Director of Naval History
The Director of Naval History (N09BH), under the direction of the Director, Navy Staff (N09B), is the primary official in the Navy Department responsible for protecting the Navy's material culture and for preserving, interpreting, and disseminating the intellectual legacy of the naval service. The Director carries out the following functions:
The Naval Historical Center is the primary institution in the Navy Department charged with preserving, interpreting, and disseminating the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. Located in the historic Washington Navy Yard in the Southeast section of the District of Columbia, the Center is headquartered in a complex of contiguous buildings known as the Dudley Knox Center for Naval History at 805 Kidder Breese Street, just south of Leutze Park.
The reference branches of the Naval Historical Center--Navy Department Library, Operational Archives, Naval Aviation History Branch, Ships History Branch, and the Material Section of the Curator Branch--are closed to the public on Wednesdays. These branches are open to researchers the other four days of the workweek, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except federal holidays.
Other branches of the Center are open on Wednesdays, but some require appointments. To take full advantage of Center resources, we encourage researchers to plan their visits carefully.
The United States Navy Museum and the Navy Art Gallery are open as follows: The museum, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday only; Navy Art Gallery, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Friday only.
The Naval Historical Center traces its lineage to 1800 when President John Adams requested Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, prepare a catalog of professional books for use in the Secretary's office. When the British invaded Washington in 1814, this collection containing the finest works on naval history from America and abroad, was rushed to safety outside the Federal City. Thereafter the library had many locations, including a specially designed space in the State, War, and Navy Building (now the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) next to the White House.
When the library was placed under the Bureau of Navigation in 1882, the director, noted international lawyer and U.S. Naval Academy professor James Russell Soley, gathered the rare books scattered throughout Navy Department offices, collected naval prints and photographs, and subscribed to professional periodicals. He also began to collect and preserve naval records, particularly those of the Civil War. Congress initially recognized his efforts by authorizing funds for an office staff and combining the library and records sections into the Office of Library and Naval War Records.
Six years later Congress appropriated the funds to print the first volume in a monumental documentary series, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Completed in 1927 with the publication of volume 31, the series marked the beginning of a responsibility to collect, edit, and publish historical naval documents, a mission that the Naval Historical Center continues to carry out in its American Revolution and War of 1812 documentary projects. In 1915 the appropriations for publications, the library, and naval war records were combined and the office received a new title--Office of Naval Records and Library.
Once America entered World War I, emphasis shifted to gathering documents on current naval operations. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels directed Admiral William F. Sims, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to collect war diaries, operational reports, and other historic war materials of naval commands in his London headquarters.
To handle World War I records in Washington, a Historical Section was established in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and housed in the new Navy Department ("Main Navy") Building on Constitution Avenue. When the war ended, Admiral Sims's London collection and photographs and motion pictures from the various Navy bureaus were transferred to the Historical Section. The library, by now holding more than 50,000 volumes, remained in the State, War, and Navy Building.
In 1921, a former member of Admiral Sims's wartime staff, Captain Dudley W. Knox, was named head of the Office of Naval Records and Library and the Historical Section. For the next twenty-five years he was the driving force behind the Navy's historical program, earning for the office an international reputation in the field of naval archives and history. The Historical Section was absorbed into Naval Records and Library in 1927. Knox's additional appointment as the Curator for the Navy envisioned a display of our nation's sea heritage in a naval museum in Washington. In 1961, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, established the U.S. Naval Historical Display Center (now the United States Navy Museum).
At President Roosevelt's suggestion, Knox began several documentary series. Seven volumes pertaining to the Quasi War with France and seven volumes relating to the war with the Barbary Powers were ultimately published. World War II halted plans for similar publications on the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and World War I. During World War II, Knox turned his attention to collecting documents generated by naval operations in the global conflict. He immediately began a campaign to gather and arrange operation plans, action reports, and war diaries into a well-controlled archives staffed by professional historians who came on board as naval reservists.
To complement the developing World War II operational archives, the Knox group pioneered an oral history program whereby participants in the significant Atlantic and Pacific operations and battles were interviewed as soon as possible after their wartime engagements. When Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard history professor Samuel Eliot Morison was commissioned by President Roosevelt to prepare the fifteen-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, he relied not only on his own combat experience, but also on those records assembled in Knox's archives.
In 1944, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal established the Office of Naval History to coordinate the Morison project, as well as the wartime administrative histories being written by Navy commands. Knox served as Deputy Director of Naval History under the Director, Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus, but the Office of Naval Records and Library at first remained separate until March 1949 when it merged with the Office of Naval History to form the Naval Records and History Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In 1952 it was renamed the Naval History Division.
The eventual home for the Navy's historians was the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, which in 1961 was converted from an industrial facility to an administrative center. The first component of the Naval History Division located in the yard was the Navy Museum (later the United States Navy Museum), established in 1961. In 1963, the Operational Archives moved to the Navy Yard. The other sections of the Naval History Division followed in 1970, occupying several scattered buildings.
An organizational change in 1971 shifted the Naval History Division from a headquarters establishment to a field activity called the Naval Historical Center, under the Chief of Naval Operations. Most of the Center's activities were brought together in 1982, when they moved into the historic building complex named to honor Dudley W. Knox, who perhaps did more than any other individual to strengthen the Navy's commitment to its historic heritage and traditions.
The present organizational structure was completed in 1986 when the Navy Art Collection and Gallery and the Naval Aviation History and Publication Division, both already located in the Washington Navy Yard, became part of the Naval Historical Center.
Considered the most comprehensive site for information on the history of the U.S. Navy and topics of interest to both the naval leadership and the public, www.history.navy.mil, should be a visitor's first stop at the Naval Historical Center. A preview of the site's contents page reveals the breadth of topics covered and "New Item" signals alert readers to changes at the site. An overview section introduces the Center--its history, programs, internships, publications, and sponsored events--and describes the rich traditions of the naval service. Look for the page's Today in Naval History for important U.S. Navy events that occurred each day. Weekly updates and new information are listed in the What's New section. The Frequently Asked Questions and Wars and Conflicts sections are a must for the serious student as they are continually updated to include relevant contemporary topics. The Navy Department Library catalog, the Navy Art Gallery, and the Online Library of Selected Images from the Photographic Section give viewers electronic access to several Center collections. Each branch maintains a page on the Web site and some post documents, bibliographies, and even entire books.
