Navy Records and [Navy Department] Library (E Branch)
Table of Contents
Page Introduction 1136 A. Period from 1882 to 1917 1137 Naval Records 1139 B. Period 1917-1921 (World War I) 1143 C. Era Between World Wars 1154 Related Activities 1157 Naval Museum 1160 Publications 1161 Public Relations 1162 Peacetime Plans for Additional Publications 1165 D. World War II 1166 Location and Relocation 1166 Organization at Outbreak of War 1167 General Mission and Objectives 1169 War Diaries 1170 Estimate of Situation 1171 Preliminary Study and Basic Memorandum 1173 Personnel 1174 Genesis of Recording Project 1178 The Third Relocation 1181 Completion of Shakedown Period 1183 Disapproval of Recording Project 1185 Survey of Operational Records 1186 Handling of Incoming Operational Records 1188 Collateral Contributions 1191 Relationship with Other Agencies 1193 Demobilization Period 1196 Conclusion 1198 Lessons Learned and Recommendations 1199 Appendices to Part XII 1. Appendix A 1-6 Annual Appropriations and Personnel Allowances 1884-1946. 2. Appendix B 1-9 Publications of the Office, 1882-1946. 3. Appendix C 1-26 Part I: Problems Involved in Systematic Collection and Classification of War Documentation (with index). Part II: Procedures Suggested for Examination and Adoption of Plans 4. Appendix D 1-8 Roster of Officers Attached to Staff, 1882-1946. 5. Appendix E 1-7 Scope, Facilities and Size of Naval Library. 6. Appendix F 1-7 Weekly Tabulation of Operational Reports, Accessioned, Indexed and Bound.
This historical narrative1 is based principally on printed and manuscript records in the files of the Office of Naval Records and Library, the most important of which were the day to day War Diary and Progress Reports maintained during World War II by officers of the staff. Personal recollections of these officers frequently "spliced out" such official sources and provided considerable additional and valuable material.
Although the basic Naval History directive called for an appraisement of activities from 1919 to date, it was believed convenient to review the entire history of the Office of Naval Records and Library from its inception in 1882. Such additional information, it is believed, will be useful in providing a background of pre-war functions and purposes for those not familiar with its earlier existence, as well as for planning and appraising the place of the Office of Naval Records and Library in the post-war naval establishment.
A. Period from 1882 to 1917
The Naval Library was established as a departmental institution and became recognized as such through an Act of Congress in 1882, which directed each head of the department to ascertain and report at the beginning of the next session of Congress "...the conditions of the several libraries in his department, number of volumes in each, and plan for consolidation of the same so that there should be but one library in each department."2 By a general order of 23 March3 in the same year, "to collect and record information of value in war or peace," an Office of Naval Intelligence had been created in the Bureau of Navigation, where to facilitate its establishment and carry out its purposes, the new intelligence branch was combined with the existing bureau library.
The departmental library, like other offices of the Navy, at this time had only recently moved into new quarters in the State, War and Navy Building.
On 9 June 1882 Professor James Russell Soley, USN, was assigned to duty in the Bureau of Navigation as officer-in-charge of the newly consolidated departmental library. The appointment proved to be an extremely fortunate one from every point of view, for not only was
Professor Soley exceptionally well-qualified and enthusiastic for the work but, more important, continued his sympathetic interest in the library after 1889 when he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He at once began formulating plans to salvage and collect the few rare books still scattered through the different bureaus; to gather up old prints and photographs of naval battles and American or foreign war vessels; to subscribe for all historical, professional and scientific periodicals; to classify and catalogue this material; and generally to lay the foundation of the present day naval library.
Meanwhile, the first legislative appropriation for books for the departmental library was made and became available on 1 July 1883.4 In addition to an appropriation of $2,500 for the purchase of technical books and magazines, this Act of 5 August 1882 also made provision for one clerk and one assistant messenger to be carried on the Secretary's office appropriation for the care of the library. After this original grant, however, Congressional generosity towards the new library waned.5
Within a few years of the date of its establishment, the Naval Library was located in permanent quarters designed for the purpose in the new State, War and Navy Building; provided for in materiel and funds by Congressional Acts; staffed with an authorized complement of civilian employees; and supervised and directed by an exceptionally
qualified naval officer.
Early naval records like those in most other departments of the Government were considered the property of the various bureaus, offices, or even officials themselves, and usually remained in the haphazard custody of their respective originators. The Act of 17986 which separated naval from military functions by creating a department of the Navy, provided under Section 3, that the new Secretary of the Navy was authorized and empowered to take possession of all the records, books, and documents relevant to naval matters, then deposited in the office of the Secretary of War.
