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Oscar H. Lackey Papers, 1858-1906 (bulk 1858-1883): Finding Aid

Published in February 2014

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 386
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Oscar H. Lackey Papers
  • Dates: 1858-1883
  • Bulk Dates: 1858-1883
  • Size: 0.42 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box containing 177 items
  • Creator: Lackey, Oscar Hamilton, 1837-1883
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Oscar Hamilton Lackey entered the U.S. Navy in 1858 as a third assistant engineer and rose to the rank of chief engineer. The bulk of the collection consists of letters to his wife, Clara Caroline Stone Lackey, and documents from the Engineering Department of U.S.S. Wyoming. Their son Henry Ellis Lackey was an 1899 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Biography of Oscar Hamilton Lackey

Oscar Hamilton Lackey was born in Virginia in 1837. He entered the U.S. Navy as a third assistant engineer on July 21, 1858. His first cruise was aboard the steamer Southern Star, one of seven vessels that the Navy chartered to fill out a squadron for an expedition to Paraguay. President Buchanan sent the force to the South American country to demand an apology and indemnity from the Paraguayan government for firing on the U.S.S. Water Witch (Side-wheel steamer) in 1855. Lackey continued to serve for three more years aboard the Southern Star, renamed the Crusader after the Navy purchased the ship in 1859.

Promoted to second assistant engineer in January 1861, Lackey was by the end of that year part of the crew of the U.S.S. New Ironsides (Ironclad steamer). On March 17, 1863, he was commissioned a first assistant engineer. In August, he reported to Boston for duty aboard the U.S.S. Niagara (Steam frigate). Lackey became a chief engineer on March 21, 1870. He served on the U.S.S. Contoocook (Screw sloop-of-war), the U.S.S. Swatara (Screw sloop-of-war), the U.S.S Wachusett (Screw sloop-of-war), the U.S.S. Juniata (Screw sloop-of-war), the U.S.S. Canandaigua (Screw sloop-of-war), and the U.S.S. Wyoming (Screw sloop-of-war).

Lackey married Clara Caroline Stone and the couple had one son, Henry Ellis Lackey, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1899. Oscar Lackey retired from the Navy in 1882, perhaps due to illness, and died in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1883. He was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

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Description of Contents

The Oscar H. Lackey Papers, comprising 0.42 linear feet of documentation, span from 1858 to 1906. The papers, which span Lackey's entire U.S. Navy career (1858-1882), focus primarily on his relationship with his wife Caroline and service as Chief Engineer aboard the screw sloop-of-war U.S.S. Wyoming.

The Lackey Papers consist of incoming and outgoing letters, U.S. Navy forms, orders, financial documents, burial documents, and a photograph.

The Oscar H. Lackey Papers are organized into two series. The first series, General Files, consists largely of letters written by Lackey to his wife, Caroline, during his various Navy cruises. The series also includes materials pertaining to Lackey's death and burial. Additionally, the series includes several documents that post-date Lackey's death, namely correspondence received by Lackey's widow and a photograph.

The documents in the second series, U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files, are the product of Lackey's tour of duty as Chief Engineer aboard U.S.S. Wyoming. During Lackey's tour, Wyoming was charged with transporting material to France for the Paris Exposition of 1878 and was subsequently attached to the European Station. Most of the material in this series consists of reports and requisition forms pertaining to the operation of the Wyoming's engines and machinery. The series also includes recommendations and other materials pertaining to the department's personnel.

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The Oscar H. Lackey Papers are organized into the following two series:

  • Series 1: General Files, 1858-1906
  • Series 2: U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files, 1877-1881
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Oscar H. Lackey 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

Custodial History

The U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files were originally donated to the Naval Academy Archives by Mr. Nol Putnam in May 1988.

Provenance and Acquisition

U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files transferred from the Naval Academy Archives in September 1988. General Files purchased from Carmen D. Valentino Rare Books and Manuscripts in June 2004. Accession No. 88-30 and 04-16.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Materials pertaining to Lackey's son, Rear Admiral Henry Ellis Lackey can be found in the Papers of Rear Admiral Henry E. Lackey 1899-1940 ( at the Naval History and Heritage Command's Operational Archives Branch.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

The materials in Series 2: U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files were originally processed as a separate collection, U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Papers, 1877-1881, MS 253.