Bldg. 57, 2nd floor
Hours: by appointment
(202) 433-3940, Fax (202) 433-3593
The Senior Historian is the principal professional advisor to the Director of Naval History. He develops strategic plans and other guiding documents pertaining to the historical programs of the U.S. Navy and the Naval Historical Center. He also supervises the research, writing, and production of the Center's historical publications and serves as the primary contact for scholars wanting to use the Center's facilities for extensive research. The office administers grants, fellowships, scholarships, and internships; and organizes many of the seminars, conferences, and other outreach programs offered by the Center.
Bldg. 57, 2nd Floor
Hours: by appointment
Established in 1987, the Contemporary History Branch specializes in the history of the U.S. Navy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Branch historians focus on research, analysis, and writing, their book-length volumes appearing with some of the best publishers in the country. Shorter, more specific studies of particular incidents or issues are published by the Naval Historical Center in its U.S. Navy in the Modern World booklet series. The branchs historical experience is both broad and deep, resulting in thoughtful studies of operational and strategic matters, national security affairs, critical aspects of research and development, the warfare environment, ethnic and racial issues, and cooperation with allied and foreign navies. Given its focus on the Navy's most recent events, Contemporary History conducts an extensive oral history program preserving the individual memory and adding an important source to the documents and artifacts essential to historical analysis.
Staff historians serve regularly as authorities on modern naval history for the naval community and the public, provide historical context for policymakers, and represent the Navy to professional historical organizations.
Bldg. 108, 2nd floor
Hours: by appointment
The Curator Branch manages the Navy Department's vast collection of artifacts and photographs. The curator is responsible for the careful storage and display of priceless relics of the nation's nautical past. Anchors, bells, uniforms, and other artifacts from the collection are on loan to about 1,500 state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations. The branch's Photographic Section maintains a fully indexed collection of more than 200,000 photographs, an invaluable visual resource for scholars, popular writers, veterans, and the public.
Hours: by appointment
The Early History Branch researches United States naval history through World War I. Its two long-range documentary projects, Naval Documents of the American Revolution (10 volumes to date) and The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History (3 volumes to date), are based on the Center's extensive microfilm collection of documents gathered from the United States and abroad. Historians highlight the exploits of the early navy in shorter histories geared toward the education of the Navy's junior officers, enlisted recruits, and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. As a matter of course, the staff contributes articles to scholarly journals, prepares bibliographies, verifies official Navy manuscripts for historical accuracy, and directs researchers to the sources on America's naval past.
Naval Aviation History
Bldg. 200, Ground Floor
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.; closed Wed.
The Naval Aviation History Branch of the Naval Warfare Division maintains aviation command historical records covering 1941 to the present and other documentation on naval aviation subjects. The Navy dropped its reporting requirements between January 1953 and June 1957 so few history reports for that time period exist. The branch also manages the Naval Aviation Insignia Program and the collection of officially approved insignia from World War II to the present. Staff historians conduct research and write books, monographs, and articles covering the entire history of naval aviation since 1911. The branch publishes the Dictionary of Naval Aviation Squadrons and The Naval Aviation Chronology, 1910-1995 and began work on a monograph series covering the Navy's active squadron communities.
Naval Aviation News
Bldg. 200, Ground Floor
Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon.-Fri.
The branch, part of the Naval Warfare Division, publishes in full color the bimonthly Naval Aviation News that covers all aspects of naval air operations. Articles review the latest technological advances in aircraft and weapons systems and the influence of American naval air power in global events. Each issue includes a historical article and profiles aircraft, important aviators, and organizations that have an impact on the Navy's control of the air. Beginning with the November-December 1996 issue, look for the online version of NANews.
Navy Art Collection
Gallery hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Wed.-Fri.
Research hours: by appointment
The branch manages the Navy Art Collection of more than ten thousand works and runs the Navy Art Gallery. The collection includes rare eyewitness portrayals of the Navy's worldwide missions from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Occasionally, artists provided the only visual record of naval actions, and their works are a powerful testament to the sacrifice and valor of those who served in the Navy. Twenty World War II lithographs reproduced from oils and watercolors in the Combat Art Collection and forty paintings primarily from the Vietnam era are for sale. For prices and ordering information, consult www.history.navy.mil/branches/org6-5.htm. A traveling exhibit program, or artwork displays centered on a particular subject matter, naval action, or a single artist, allows museums and similar institutions to mount art shows in their public spaces. A guide to the loan exhibit program is available from the branch or the Center's Web site.
Begun in 1800 with the acquisition of books for use by the Secretary of the Navy, the Navy Department Library today contains more than 150,000 volumes on naval history and the development of the modern fleet. Acclaimed as having the most highly concentrated and accessible collection of historical literature on the United States Navy, the library's collections include valuable holdings on foreign navies, particularly the Royal Navy. One of the few major military historical libraries open to the public, the library's holdings include Secretary of the Navy reports, Navy registers, regulations, general and special orders, a 5,000-volume cruise book collection, and officers' biographies. Historical Manuscripts in the Navy Department Library, No. 3 in the Naval History Bibliographies series, describes and highlights part of an important collection of manuscripts, most dating from the nineteenth century, contained in the library's Rare Book Collection. The library's Web page provides links to other military and government resources. The library participates in the Federal Depository Library and provides interlibrary loan service.