The nature of the duties and activities of the new Bureau of Navigation proved to be most varied and widespread and as a consequence, this branch inherited many more records from the Secretary's and Commissioners' offices than did any of the other newly created bureaus. It was not until 1881, however, that serious thought was given to any plan for the Navy Department itself to collect and publish some of the source materials in the bureaus' files.7
When Captain John Grimes Walker, USN, was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Navigation in 1881, the first departmental project of such a
nature was undertaken when he began the task of collecting records of Union and Confederate naval operations during the war between the states with a view to eventual publication of the material. The work was carried on under his direction for three years until the value of the Bureau of Navigation's efforts to prepare its civil war records for publication was recognized in July 1884 and legislation enacted similar to that which provided funds and personnel for the departmental library in 1882. This latest Act carried the first appropriation for collecting, compiling and arranging the naval records of the war of the Rebellion,8 whereby a sum of $2,640 was provided for the services of one clerk and two copyists to perform work on naval records as distinct from another fund of $1,800 for one clerk and messenger in the library.
In October 1889, Lieutenant Commander F. M. Wise, USN, succeeded Professor Soley as librarian and "in charge of War Records," when the latter was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. By fortunate coincidence, the Office of Library and Naval War Records was at this time transferred from the Bureau of Navigation and placed under the Secretary's Office. Further evidence of the change in opinion as to the importance of the work of the "records office" likewise is indicated in a circular letter to the Chiefs of the Bureaus, over the signature of B. F. Tracy, the Secretary of the Navy, which directed that "...the officer-in-charge of the Naval War Records Office will hereafter be designated, Superintendent, Naval War Records."9
Through the efforts of the newly appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy, additional personnel were authorized next year and the two staffs assigned to the Library and Naval War Records were increased to three and fourteen clerks respectively. At this figure, office personnel remained practically constant for the next 28 years until the influx of World War I records in 1918 necessitated further expansion of the office force.
In 1894 the sum of $15,000 was authorized for printing the official records of the Union and Confederate navies in the War of the Rebellion, the first in a long series of Congressional appropriations provided annually until 1915.10 Five volumes of Civil War material were printed during 1895, 1896 and 1897 under the direction of Captain Richard Rush, who had succeeded Wise in 1893, and one volume followed each year thereafter during the incumbency of Professor E. K. Rawson, USN, as Superintendent, Naval War Records until 20 September 1902.11 Seventeen additional volumes were published between the year 1902 and World War I, during a period in which Mr. Charles Stewart, formerly Chief Clerk of the office, was acting Superintendent of War Records. "...The Naval War Records furnish the best data for the study of the naval history of the Civil War and the methods by which a legal blockade was maintained along nearly 4,000 miles of coast line...The operations of the Confederate Navy are completely presented here for the first time in history. These records, including the construction, equipment, and
performances of ironclads, cruisers, torpedoes, and torpedo boats, stand as a monument to the energy, skill, and daring of Confederate naval officers and sailors...The compilers of these records have endeavored to make these volumes compact in material, and in addition to general operations, have relegated to a second series the reports, orders and correspondence..."12
Meanwhile, the comparatively neglected earlier records of the Navy Department were beginning to receive attention as result of separate legislative acts passed by Congress in 1904 and 1906.13 Congress was being awakened to a belated realization that many official records of the period of the Revolution were scattered throughout Archives of several states, historical societies, libraries and private collectors, and a third piece of legislation in 191314 authorized the collection of military and naval records of the Revolutionary War with a view to their publication, and appropriated for the purpose $25,000 for the War Department and $7,000 for the Navy Department. "...The Commission which started this work very soon decided that their funds would limit effort to a few states and decided to concentrate on Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina. Even in this restricted field, it was further impossible to be thorough, For example, all that could be done in Massachusetts was to photostat from the State Archives, the Massachusetts Board of War matters, orders and letters (2,914 documents) and from the Harvard University Library, Hamilton's Journal of the Vincennes
Expedition (77 documents). The Commission ceased its work in 1914 on account of exhaustion of funds..."15
On 4 March 1915 the Legislative Act consolidated the two appropriations heretofore made for the Library and the Office of Naval Records into one lump sum and the office received the title of "Office of Naval Records and Library."
B. Period 1917-1921 (World War I)
World War I may be said to begin the transition in the Office of Naval Records and Library, between an era of custodianship and primary concern with records of the past and a period of active selection, collection and classification of data on current naval operations.
