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Gilbert Wilkes Papers, 1888: 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 375
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Gilbert Wilkes Papers
  • Dates: 1888
  • Size: 0.02 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 2 folders
  • Creator: Wilkes, Gilbert, 1863-1901
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Gilbert Wilkes was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1881. The Wilkes Papers concern the proposed lighting system for the ship house of the U.S.S. Maine and the general state of electrification in New York City in 1888.

Biography of Gilbert Wilkes

Gilbert Wilkes was born 19 August 1863, the son of Edmund Wilkes and the grandson of Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, USN. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1881, Wilkes served at sea, then attended Johns Hopkins University from 1888 through 1889. He was assigned to the Bureau of Equipment, Navy Department, 1889-1890. Ensign Wilkes resigned from naval service in February 1891.

During the Spanish-American War, Wilkes served as a Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Yosemite (auxiliary cruiser) and was honorably discharged in August 1898. Wilkes died 11 March 1901 in Denver Colorado.

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Description of Contents

The Gilbert Wilkes Papers date from the period of August-September 1888. The papers concern the proposed lighting system for the ship house of the U.S.S. Maine (Battleship) and of other buildings connected with the construction of the Maine, which was laid down at New York Navy Yard, 17 October 1888 and launched, 18 November 1889.

The papers consist of a draft of Wilkes’ letter to Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi, Commandant, Navy Yard, New York, cost estimates for the proposed lighting system, and Wilkes’ private journal (on loose-leaf) of an electrical visit to New York City. The journal includes comments on electric companies, power-plants and their specifications (such as those operated by the Edison Company, Western Union, and the Broadway Theater), the Edison Lamp factory, light bulb design, and various electrically-lit sites.

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The Gilbert Wilkes Papers are organized into the following two files:

  • File 1: Correspondence - U.S.S. Maine Ship House Electrification, 1888 August-September
  • File 2: Journal of an Electrical Visit to New York, 1888 August 27-September 6
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Gilbert Wilkes 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

Gift of Gilbert Wilkes, III in January 1999. Accession No. 99-21.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Wilkes may be found in his Alumni Jacket and Conduct Record in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Gilbert Wilkes Papers, MS 375

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 and edited by David D'Onofrio in July 2013.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Electric power-plants -- New York City
  • Electrification -- United States
  • Maine (Battleship)
  • Wilkes, Gilbert, 1863-1901

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Estimates
  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Correspondence - U.S.S. Maine Ship House Electrification, 1888 August-September

Includes letter to Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi and cost estimates for a proposed lighting system for the ship house.

Box 1 Folder 2

Journal of an Electrical Visit to New York, 1888 August 27-September 6

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