The National Museum of the United States Navy
Enter at 11th & O Streets, SE gate
Non-military, please call ahead before visiting 202-433-4882
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.; extended hours 1 AprilLabor Day, 9:00 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed weekends and federal holidays. Free admission and parking, wheelchair accessible, museum store, guided and self-guided tours available. Accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Called one of Washington, DC's most user-friendly museums, the United States Navy Museum exhibits ship models, uniforms, medals, ordnance, photographs and fine art in the setting of the former Breech Mechanism Shop of the old Naval Gun Factory. Chronicling the U.S. Navy's history, the museum's collection includes an F-4U Corsair aircraft, better known as Big Hog; a twin mount 5-inch .38-caliber gun; and a quad-40 millimeter antiaircraft battery. The research submersible Trieste, which explored the deepest part of the world ocean, Challenger Deep off the Mariana Islands, exemplifies the U.S. Navy's role in undersea exploration. Working periscopes and klaxon in the Submarine Room are among the hands-on experiences for visitors.
The comprehensive In Harm's Way exhibit chronicles the Navy's role in World War II from the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to Japan's surrender in 1945. Its three sections examine the Pacific and Atlantic campaigns and life on the Home Front.
In celebrating the Museum's 40th anniversary curators mounted an exhibit on three centuries of museums in the Washington Navy Yard culminating in the Navy Museum today that embodies Admiral Arleigh Burke's vision of sharing the Navy's history and traditions with the world.
The gift shop, located to the right of the entrance and operated by the Naval Historical Foundation, sells reproductions of the museum's unique artifacts and offers a wide selection of naval patches, buttons, posters, model ship kits, postcards and stamps.
Bldg. 57, 3rd floor
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.; closed Wed.
(202) 433-3224; Fax (202) 433-2833
The Operational Archives maintains a select group of official operational records, historical documents, and manuscripts dating from 1946. In terms of subject matter, the records relate to naval operations, policy and strategy, and histories of specific commands, and officers' biographies. Among the materials are operational reports, plans, and records from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and other commands; individual officers' papers; and oral history transcripts. Other personal paper collections cover the entire twentieth century, especially World War II. The archives holds a rich oral history collection dating from World War II.
Official World War II operational records (after-action reports, war diaries, and operational planning material) and Tenth Fleet records (convoy and routing and ASW Assessment Committee) were transferred to the Textual Reference Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, Archives II, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.
Bldg. 200, Ground Floor
Deck Logs, Bldg. 57, Ground Floor
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon., Tues., Thurs, Fri., closed Wed.
(202) 433-0824 (deck logs)
The Ships History Branch, part of the Naval Warfare Division, collects the annual command histories of active U.S. Navy ships from 1955, has charge of ships' deck logs dating back 30 years, produces summary histories of ships going out of commission, and compiles and maintains research files on ships and craft of America's navy from its birth in 1775 to the present. The branch's work involves recommending names to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy for new-construction ships and craft, and evaluating shore station requests concerning the Navy's commemorative facility-naming program. The branch publishes the comprehensive Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a multi-volume alphabetically arranged reference work containing histories of U.S. Navy ships, publishes occasional monographs, and handles inquiries concerning Navy ships, veteran matters, and related subjects.
Bldg. 1, 2nd floor
Hours: by appointment
The Naval Historical Center through its Director advises the Navy in matters related to historic preservation of naval ships, and ship and aircraft wrecks. A qualified underwater archaeologist oversees the Center's underwater archaeology program, which addresses issues of historic preservation, war graves, unexploded ordnance, potential use of recovered weapons systems, and illegal removal of property from wrecks. A policy fact sheet, available to the public, explains how sunken U.S. naval vessels and aircraft wreck sites should be treated and lists federal laws and regulations relating to them. The Underwater Archaeology Branch keeps a database of Navy ship and aircraft wreck sites and operate a laboratory at NHC for conserving artifacts recovered from Navy underwater sites. Examples of artifacts undergoing treatment or already on display in the United States Navy Museum include USS Tecumseh's anchor and artifacts from USS Tulip, USS Housatonic, and CSS Alabama. The Conservation Lab is open for tours by appointment.
The NHC publishes histories that serve the needs of our Sailors, the U.S. government, and the American people for accurate and balanced information on the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. Satisfying this broad customer base requires the NHC to produce historical products in various formats, including hard and soft cover books, booklets, CD-ROMs, videos, and electronic presentations.
These include dictionaries, bibliographies, chronologies, and administrative histories that encourage and assist research in naval history. Drawing from rich command histories and archival collections, the Center prepares, issues, and revises the following multi-volume reference series:
Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons (Grossnick).Separate volumes on attack, patrol, fighter, and other aviation squadrons are projected. These volumes by air warfare community emphasize active squadrons serving in the Fleet.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Cressman). Nine volumes contain the histories of those warships commissioned in the U.S. Navy since the beginning of the republic.
United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995 (Grossnick) highlights the significant events and developments that have shaped naval aviation throughout the twentieth century. This comprehensive chronology is complemented with 37 appendixes covering operational activities, technical developments, and administrative changes. It is updated about every ten years.
For over 100 years, the NHC and its predecessor offices have been responsible for the publication of documentary works presenting the most valuable letters, reports, and similar materials on the history of U.S. Navy. Beginning with release of the first volume of the multi-volume The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion in 1894, the NHC has documented the Navy's history. Two series continues the Center's documentary history program: The Naval Documents of the American Revolution (10 of 20 projected vols. published) and The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History (3 of 4 vols. published). In preparing these works Center historians make use of thousands of American and British official records, private correspondence, secondary sources, and other materials on the war's naval and maritime aspects that have been selected and put in context.
Since at least World War II, the Naval Historical Center has produced a variety of award-winning narrative publications. These works have exploited the institutional knowledge of the Navy and its history possessed by the Center's professional staff and made use of the rich primary and secondary materials maintained in the Operational Archives, Navy Department Library, and other Center collections. The following works are underway:
The U.S. Navy in the Modern World
The series acquaints readers with the U.S. Navy's global presence and its contributions to the nation, in war and peace. The illustrated booklets capture the full range of American naval activities of the past century's Cold War and the recent emphasis on littoral warfare.