In 1917 with the publication of Volume 27, the Office of Naval Records and Library suspended further work on the Civil War records project and shifted its emphasis to matters of contemporary historical importance, such activities of the Office having increased considerably. All during the war the Library was the mecca for news correspondents and others utilizing its reference facilities, and in addition, a great many ranking naval officers, allied officials and members of the government were frequent visitors.16
Prior to 1917 it was generally accepted that the principal function of the section was to take charge of the Navy Department's earliest
books, manuscripts, historical material and old records; no plan to collect and to make current records available for contemporary and future historical or official purposes apparently had ever been contemplated by the Office of Naval Records. The idea that such a project should be undertaken by the Navy seems to have originated as a result of an announcement on 3 June 1918 that the War Department was beginning work on and proposed to "...publish a history of the War of 1917..." In a letter soliciting active cooperation, Secretary Newton D. Baker informed the Secretary of the Navy that the Army, in its War History, tentatively planned to include one volume treating of naval operations.17 Instead of appointing a naval officer to serve as liaison with the Historical Branch in the War Department for that purpose however, the Navy decided to initiate a similar work and produce a separate story of naval operations during the war.
Within a few weeks, Admiral Sims commanding United States Naval Forces operating in European Waters, who had been instructed on 25 June 1918 to ascertain what was being done in the matter of collecting historical data on English, French or Italian naval operations by the respective allied powers,18 reported after a comprehensive survey that Great Britain already had a large staff of experts organized under the War Cabinet compiling and arranging material for its naval, military and air force histories. The naval section under Sir Julian Corbett, comprising four officers and twelve civilians especially qualified for the duty, had been granted access to all records, reports, dispatches
and ships' logs in custody of the Admiralty. Sims proposed19 that a similar arrangement be instituted at his headquarters and that the American staff be authorized to visit other naval bases for the purpose of gathering data of historical value.
On 18 August 1918, shortly after this recommendation, the Secretary of the Navy issued a Circular Notice20 stating that "...a History Section has been established under the direction of the Chief of Operations..." and directing that the collecting of historical material be carried on until the end of the war. The circular emphasized that no hampering or interference with the war effort should be permitted to occur in obtaining information. Recognition of the importance of the historical aspects of naval operations and the growing volume of current war records resulted in the appointment of Rear Admiral W. W. Kimball, USN (Ret.) as head of the new section.
In London, in compliance with the Secretary's order, Admiral Sims in October 1918 created an Historical Section in the staff of the U. S. Naval Forces operating in European Waters. In an exchange of dispatches and correspondence with OpNav, about this time, Admiral Sims stressed the importance of adding trained historians to his staff, but before properly qualified officers could be selected for the historical project
and sent to London, the Armistice was declared. Though the cessation of hostilities on 11 November 1918 precluded sending a history section abroad, it released many of the Admiral's staff whose services could be utilized for the collection of source materials for the proposed naval history. By early 1919, Commodore (then Captain) Dudley W. Knox, USN, previously of the Plans Section, who had been designated head of the project in London, had a staff of approximately 20 officers and 50 enlisted men engaged in the task of collecting documents of historical value in connection with the proposed history of naval operations in the war against the Central Powers.
Briefly the system, based somewhat on the experience of the Admiralty's Historical Section, comprised four general archival divisions of operational material:
War Diaries, Log Books, etc.
Telegrams, by chronology within geographical areas.
General correspondence, similarly filed.
Subject files--documents whose bulk, scope or nature made them inappropriate for chronological files.
Telegrams were eventually merged with the chronological correspondence file -- the two forming an area file, geographically subdivided. The collection of historical data on naval operations in European waters was completed by the London staff and forwarded to the Navy Department in August 1919.
Meanwhile in Washington the Historical Section, established in August 1918 under the direction of the Chief of Operations, had partly
lost its autonomous identity. Recognizing their common interests, and considering the younger as a lusty "offshoot" of the old Office of Naval Records and Library, the Secretary of the Navy on 1 July 1919 ordered the Historical Section "...and the Library be incorporated in the Office of Naval Intelligence under the Director of Naval Intelligence and the Chief of Operations.21
The Secretary's order coincided with passage of the first legislative appropriation22 "for collecting World War Records;" a sum of $20,000 being earmarked for the latter purpose in addition to the usual annual amount of $21,000 set aside for the Office of Naval Records and Library.