Preferred Citation

Oscar H. Lackey Papers, MS 386

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

Series 1 of this collection was processed by Jennifer A. Bryan. Series 2 of this collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1990. Finding aids combined by David D'Onofrio in February 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Lackey, Clara Caroline
  • Lackey, Oscar Hamilton, 1837-1883
  • Ships -- Maintenance and repair
  • United States. Navy -- Officers -- Correspondence
  • Wyoming (Screw sloop)

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Forms (documents)
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Photographs
  • Reports
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Contents List

Series 1: General Files, 1858-1906 9 folders

Series Description

The bulk of the series consists of letters written on various cruises from Oscar Lackey to his wife "Carrie." They contain surprisingly little detail about Lackey's experiences on board ship. Some of the letters from his last cruise on the U.S.S. Wyoming provide fleeting glimpses of his activities, but for the most part the letters are personal, repeatedly conveying how much he misses his wife and, in some instances, referring to family and friends. In a letter of August 9, 1874, Lackey indicates that he probably would dislike duty at the Naval Academy.

There are a few letters to Caroline Lackey, including one from "Lidie R. Sigsbee" in which she sends her condolences on learning of the death of Oscar Lackey. Eliza Rogers (Lockwood) Sigsbee was the wife of then Commander Charles Dwight Sigsbee, the head of the Naval Academy's Mechanical Drawing department in 1883.

The series also contains Navy Department orders, bills related to Lackey's funeral and burial, a letter of introduction to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from Elijah Ward, and a faded photograph of unidentified naval officers dated 1906. It is possible that one of the men in the photograph is Henry Ellis Lackey.

Series Arrangement

Arranged by document type.

Box 1 Folder 1

Incoming Correspondence - Oscar H. Lackey, 1875 1 item

Box 1 Folder 2

Outgoing Correspondence - Oscar H. Lackey, 1866-1871 15 items

Box 1 Folder 3

Outgoing Correspondence - Oscar H. Lackey, 1873-1875 8 items

Box 1 Folder 4

Outgoing Correspondence - Oscar H. Lackey, 1878-1881 23 items

Box 1 Folder 5

Financial Papers, 1875, 1877 2 items

Box 1 Folder 6

U.S. Navy Orders, 1863-1876 6 items

Box 1 Folder 7

Estate Papers, 1883 3 items

Box 1 Folder 8

Incoming Correspondence - Clara Caroline (Stone) Lackey, 1869-1904 5 items

Box 1 Folder 9

Letters of Introduction and Photograph, 1858, 1906 4 items

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Series 2: U.S.S. Wyoming Engineering Department Files, 1877-1881 9 folders

Series Description

The series consists of formal documents received or produced by Lackey in his official capacity as Chief Engineer of the screw sloop-of-war U.S.S. Wyoming. Included among the documents are completed requisition forms, quarterly reports of the condition of the Engineering Department, quarterly synopses of the steam log, letters and orders regarding the status and repair of Wyoming's machinery, and communications regarding personnel ratings, recommendations, and examining boards.

Series Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Box 1 Folder 10

Correspondence, 1878-1881 20 items

Includes mentions of Shaw's Exhaust Nozzle, ship repairs, engineering overhauls, a board to report on articles in the storehouse, and Squadron machinery.

Box 1 Folder 11-12

Quarterly Report of the Engineer Department, 1878-1881 12 items

Completed copies of Form No. 47 noting breakages or casualties, present condition, unusual machinery, numbers and categories of engineering personnel, and miscellaneous remarks and observations.

Box 1 Folder 13

Recommendations and Testimonials, 1878-1881 19 items

Letters of recommendation, testimonials of conduct, and documents on the formation and duties of rating boards.

Box 1 Folder 14-17

Requisitions, 1877-1881 January 47 items

Completed copies of Form No. 55, including data on amounts received, estimated prices, total costs, and occasional explanatory notes.

Box 1 Folder 18

Synopsis of the Steam Log, 1878-1881 12 items

Completed copies of Form No. 43, including data on engines, time, revolutions, speed, coal, stores, and draught of water.

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