The U.S. Navy and the Korean War
This illustrated booklet series of commemorative monographs highlights the Navy's contribution to the defense of the Republic of Korea during the conflict of 1950-1953.
Direct Navy Support
The Naval Historical Center gives high priority to assisting the Fleet, the training commands, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and other Navy organizations.
A primary function of the Naval Historical Center is to provide historical support to naval commands engaged in current operations around the globe. Members of the NHC staff and of the affiliated Naval Reserve Combat Documentation Detachment 206 conduct oral history interviews; collect artifacts, electronic and paper records; compile bibliographies, studies, and other reference materials; and prepare lessons learned, operational analyses, and histories.
Command Operations Report
As detailed in OPNAVINST 5750.12J the Naval Historical Center requires each command and activity listed in the Standard Navy Distribution List (SNDL) to submit annually a Command Operation Report (formerly called the Command History). Often the only overall accounts of command activities and achievements, the Command Operation Reports are maintained in the Center's archives as permanent Navy records. The documents are used by staff officers of the Department of the Navy who need information on past events, by official study groups, by authorities responsible for verifying unit awards or individual sea pay claims, by originating commands seeking background information on their units, and by naval historians preparing works on the Navy's past. Numerous questions from government officials, Congress, former naval personnel, and members of the public are answered from the Command Operation Reports within the limits of security and policy restrictions.
Naval Education and Training Command (NETC)
The Center works with NETC in the development, preparation, and Navy-wide distribution of videos, such as the hour-long history Our Navy Story: A Legacy of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Navy commands can obtain copies of the video from the Armed Forces Information Service Joint Audiovisual Distribution Agency, Tobyhanna, PA, at http://dodimagery.afis.osd.mil. The Naval Historical Center and related organizations have also produced a U.S. Navy Heritage Mini Series of 3- to 5-minute videos. In addition, NHC works with NETC incorporating history and heritage in training curricula for NROTC midshipmen and recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
NHC provides administrative support to USS Constitution, the nation's oldest commissioned warship and an international symbol of the prestige and history of the United States Navy. In addition to hosting nearly 700,000 visitors yearly, the crew of USS Constitution takes part in sailing ship parades, annual "turnarounds," and traveling exhibits featuring the frigate's gig and gun operations, bringing the ship to the attention of the American people. USS Constitution also helps inspire successive classes of chief petty officer selectees who spend three days on board drilling with guns, climbing the rigging, hoisting sail, and manning the anchor windlass. Naval Historical Center Detachment, Boston (USS Constitution Maintenance and Repair Facility) employs specially trained and skilled artisans who ensure that this national treasure is safe to sail and continues to shine as a symbol of U.S. Navy history and heritage.
As detailed in SECNAVINST 5755.1A, the Director of Naval History (as the representative of the Chief of Naval Operations), is responsible for developing policy for and monitoring the activities of the Navy's officially recognized museums (see Chapter 3). The Director provides advice to Navy museums on collections development, conservation and restoration, exhibitions, and other interpretative programs, in line with professional standards and guidelines established by the American Association of Museums and the Council of American Maritime Museums. As part of the Director's responsibility, the NHC develops and maintains, with input from the museums, a central registry of historical properties owned by the Navy. The Navy museums report yearly to the Director of Naval History on the previous year's operations, major program issues, annual attendance, and notable artifacts obtained. The responsibilities of the Director of Naval History and the Navy museums with regard to the exchange of ownership transfers of certain Department of the Navy materials for assets or services are governed by SECNAVINST 5755.2A.
Naval District Washington (NDW)
The Center oversees the art, artifact, and general curatorial aspects of Tingey House, the official residence of the Chief of Naval Operations. NHC staff members work with NDW officials to enhance understanding by naval personnel, Navy Department civilian employees, and the public of the Washington Navy Yard's significance to the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. The Center published an excellent history for the yard's bicentennial: The Washington Navy Yard: An Illustrated History (Marolda).
Naming Streets, Facilities, and Areas after Persons
The NHC is responsible for recommending to the Chief of Naval Operations prospective names for unnamed streets, facilities, and areas on U.S. Navy installations. As detailed in SECNAVINST 5030.2D, proposed names are selected with the goal of honoring deceased members of the naval service (in exceptional cases, living members), especially those held in high regard by Sailors as well as the nearby civilian community.
Director Air Warfare, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N78)
The Center provides policy guidance, outreach, and reference support on naval aviation matters to N78; manages naval aviation's insignia and lineage program as defined in OPNAVINST 5030.4F; and every year publishes six issues of the award-winning magazine Naval Aviation News, the professional journal of the naval aviation community.
Naval Aviation Squadron Lineage and Naval Aviation Command Insignia
As detailed in OPNAVINST 5030.4F, the Center's Naval Warfare Division provides policy and approval procedures for the Navy Aviation Squadron Lineage Program. The program standardizes and regularizes the process by which Navy aircraft squadrons trace their lineage and adopt insignia. Pride in a unit's history and its insignia fosters unit cohesion, esprit de corps, and professionalism among naval aviators.
As detailed in SECNAVINST 5700.15, the Director of Naval History (as the representative of the Chief of Naval Operations) is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Navy Art Program. This duty ensures accurate inventory of Navy Art, protection and curation of the works, temporary loan of paintings to appropriate Navy and other government agencies, and displays of Navy art at public sites. As detailed in OPNAVINST 5754.1B, the Director of Naval History, in his capacity as the Curator for the Navy, manages the loan of unique pieces from the Navy Art Collection to government agencies and eligible civilian organizations. The Center works with interested organizations to develop thematic displays employing Navy Art for three-to-six month public exhibits and loans individual original paintings or copies to eligible naval commands and staffs.
Department of the Navy Cultural Resources Program
As detailed in SECNAVINST 4000.35A, the Director of the Naval Historical Center serves as one of several principal technical advisors to the Secretary of the Navy specifically for matters related to historic naval vessels, aircraft, shipwrecks, underwater archaeology, and related archives.