The order of 1 July 1919 incorporating the Departmental Library and the Historical Section in the Office of Naval Intelligence was timely inasmuch as several previous directives had so expanded activities of the Historical Section that overlapping with Office of Naval Records and Library functions seemed inevitable. Since both activities, at this time were fortunately under a single head, the demarcation between "old" and "current" records was recognized and accepted as marking the respective spheres of the original Office of Naval Records and the newer Historical Section. A few years later as World War I records outgrew their original secret or confidential classifications, this distinction gradually became less and both interpretation and scope of the work of the Office of Naval Records were broadened to include
all operational records regardless of date of origin.
There was nothing inconsistent with this earlier policy and a directive from the Secretary of the Navy to all bureaus, naval districts, Commander U. S. Naval Forces in Europe and Commanders in Chief of the Asiatic, Pacific and U.S. Fleets23 which read:
"1. It is proposed to make the Historical Section of the Office of Naval Operations the depository for all files and all other material that will contribute to the writing of the History of the Navy in the War with the Central Powers.
"2. Therefore, it is directed that, as each unit or activity is closed, the files of that unit, together with the file cases shall be immediately shipped to the Chief of Operations, and marked for the Historical Section, Room 1736, Navy Building, Washington, D.C.
"3. Many of the minor units, both in the United States and abroad, have already been closed and their files should be shipped at once. Such are certain naval districts, many training camps, schools, minor aviation stations, etc. The same principle shall be applied when dealing with the files of the various headquarters, as soon as Peace has been declared and their activities, so far as pertains to war, have ceased."
The first expansion of the activities of the Historical Section had been the establishment on 1 January 1919 of a Pictorial Branch whose purpose was to collect and file under proper references photographs illustrating activities of U. S. and foreign navies. A follow up in the form of an ALNAV24 on 14 March requested that copies of photographs and motion pictures of naval activities, ships, bases, personnel, and incidents taken during the war be forwarded to the Historical Section.25 Subsequently a letter over the signature of the Secretary of
the Navy addressed, to all bureaus stated;
"A photographic Division of the Historical Section has been established, in which will be gathered and filed all the photographs of historic interest taken of Naval activities during the war. As the issuance of a Pictorial History of the War is contemplated, it is desirable for the Historical Section to have copies of all Navy photographs of interest; and it is requested that each Bureau furnish to the Historical Section, Room 1732, Navy Department, two copies of all such photographs it has, and that each contractor who was engaged in Navy work be requested to furnish such photographs."
How closely related during the post-war period were the functions of the original Office of Naval Records and Library and the Historical Section (which in theory at least had been combined under the Director of Naval intelligence) may likewise be seen in the following extracts from the Secretary's Annual Report in 1920:26
"...The Historical Section is specifically charged with the collection, copying, and classification, with a view to publication, of the naval records of the war, and the acquirement of books, periodicals, photographs, maps, and other publications, documents, and pictorial records of the Navy relating to the war. This work has been efficiently carried on with the limited funds and personnel provide.
"The large consignment of material received from United States Naval Headquarters in London, comprising copies of records, reports, dispatches, and orders concerning the operations of our forces in Europe, has been indexed and filed, and is available for use and reference. From the files of the departmental bureaus quantities of reports, dispatches, and other material have been obtained and placed in the historical files. A vast number of papers from ships and stations which have gone out of commission have been received.
"Thousands of photographs, maps, and posters have been collected and mounted for preservation and use.
"A large war map, showing various naval activities during the war, has been made and is a graphic representation of the scope of the Navy's operations...."
There are various striking parallels between conditions prevailing in the Office of Naval Records and Library after World War I and the present post-World War II period. There was then, (a) an expressed fear of delay in obtaining vital increases in personnel to collect and compile comparatively recent operational records; (b) a hope for establishment of a suitable berth in the Department to attract a qualified civilian librarian; and (c) the need of establishing a proper naval museum.
"...The records of the great war form a body of historical material of incalculable value, and their collection and preservation is too important to be neglected. The material on hand and in sight is so large that to handle it the force of the Historical Section must be increased. This work can be done now with less difficulty and at lower cost than if it is deferred.
"We should not, as was the case following the Civil War, allow a generation to elapse before these records are compiled. The people are entitled to this information within a reasonable period; and while it may be years before a comprehensive and authoritative history of the World War is written, we can and should provide for the preparation and publication of accounts of all important naval activities, written while they are fresh in the minds of those who took part in them.... "27
Similarly as a result of wartime expansion of activities and space considerations, the departmental library was forced to move three times during World War II, and the need of skilled supervision and coordination today is as great as when the Secretary wrote in 1920:
"...The Naval Library, which contains more than 50,000 volumes and many rare manuscripts, could be made of much greater value if a competent librarian were secured. The law at present provides for a chief clerk, and for years the work was conducted under the direction of that official, but the position has remained long vacant, owing to the small compensation offered, $2,000, and the impossibility of securing, at that salary, a competent and experienced man.
