- Submarine

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Photographs
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Correspondence, 1918-1956

Box 1 Folder 2

U.S. Navy Documents, 1917-1939

Box 1 Folder 3

U-53 - Deck Log, 1918

Box 1 Folder 4

U-53 - Ration Book, 1918

Box 1 Folder 5

U-53 - Account of Attack, undated

Box 1 Folder 6

Memorabilia, 1917-1919 (approximate)

Box 1 Folder 7

Photographs, 1917-1919 (approximate)

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