Department of the Navy ship and aircraft wrecks, whether found within U.S., foreign, or international boundaries, are government property in the custody of the U.S. Navy, as administered by the Director of Naval History. Navy custody of its wrecks is based on the property clause of the U.S. Constitution and is consistent with international maritime laws and agreements. The National Historic Preservation Act requires the Navy to administer its historic properties in a spirit of stewardship. Protection of these ship and aircraft wrecks is not only a matter of historic preservation. The issues of war graves, unexploded ordnance, and potential military usage of recovered materials are also germane. The Center manages an underwater archaeological laboratory whose responsibilities include conserving and preserving recovered artifacts and advising naval museums nationwide on conservation policies, practices, and techniques.
Historical Properties of the Navy
As detailed in OPNAVINST 5750.13, the Director of Naval History, in his capacity as the Curator for the Navy, manages the naval service's artifacts of historical value. This responsibility entails the acquisition, custody, preservation, storage, cataloging, display, and loan of historically worthy weapons, equipment, photographs, paintings, unique documents, and similar artifacts for museum display and research.
Deactivation of Ships and Craft
As detailed in OPNAVINST 4770.5G, the Director of Naval History, as Curator of the Navy, works with the staffs of fleet commands, type commands, and ship custodians during the deactivation, decommissioning, and disposal of naval vessels. This coordination prevents the loss, misplacement, or destruction of artifacts of historical value during the sometime lengthy process of removing a vessel from Navy custody. The Curator Branch provides commands with advice on the preservation, protection, and transfer to the NHC of historically worthy records, equipment, and other shipboard items.
The Center advises the Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command on the appropriate documentation to be employed by private preservation groups, in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, in their maintenance of formerly commissioned naval vessels visited by millions of Americans and foreign guests.
Ship Naming, Christenings, and Commissionings
As detailed in SECNAVINST 5031.1A, the Director of Naval History (as the representative of the Chief of Naval Operations) is responsible for recommending to the Secretary of the Navy, via the Chief of Information, proposed names for new construction, conversion, and long-term charter ships based on various criteria. NHC also provides historical information to prospective ship sponsors on the launching (christening) and commissioning of U.S. naval vessels.
Center representatives serve on Navy Department and Defense Department committees, providing Navy's contribution to national defense and the service of its Sailors in the country's wars and other significant endeavors. Examples include membership on the Defense Department 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, Sea Services Korean War Commemoration Committee, and Defense Department Acquisition History Project.
The Navy Department Library, established in 1800, routinely responds to research requests from approximately 2,000 Navy commands and personnel and many more queries from the public. Library representatives, with counterparts from other Navy Department libraries nationwide serve on the Navy's Next Generation Library Project, whose goal is to improve the electronic provision of information to the Fleet.
The Operational Archives, Deck Logs section, and Ships History and Aviation History archives support requests for historical information from the offices of the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, Navy commands worldwide, Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, and Defense Department contractors.
The Naval Historical Center provides primary informational support to the Navy's annual Battle of Midway Night Celebration. The NHC Web site serves to enlighten readers about the importance of this naval engagement, the most decisive action of World War II in the Pacific, and makes available a sample agenda and background materials for Midway Night observances.
A major responsibility of the Naval Historical Center is to provide to Navy commands and the public with accurate information on the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. Every branch and every staff member, in one way or another, responds to queries from Navy and other government officials, members of Congress, Sailors, veterans, scholars, and researchers based at home and abroad. These interested parties transmit their queries via letters, phone calls, e-mails, Faxes, and visits to the Center. Every year, the Center processes tens of thousands of specific requests.
Naval Historical Center Web Site
This Web site (www.history.navy.mil), which is linked to official and unofficial sites providing an enormous wealth of information on the U.S. Navy's history and heritage, receives three quarters of a million visitors each year. A Webmaster and other staff members maintain the site, continually augmenting posted material with original and reproduced historical works, documents, photographs, and art from the Center's vast collections.
Each week, the Center's Public Affairs Officer circulates a report on current and forthcoming events, publications, and other subjects relating to naval history in general and the Center's activities in particular. Through sponsorship of a historic photograph feature called "Eye on History," monthly in All Hands: Magazine of the U.S. Navy, the Center provides Sailors glimpses of key events, people, ships, and aircraft in naval history. Professional historians on staff review scripts of forthcoming TV programs and Hollywood films relating to the U.S. Navy for accuracy and historical context and on occasion serve as on-site advisors to movie production companies.
The Center sponsors, or jointly sponsors, with the Naval Historical Foundation, Navy Memorial Foundation, Center for Naval Analyses, and other organizations conferences involving Navy and Marine Corps veterans, scholars, and citizens that enhance understanding of U.S. naval history and heritage. These gatherings might commemorate important events in the Navy's past; discuss the evolution of naval strategy, tactics, and policy; analyze the social history of the naval services; and investigate the evolution of ships, aircraft, weapons, and equipment. Center-sponsored workshops focus on naval historical support to the fleet, oral history techniques, use of technology in history, and similar subjects. Periodically, the Center hosts official naval historians from around the world to exchange information and discuss issues of mutual concern.
Seminars and Lectures
The Center hosts a monthly Naval History Seminar featuring speakers who have authored naval histories or are conducting significant research, notable Navy and Marine Corps veterans, currently serving naval personnel who have made a mark on modern naval history, important foreign personages, and Center professionals. Topics range from sea, air, land, and space operations; integration of minorities in the service; and evolution of naval technology to current issues of national and international interest.
The United States Navy Museum, the service's flagship museum, and the Center's Navy Art Gallery mount public exhibits focused on the Navy's involvement in America's wars, momentous naval battles, historic leaders and Sailors, overseas exploration and discovery, and other subjects. These exhibits employ historic artifacts and paintings and are mounted not only in the United States Navy Museum and Navy Art Gallery, but also at naval and maritime museums across the nation. Virtual exhibits also posted on the Center's Web site.