"Unifying the working forces of the Naval Library and the Historical Section, both of which are now under the same general supervision, would result in economy and the utilization of all the force to the best advantage.
"Organized under a competent librarian, the library would be able to furnish officials of the department and others engaged in naval work or research, complete references on any subject desired. These references should extend to books in other libraries on technical or naval matters. There is increasing demand from many sources for information of this character, and the Naval Library should be able to furnish it, and could easily do so if an experienced man who possesses a knowledge of naval history and affairs as well as of library methods is secured..."28
Incidentally, twenty-five years ago, there was also the same urgency in the arguments and requests that a Naval Museum be established:
"...The need of a naval museum in Washington in which can be gathered the historic relics of the Navy in all our various wars, representing notable incidents in the service, where can be displayed models of our various types of ships, specimens of typical aircraft like the NG-4 which made the first flight across the Atlantic; examples of naval ordnance and other implements of war, showing the progress made from time to time; and providing a place where naval officers and others may deposit their trophies for permanent preservation. I would suggest that the Naval Affairs Committees of Congress direct the department to prepare plans for such an institution to be ready when the time is propitious for the appropriation of sufficient funds for its construction. A considerable collection of articles of naval interest has already been gathered and placed in the National Museum.
"The preservation in graphic form of historical events is so important that I would urge that Congress make appropriations for the painting of subjects illustrating naval activities and naval encounters and naval contribution to victory in the World War...."29
Between 1917 and 1921 -- a period coinciding roughly with the duration of World War I and its active post-war era -- there were two major organic changes in the Office of Naval Records and Library. First, restoration of the Library to the Office of Naval Intelligence from the jurisdiction of the Secretary's Office, and second, revival of its earlier historical functions which had by that time, almost ceased to exist.
About 1900, when the Office of Intelligence was restored to the Bureau of Navigation, the Office of Naval Records and Library was retained under the direction of the Secretary's Office. As a direct result, work of both the Navy Library and Intelligence Sections suffered the latter because lack of its own sources created delays and uneconomical answering of requests for data; the former, because accessioning of new materials practically ceased and its valuable collections of historical manuscripts and printed documents were seldom consulted or used.
To remedy this situation, the Office of Naval Intelligence made repeated and urgent requests that the Library be returned to its cognizance. It was argued that the primary function of the Library was closely related to "intelligence," and, in addition, many administrative handicaps were cited, such as the fact that a considerable number of
requests for information, whether from the General Board, Plans Division, other offices or bureaus of the Navy Department, or from, members of Congress, involved search both in the archives of ONI and the printed sources in the Navy Library. Finally, by order of the Secretary of the Navy on 1 July 1919, the Library was again brought into the Office of Naval Intelligence.
The revival of the historical function of the Library is likewise attributable to World War I. Under the date of 9 April 1928, Commo. D. W. Knox, then as now, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Naval Records and Library wrote:
"...Until that time there was almost no effort made to follow the general practice of our Army and all foreign Navies and Armies in preserving historical records. The documentary collection of the Office of Naval Records practically stopped with the year 1885. Many records of much historical value between that date and the World War as well as others antedating 1885, have been destroyed by the various bureaus and offices when their administrative value had lapsed and filing space became crowded. The work of filling in the gap of historical records between about 1885 and the World War is yet to be done -- preliminary to the completion of the new federal Archive Building.
"In 1918 Congress provided for the collecting and archiving, preliminary to publication, of the World War records of the Navy, which work is actively in progress and will be completed in two or three years. When it is finished there will remain the need of continuing the function of safeguarding records of more recent naval operations against loss, by archiving them from time to time, after they have ceased to be of current administrative value. This work is closely related to the Library function because of the many requests for information, a part of which may be found in printed sources and the remainder in the manuscript collection.
"While the Library supplements the Office of Naval Intelligence principally in matters pertaining to the past, it is also useful in current subjects on account of the technical
and other periodicals regularly subscribed to by the Library, which legal restrictions prevent the various bureaus from purchasing under their own appropriations. Experience since the moving of the Library to space adjacent to the Office of Naval Intelligence and placing it under the organization of the Office of Naval Intelligence has amply justified the changes which are now in effect.... "30
C. Era Between World Wars.
In the twenty odd years before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the Office of Naval Records and Library developed from a comparatively little-known departmental activity to one of national repute in the field of naval archives and history.31 This transition was accomplished despite a steady reduction in personnel and in the face of such further handicaps as the fact that the Library itself did not move to and merge with the other activities until 1923; that the historical function operated on a quasi-independent basis until 1927; and that funds for actual publication were not authorized until 1934.32
When Captain D. W. Knox, USN, (Ret.), was assigned to duty as Officer-in-Charge on 1 August 1921, the Office of Naval Records and Library consisted of the Library, the Old Records Section, and the World War Section.
