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Shellback and Other Navy Ceremonial Certificates

A Select Bibliography

"Blue-Nosed Horned Shellback Dragons Make Up Ship's Crew." All Hands 463 (Sep. 1955): 7. [Concerning the USS Edisto (AGB-2) during 1955.].

Combs, Hanley E. Shellbacks: Sons of Neptune. New York: Pageant Press, 1951.

Creighton, Margaret S. Rites and Passages: The Experience of American Whaling, 1830-1870. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. [See chap. 5, "Crossing the Line: Fraternity in the Forecastle," pp. 116-38.].

Giese, Otto, and Capt. James E. Wise, Jr., USN (Ret.). Shooting the War: The Memoir and Photographs of a U-Boat Officer in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1994. [Detailed description of a modified German crossing the line ceremony conducted on land in Singapore in 1945 on pages 222-26. Includes a photograph of one aspect of the ceremony.]

Harlow, Frederick Pease. The Making of a Sailor or Life Aboard a Yankee Square-Rigger. Salem MA: Marine Research Society, 1928. [See chap. 8, "Crossing the Line," pp.166-86.].

Henningsen, Henning. Crossing the Equator: Sailors' Baptism and Other Initiation Rites. Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1961.

Howell, Glenn F. "Neptunus Rex." US Naval Institute Proceedings 52, no.12 (Dec. 1926): 2485-86.

Kemp, Peter ed. The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea. New York: Oxford University Press. 1976. [See "Crossing the Line," pp. 213-24; and "Shellback," p.779].

Lovette, Leland P. Naval Customs and Traditions and Usage. Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1959. [See "Crossing the Line," pp. 54-56; and appendix G, "Crossing the Line," pp. 302- 308. Includes the text of the Shellback certificate for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Much of this text is identical to that in Mack and Connell's Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions.].

Lydenberg, Harry Miller. Crossing the Line: Tales of the Ceremony During Four Centuries. New York: New York Public Library, 1957. [Extremely useful source documenting the history of the tradition. Included is a large selection of eyewitness accounts of the ceremony including Captain James Cook, Charles Darwin, a number of US Navy personnel, and American merchant seamen.].

Mack, William P., and Royal W. Connell. Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions. 5th ed. Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1980. [See "Crossing the Line," pp. 184-92; "Arctic Initiation," pp. 192-93; and "Golden Shellbacks," p. 193. Includes sample summons for a Neptune party and sample ritual for a Neptune party.].

Niezychowski, Alfred Graf von. The Cruise of the Kronprinz Wilhelm. Foreword by Rear Admiral Walter McLean, U.S.N. Introduction by Felix Graf von Luckner. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1929. [Detailed description of a German crossing the line ceremony in September 1914 on pages 67-70 and 175-89. Includes a photo of the ceremony.]

"Plank Owners Make Way for the Neutron." All Hands 470 (Apr. 1956): 21. [Certificates issued on USS Nautilus (SSN-571)].

Richardson, Keith. "Polliwogs and Shellbacks: An Analysis of the Equator-Crossing Ritual." Western Folklore 36 (Apr. 1977): 154-59.

Schulze-Altenburg, Georg. "Äquatortaufe auf einem Schulschiff." Köhler's Flotten-Kalender (Vol. 35, 1937): 67-74. [Detailed description of a crossing the line ceremony on board a German naval school ship. Includes three photos of the ceremony.]

Silvey, Frank. "The Certified Sailor and His Certificates." All Hands 633 (Oct. 1969): 16-21.

Windas, Cederic W. Traditions of the Navy. Annapolis MD: Leeward Publications, 1978. [See "Crossing the Line," and "Pollywog," p. 64.]. 



30 April 2008

Published:Wed May 24 15:13:22 EDT 2017