Museum Educational Outreach
The United States Navy Museum's educational outreach program comprises four major components: K-12 curriculum-based tours and workshops; tours for veterans or reunion groups, Elderhostel classes, Navy personnel, and other groups; family days; and evening programs for adults and families. The museum creates educational programs for students in all grades that integrate their curricula with the museum's collection. Materials are sent to teachers with a lesson plan to prepare students for their museum visit or are available online. Stand-alone lesson plans do not require a museum visit. The education programs offered are: Highlights of the United States Navy Museum: Hats Off! Grades 1-3; Ships to the Sea--Grades 2-4; To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond--Grades 5-9; Charting American History--Grades 5-12; Dive, Dive!: An Introduction to Submarine History and Technology--Grades 5-12; and In Harm's Way: The Navy in World War II--Grades 6-12. The museum partners with a local nonprofit institution to provide learning opportunities in boat building.
Each year, the museum sponsors family festivals. Maritime musicians, hands-on craft activities, and living history demonstrations delight the crowds. The museum outreach program features evening events such as lectures, concerts, book signings, and exhibit openings.
The Center encourages its staff members to speak about naval history and heritage at Navy Department and other U.S. government, academic, and public conferences and gatherings in the United States and abroad. Staff professionals enhance national and international recognition of U.S. Navy history by appearing as on-air experts in radio, television, and commercial documentary programs. As professional development, NHC scholars write books, book chapters, articles, and book reviews on naval history for commercial publications. Several Center historians have been instrumental in establishing the International Journal of Naval History, an electronic venue for juried articles and papers on the role of navies in world history. NHC historians serve as leaders and members of various professional groups, for example the U.S. Naval Institute, Society for Military History, North American Society for Oceanic History, International Commission on Military History, Naval Order of the United States, and Historic Naval Ships Association. They routinely represent the Navy on joint Department of Defense commemorative, historical publication, and public affairs projects.
Volunteers, Museum Docents, and Interns
The Naval Historical Center accepts applications from military personnel and civilians. Depending on interest and experience, volunteers are assigned to specific branches. A security clearance is not required. If you would like to volunteer, contact either the individual branch or the volunteer coordinator at (202) 433-8270 for information and an application.
Museum Docent Program
The United States Navy Museum's volunteer docents are an integral part of the museum's education and public programs staff. Without them, the museum would not achieve its mission to provide learning opportunities for the thousands of individuals who visit the museum each year. Docents undergo intense training in naval history, material culture, and tour techniques before giving their first tours. Once they have completed their training, docents choose one day a week to volunteer from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the museum. The Education Department assigns docents to tour groups of all ages. To learn more about the volunteer program, contact the museum's Director of Education at (202) 433-4995.
The Naval Historical Center offers internships to students who wish to gain professional experience in areas related to their educational programs and career goals. Internships are available in historical research, writing and editing, public affairs and education, and exhibit design. The Navy Department Library, the National Museum of the United States Navy, and the branches that manage collections of naval archives, photographs, artifacts, and art all offer opportunities. Registered students and graduates of colleges or universities are eligible, as well as highly motivated high school students. The minimum period for internships is 120 hours full-time but internships can last an academic quarter or a semester, during which time a student may serve on a full-time or part-time basis. The Center does not provide salaries or other stipends to interns. If funds permit, a small honorarium may be paid; these are limited to $400 for each intern. For an application, write to Internship Coordinator using the Center's main mailing address, call (202) 433-6901, or down load the application.
Grants, Fellowships, Scholarships, Prizes
Vice Admiral Edwin B. Hooper Research Grant provides an advanced research grant for postdoctoral scholars. Each year the Center can award two grants of up to $2,500 each to individuals researching and writing about U.S. naval history. The application is due no later than 28 February each year; winners are announced in May.
Rear Admiral John D. Hayes Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant to a pre-doctoral candidate who is preparing a dissertation on U.S. naval history. Applicants must be U.S. citizens enrolled in an accredited graduate school and have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation. The application is due no later than 28 February each year; the winner is announced in May.
Samuel Eliot Morison Scholarship is a $5,000 award bestowed on a promising, active-duty U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps commissioned officer who is undertaking research in naval history or a closely allied discipline. Application materials are due no later than 31 July.
Ernest M. Eller Prize in Naval History is a $1000 award given each year for the best article on U.S. naval history published in a scholarly journal. The prize is jointly awarded by the Center and the Naval Historical Foundation.
Send your application to the Senior Historian, 805 Kidder Breese Street, SE, Washington Navy Yard, DC, 20374; or Fax to the Naval Historical Center (202) 433-3593.
The Operational Archives Branchmaintains a select group of manuscripts, records, and historical documents primarily dating from 1945 to the present. In terms of subject matter, they relate to naval operations, policy and strategy, and histories of specific commands. Among the materials are operational reports and plans, selected records from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and other commands, histories of naval activities, individual officer papers, naval radio messages, officer biographies, records relating to minorities in the Navy, and a large oral history collection dating from World War II..
The Naval Aviation History Branch holds special reference collections, including the Aircraft History Card Microfilm Collection (1911-1987), Aircraft Accident Reports Microfilm Collection (1920-December 1969), Naval Aviation News magazine and its predecessors (1917-present), Naval Aeronautical Organization FY 1923-present, and Monthly Report, Status of Naval Aircraft and its predecessors (1926-1988).
The Ships History Branch holds over 14,000 source folders containing historical reports, press clippings, and correspondence for individual naval vessels. These files document the careers of most of the ships that have seen commissioned service in the Navy from the American Revolution to the present. Special collections include comprehensive files detailing the naming of naval ships since World War I and the designation of their sponsors. Published information on earlier ship sponsors is also available. The branch has reference files on historic ship memorials and nautical museums, as well as files and compiled bibliographies of published works on the history and evolution of naval ships and on other naval and nautical subjects of general interest.