The Library proper was not only the central source of books, magazines and reference for the administration of the entire Navy Department, but, as has been shown, its facilities were frequently utilized by Members of Congress and other departments of the government. Acting Superintendent of the Library (since 1890), Mr. Charles Stewart, civilian Chief Clerk of the Office, was relieved in 1921 by Lt. Col. N. K. White, USMC, (Ret.), who was the first in a succession of officers assigned as librarians during the next ten years. Comdr. J. H. Sypher, USN (Ret.), served as Superintendent of the Library from March 1923 until November 1925; Lt. Comdr. Richard Wainwright, Jr., USN (Ret.), followed from November 1925 until January 1929; and Capt. H. C. Cocke, USN, from the latter date until June 1931 when, as an economy measure, the Superintendent's position was consolidated with that of the Officer-in-Charge, and Commo. Knox took on this additional duty.
The Old Records Section, which formerly had been mere custodian of an unorganized mass of old papers and documents, under the immediate supervision of Commo. Knox during this period, gradually evolved into the most valuable and principal original source of naval history in the country. Containing more than a million old documents and manuscripts dating from the beginning of the Navy to the late 1880'a, these records were frequently consulted by civilians as well as technical
historians and researchers. In 1923, when the Manuscript Collection and Library were moved from the State, War and Navy Building, there was discovered a considerable amount of the old records which had never been properly archived, but remained boxed or otherwise unarranged and in bulk. As a consequence, data were not available except by an expenditure of considerable time and effort and many inquiries involving pensions, claims and other matters had not been answered.33
In the process of archiving these papers, a great amount of additional source material which had been lost, misplaced or forgotten in other departments was found and added to the collection.
The World War Section, established in 1919 by an Act of Congress and charged with "the collection or copying and classification, with a view to publication, of the Naval Records of the World War, etc.," likewise had been able to accomplish very little toward preparing material for publication. The collection received from London was the only group of papers properly and thoroughly archived, while virtually all other World War naval files still remained to be classified and
archived into the general system.34
The three reserve officers who had originally been assigned to the Office for the purpose of preparing war records for publication, were released to inactive duty in June 1922. The work thenceforth was carried on by a succession of regular officers in accordance with the usual naval rotation policy.35 These officers concurrently supervised the activities of the Pictorial Section, and after 1934 when funds for printing were authorized, the Publications Section.
In addition to the work of its three main branches, the Office carried on some minor historical writing projects, printing seven monographs on various subjects36 connected with naval operations (with about fifteen others in preparation) before a joint Congressional Committee on Printing, in June 1922, forbade further publications of World War I historical material.37
The best overall picture of its functions, and most comprehensive description of its accomplishments, despite inadequate funds and insufficient personnel which handicapped the work of the Office of Naval Records and Library between the two World Wars are those paragraphs from the Annual Report made by the Secretary of the Navy in 1923:
"...Historical Section and Library.
"1. The following report of the activities of the historical section and library is submitted for the year ending June 30, 1923.
"2. The principal activity of the historical section has been the continuation of the work of collecting, arranging, and filing documents pertaining to the Navy's activities in the late war. This work has been done in accordance with the general policy approved by the Secretary of the Navy during the preceding fiscal year. The office force has been so organized and the work so systematized that greater progress has been made in archive building than in any previous year.
"3. However, the small office force still prevents a reasonably early completion. Estimates of the time needed to complete the work are necessarily very inaccurate, but probably 10 years will be required on the present basis. In submitting the last estimates to the Budget Officer it was pointed out that probably five years could be saved by about doubling the subordinate clerical force, without increasing the supervisory force. The latter is at a minimum, needed to carry on the work at all, yet this minimum is capable of supervising a greater subordinate force. The speeding up of the work through increasing the number of lower-paid employees should therefore result in a saving of overhead costs for about five years, amounting in the aggregate to a saving of about $100,000.
"4. The historical value of the archives is constantly increasing with the addition of new matter. The archives are also valuable in furnishing ready reference on World War matters. Many inquiries are received and answered daily from officials of various departments of the Government, historical societies, and other public and private persons. Foremost among these is the Veterans' Bureau, which requires verification of circumstances surrounding the deaths of naval personnel during the World War in the establishment of claims against that bureau.