The Navy Art Collection holds over 13,000 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. It contains depictions of naval ships, personnel, and action from all eras of U.S. naval history, but due to the operation of the Combat Art Program, the eras of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Shield/Storm are particularly well represented.
The Naval Historical Center is the principal custodian of the Navy's material heritage. The Center is mandated to collect, preserve, display, and make available for public use historical artifacts significant to the U.S. Navy's history and culture. The mandate includes the entire range of archaeological, scientific, cultural, and historical artifacts relating to the U.S. Navy, making the Center accountable for over 200,000 artifacts such as shipboard equipment, anchors, bells, uniforms, flags, and weapons of all calibers. The staff works closely with decommissioning ships, disestablishing shore installations, and the private sector to ensure the preservation of objects representing their contributions to the U.S. Navy.
The Curator Branch is the Center's primary component for managing the Navy's material culture. A professional staff coordinates Navy-wide curatorial matters and maintains liaison with Navy museums, naval commands, and other organizations. The United States Navy Museum, Navy Department Library, Navy Art, and Underwater Archaeology branches also hold, preserve, and interpret historical artifacts in coordination with the Curator Branch.
The Navy owns and is responsible for thousands of cubic feet of archaeological collections from Navy lands. Most of these artifacts are not directly related to Navy history, but are Navy personal property, the management of which is governed by several statutes (the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) and associated regulations (36 CFR Part 79). In general, archaeological collections excavated from Navy lands are administered by the Navy command that owns the real estate. The Navy Cultural Resources Office provides guidance on the administration, conservation, and curation of those collections.
Books and Manuscripts
The Navy Department Library contains 140,000 volumes. Subject matter concentrations include naval history, naval biography and autobiography, exploration, and naval science and technology. Special collections include approximately, 5,000 rare books, dating from the 16th century. This collection includes many narratives of voyages of the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the works are in English, although there is a scattering of foreign language works. Among the holdings are British naval pamphlets from 1690 to 1877; the volumes of the Naval Chronicle from 1799 to 1817; and the Navy Registers beginning in 1813. There are also a number of marine dictionaries and many volumes dealing with uniforms, naval signals, navigation, and tactics.
The Library maintains the Office of Naval Records and Library collection, comprising a thousand historic manuscripts, most of which date from the 19th century. The library has a collection of graduate theses and dissertations in naval history, and a valuable group of three hundred unpublished administrative histories of major World War II naval commands. Other special collections include microfilms of naval documents and records dealing with naval operations during the War of 1812, three thousand maps and charts relating to the naval aspects of the American Revolution, and microfilms of naval records in the National Archives.
The Naval Historical Center maintains a large collection of oral histories, a large portion of which were collected by the Center's Naval Reserve Combat Documentation Detachment 206. Team members deployed worldwide to record the experiences of individuals involved in naval operations.
The Operational Archives acquired a sizable number of second copies from the oral history programs of the presidential libraries, Columbia University, U.S. Naval Institute, the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps program., and the Naval Historical Foundation. This Archives also has trascripts of oral histories conducted during World War II and Vietnam.
Archives, libraries, and other institutions nationwide holding oral history interviews relating to the history and heritage of the U.S. Navy are identified in the Naval Historical Foundation's Guide to Naval Oral History Repositories available from the Foundation.
Research, Development and Acquisition Collection
The Operational Archives holds the the Navy Laboratories collection which consists of over one hundred tapes and transcripts created at the former David Taylor Research Laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, under the "History and Archives Program of Naval Warfare Centers." In addition to conducting its own research, the program collected oral transcripts from various Navy research facilities. The collection is detailed in David K. Allison's and Joseph Marchese's Index of Oral Histories Relating to Naval Research, Development, and Acquisition (Washington: Navy Laboratory/ Center Coordinating Group, 1992), along with abstracts for RTD&E-related interviews at repositories like Columbia University; MIT; Naval Weapons Center, China Lake; Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren; Naval War College; U.S. Naval Academy; U.S. Naval Observatory; Naval Air Systems Command; Naval Research Laboratory; Naval Undersea Warfare Museum; American Institute of Physics; and U.S. Naval Institute. A contract historian services thes records.
The Curator Branch's Photographic Section holds more than 150,000 historic still photos, which span the entire period of U.S. naval history. A pictorial gold mine for researchers, the section handles everything from rare photos of the last sailing vessels and Civil War ironclads to today's missile cruisers and carriers, although emphasis is on pre-1950 subjects. The Naval Historical Foundation offers a 5- to 7-day reproduction service for those negatives and prints in the Curator's collection. The Aviation History Branch, Ships History Branch, Operational Archives, and other Center branches also keep photographs in their collections.
For most photographs of more recent subjects, researchers may contact two external sources: Department of Defense Still Media Records Center (1982 to the present) in DIVC-OM-P-A, 1363 Z Street, March Air Force Base, CA 92518-2717; and the Still Pictures Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.
The Online Library of Selected Images brings together historic photographs relating to important naval events or historical themes and the ships and people that participated in them. One of the best subject series covers the Navy in the Korean War, but all wars in which the Navy participated are amply illustrated in the photo collection. Photographs are added continuously, and users will find many of the best images available on naval and maritime history along with captions, credit lines, and the ability to enlarge the images.
Naval Historical Foundation
Bldg. 57, 1st floor
1306 Dahlgren Avenue, SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5055
Hours: by appointment
Voice: (202) 678-4333
Fax: (202) 889-3565
Web site: http://www.navyhistory.org
A nonprofit organization founded in 1926, the Naval Historical Foundation has a broad mission to preserve and promote U.S. naval history. Support for the Navy's historical programs, and in particular the United States Navy Museum, makes up a significant aspect of that mission. The Foundation performs a myriad of functions including collecting and preserving documents on American naval history and managing oral history, naval heritage speakers, symposia, and naval history writing programs.