"5. During the year approximately 35,000 documents were
added to the archives. About 9,000 pounds of rejected material, from which papers possessing historical value have been extracted, were stored at Bellevue. A number of photographs and charts have been added to the pictorial collection.
"6. Preparation of monographs to cover some of the Navy's principal activities during the World War has continued but publication of them has been stopped by the action of the Committee on Printing. By special authority one monograph, in the bands of the public printer at the time when the ban was placed upon further printing, will be completed and issued at an early date. A pamphlet summarizing casualties to both naval and merchant vessels during the war has been printed and issued. Twenty monographs have reached such an advanced state of preparation as to be practically ready to be placed in the hands of the Public Printer.
"7. On June 30, 1922, congressional provision for three reserve officers for the section expired. It should be renewed and made permanent, or else provision should be made for the employment of professional historians in a civil status. It is the deliberate opinion of many eminent scholars and naval officers who have studied the question that the professional historian must participate in the preparation of naval history of merit. Historical writing is a profession in itself, in which naval officers can rarely hope to become proficient. Both professions must collaborate in the work. The reserve officer positions may be filled with duly qualified historians as the work progresses and as suitable persons can be found.
"8. Work upon the compilation of the general index to the 'Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion' has continued, though progress has been slow owing to the need of periodic diversion of the limited personnel available to other pressing work. The general index can not be completed in less than one year.
"9. Early in 1923 the Navy Department library was moved from its original quarters in the old building to the present Navy Department building. An immediate and great increase in its activities ensued, and its value to the department resumed the position it was intended to have. The new location permits a greater economy in expenditures for magazines and books of a technical nature for the various bureaus and offices of the department.
"10. The library includes the Office of Naval Records, in which is filed a great number of old original manuscripts of much historical and traditional value. Efforts are being made to add to this collection and also to the collection of pictures
pertaining to the 'Old Navy,' with a view to making the library a center of naval tradition.
"11. The Office of Naval Records is frequently called upon to furnish old naval historical data, not only by the Pension and other Government offices but also by numerous historical and patriotic societies, as well as by individuals. This function has been given careful attention in an effort to meet the demands of the country at large for information of the past deeds of its Navy..."38
Another collateral duty of the Office of Naval Records and Library, the long-discussed naval museum, finally received some slight but hopeful impetus when on 28 April 1930, in an order originating in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, Commo. Knox was appointed Curator for the Navy Department.39 This secondary function logically was placed under the Naval Records Branch in view of the close relationship between written and printed sources on the one hand, and graphic records, objects and pictures on the other. The Curator was responsible for the collection and preservation of objects, trophies, and relics of historical or inspirational value to the Navy, except those permanently assigned to the Naval Academy and other naval stations, and had cognizance over matters connected with the proposed Naval Museum at Washington, D.C. From thenceforth, pending construction of a new Navy Department building with suitable space and museum facilities, relics and pictures of past naval eras have been stored or recorded as to custody elsewhere.
In 1922 as the printing of Civil War Documents (a work which had begun in 1894) neared completion, a Congressional Committee on Printing forbade further expenditures for this purpose. Finally, in 1934 through the President's interest in naval matters, an appropriation was obtained from Congress for the printing of documents pertaining to the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars. The publications section's work on these volumes commenced in April 1934 and carried on until seven volumes of Naval Documents, Quasi-War with France and six volumes Naval Documents, United States Wars with the Barbary Powers eventually were brought out.40
President Roosevelt was much impressed with the first of these volumes and highly complimented Commodore Knox.41 To make this personal communication a matter of official record, on 28 December 1938 Commodore Knox sent a copy, via Director of Naval Intelligence, to Chief of Naval Personnel stating:
"1. I enclose a copy of a letter received today from President Roosevelt and request that it be filed with my record.
"2. The matter referred to is the project for printing early naval manuscript records of which the first series of seven volumes relating to the Quasi-War with France has been completed. The first volume of the documents pertaining to the Barbary Wars is now on the press, and this series will also run approximately seven volumes. In his foreword to the Barbary volumes the President says, 'It is my earnest hope that the printing of naval manuscripts relating to the War of 1812 and other phases of our national life, may follow'.
"3. Inasmuch as the printed volumes are sold at cost to
the public, the project is intended to be self-liquidating and the probability of obtaining appropriations from Congress over an extended period of years, therefore, seems to be good."