Important cataloged naval documents are available to researchers at the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Washington, DC (see Library of Congress entry for more detail). The Foundation solicits artifacts, photographs, and documents and ensures that they are donated to an appropriate repository within the Naval Historical Center. The Foundation operates a historical research service and a reproduction service drawing on the Center's extensive photographic and cruise book collections. The Foundation also runs the United States Navy Museum Gift Shop that features presentation gifts such as the Truxtun Bowl and The Navy coffee table book along with Naval Historical Center and Foundation books and pamphlets. The Foundation's Web site lists items that are for sale. Proceeds from historical services and the gift shop, as well as donations and grants, help support the Naval Historical Center and carry out Foundation programs.
The Foundation, with the Naval Historical Center, publishes Pull Together, a full-color newsletter for Foundation members. Articles cover all aspects of American naval history, including narrative and eyewitness accounts of naval battles and operations, biographical studies, announcements of upcoming events, book notices and reviews. The editorial staff welcomes article submissions. To subscribe or to order back issues, contact the Executive Editor of Pull Together at the Foundation.
Assigned to the Naval Historical Center since 1991, the unit deploys its teams to U.S. Navy, joint, and combined commands worldwide where they conduct oral history interviews, collect historically significant artifacts and records, and document operations through photography and art. Their collection effort contributes to the Navy's lessons learned and preserves the history of current naval operations during crisis response, wartime, declared national emergency, or in situations as directed. Teams have documented the Navy's role current operations since 1991. .
This non-pay Naval Reserve unit provides project support to the Naval Historical Center in keeping with the larger goal of enhancing the Navy's effectiveness by preserving, analyzing, and interpreting its history and heritage. Unit members work on long-term historical projects with the NHC staff processing archival collections, conducting oral history interviews with Pearl Harbor survivors, and digitizing histories for the Center's Web site or for publication in print. VTU members also conduct end-of-tour interviews with key naval leaders.
Navy Cultural Resources Program
Commander Naval Facilities Engineering Command (BDD)
1322 Patterson Avenue, SE Ste 1000
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5065
Web site: http://web.dandp.com/enviroweb/cultural/
The Navy's Cultural Resources Program coordinates compliance with laws and regulations regarding historic preservation, terrestrial archaeology, and the Navy's interactions with Native American tribes. The program office at Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) headquarters also supports the Chief of Naval Operations' Ashore Readiness Division (OPNAV N46). The Deputy Federal Preservation Officer for the Navy, who heads the program office, assists the Department of the Navy's Federal Preservation Officer, an agency responsibility established by the National Historic Preservation Act and assigned as a collateral duty to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Environment).
The Navy maintains a significant shore establishment to support its mission. Of the tens of thousands of buildings and structures owned by the Navy, those associated with historic events, individuals, architectural or design features, or those with the potential to add to our knowledge of the Navy's past may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Some of the most significant properties have already been designated as National Historic Landmarks and are collectively referred to as the "historic built environment."
The Navy is responsible for archaeological resources on its lands. These resources are the material remains of human life that are capable of contributing to scientific or humanistic understanding of past human behavior, cultural adaptation, and related topics through the application of scientific methods. Artifacts and other material specimens such as food remains and charcoal are collected for analysis and interpretation on the age and use of the archeological sites. Associated documentation from archeological investigations may include maps, field notes, laboratory records, and reports. Together, the artifacts and their documentation must be properly managed and protected.
The historic built environment and archaeological resources at a particular installation may predate the Navy's acquisition of the installation. Therefore they may not contribute directly to the understanding of naval history, but rather to other fields of history and archaeology. The Navy is nevertheless responsible for their stewardship in compliance with applicable laws.
Cultural resources laws do not require preservation of historic properties but they do require that the Navy know what its historic properties are, understand the effects of its actions on them, and consult with the appropriate governmental and nongovernmental organizations to establish whether those effects, if adverse, can be avoided or mitigated. Often historic buildings can be successfully and economically rehabilitated to support modern mission requirements, while archaeological sites can be avoided or scientifically excavated. The Navy can also issue permits to others for archaeological excavation on its lands, and runs a program to repatriate Native American remains along with certain associated artifacts found on its lands to tribes that meet specified requirements.
Navy installations develop Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plans (ICRMPs) to pull the various statutory requirements into a single document that can be integrated with other installation planning processes. Installations may also enter into agreements with outside consulting parties on their compliance activities tailored to individual projects or expanded to cover all the installation's historic resources. Other agreements apply nationwide to entire categories of historic properties.
Most of the Navy's cultural resources expertise resides in the NAVFAC field organization, although some regional commands and installations with historic properties have their own experts on staff. The majority of cultural resources plans, documentation, and archaeological studies are prepared or conducted by cultural resources contractors.
Cultural resources products of historical interest include ICRMPs, historic resource inventories, archaeological reports, and detailed documentation of historic properties. There is no central repository of Navy cultural resources products, although valuable materials are held by the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER), and the Navy Department Library. In addition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library Collection at the University of Maryland holds materials relating to Navy cultural resources projects in the DOD Legacy Resource Management Program.
Installation records are likely to be held by installation facilities managers, installation libraries, the installation's servicing Federal Records Center, or the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer. In addition, artifacts resulting from Navy archaeological studies are usually held in local, state or university curation facilities under a cooperative agreement with the installation. These collections are usually available for study in accordance with the installation's and the curating institution's research policies.
Tens of thousands of Sailors, civilian employees, and visitors live in, work in, visit, or pass by Navy historic properties every day. Properly interpreted and integrated into other installation historical programs, historic properties provide an unmatched vehicle for highlighting the Navy and the nation's heritage.
This subcommittee of the overall Department of Defense Historical Advisory Committee meets annually to review the Navy's historical programs and to advise the Secretary of the Navy. It comprises historians, museum professionals, retired senior naval officers, business leaders, lawyers, and experts in the fields of art, information management, archives, and libraries. Since 1952, the subcommittee's presence in Washington and its yearly report to the Secretary has helped focus the attention of key Navy Department officials on the values and requirements of the U.S. Navy's historical programs.