In their methods of conducting routine business between the two World Wars, Commodore Knox and his staff made many friends for the Navy Department in general and the Office of Naval Records and Library in particular. On 15 November 1931, a feature article in the magazine section of the Washington Sunday Star, describing some of the important Governmental Libraries in various agencies in the District of Columbia, included the following:
"...In the large, well arranged Library of the Navy Department in the Navy Building are more than 77,572 volumes, records and documents on Navy Science, reference, biographies, and history. Here are Admiral Dewey's original papers and also those of Admiral Farragut and Admiral Porter...(The Navy Library) also has a file of 35,000 photographs pertaining to ships, personnel and other Navy subjects...Its most ancient original documents are copies of the instructions given to the Navy commanders to capture British boats, signed by Henry Laurens, President Continental Congress, April 3, 1776..."
On 1 April 1935, a few years later, in the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Harry Carr who conducted a popular newspaper column "The Lancer," contrasting his treatment as a civilian in the Navy and War Departments wrote:
"...The Chair Warmers. The fault is with the officers of the General Staff in Washington. Brethren they are just plain snooty. I cite two incidents.
I wanted to get the Army records of Fort Tejon near Bakersfield. After a long delay the War Department labored and brought forth the date of its founding and abandonment- which could have been found in any school library.
With some trepidation, I went to the Navy Department and asked to see some records. They gave me a desk in the Bureau of Records, a special library assistant, the use of a stenographer, sent a car for me every morning and dug up so many
old log books and records that I lived for two weeks in a lather of excitement ..."
In the Washington Post of 22 November 1931, another magazine story gave considerable space to an article on the Pictorial Section of the Office of Naval Records and History. Under the caption "THE U. S. NAVY'S FAMILY ALBUM" it declared that "If the 70,000 Pictures Comprising the Gallery Tucked Away in Room 3629 of the Navy Building Were Ever Mounted in Albums, a New Building Would be Needed to House Them. They Embrace History of the Navy and Allied Subjects... And Still Serve a Valuable Purpose." The collection consisted mostly, it was said, of actual photographs of officers and men, ships and crews, guns and armament, sea chases and battles, and of naval subjects of all kinds, as well as reproductions of drawings, sketches and paintings of historical events from the days before the invention of photography.
As its pictorial branch and other facilities became more widely known through such media, an increased interest in the records of the Navy's part in the historical development of the nation reflected itself in numerous requests from the general public.42
To facilitate and expedite making suitable replies, the filing system of the Pictorial Section was overhauled and in the interest of accuracy, many corrections made in the nomenclature. Lt. Comdr. C. E. Taylor, USN, on duty from 1936 to 1938 in the Office of Naval Records and Library reported that:
"Certain shore establishments were filed under several different names. These were changed to the title of the shore station appearing in the Navy Directory of the year of the picture.
"Many ship's pictures were obtained from the Press and filed under the title given them in the press,--destroyers called battleships, battleships called cruisers, cruisers called transports, etc. In addition, all the British transports were marked 'U.S.S.' The ship titles were changed to the correct nomenclature as listed in the Ships Data Book of the year the photograph was taken.
"The German and Austrian pictures were filed under 'Enemy ships.' These were changed to German and Austrian respectively."
From time to time other articles concerning the Office of Naval Records and Library were published. One appearing in the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings for January 1926, describing the rapidly diminishing source materials of the Navy's history and traditions, pleaded the cause of preserving these vanishing naval archives.43 The author stressed the importance of recovering records of the Navy's origins and early history both as a means of understanding the past and as a guide to planning for the future of the nation. Appealing especially to former officers of the service (and their descendants or families) to make available any documents discovered
among "family papers," the article not only evoked widespread interest but caused the editors to print a special notice inviting attention to the subject. 44
Peacetime Plans for Additional Publications
In mid-summer 1939, just before the second World War broke out in Europe, the Office of Naval Records and Library having practically completed bringing out its volumes of early historical documents pertaining to the Quasi-War with France and the naval records of the Barbary Wars, was looking forward to similarly printing a collection of the more important documents pertaining to naval operations during the War of 1812 and during 1917 and 1918.
The President's active interest in naval history promised well for carrying on such a program of publishing naval war records, but after a state of limited emergency had been declared on 8 September 1939, and war clouds were seen to be gathering on the horizon, priority for such a project dropped rapidly. For the duration therefore all plans for the job were suspended, contemplated requests that civilian and officer staffs be restored45 to former size were postponed and Commodore Knox again carried on alone as Librarian, Archivist, Curator, Historian and representative of the Navy Department in the National Archives Council.
D. World War II
Location and Relocation
Foreseeing that operational activities would expand after the declaration of a limited emergency on 8 September 1939, the Office accepted the fact that it might soon have to relinquish space in the main Navy Building to other branches, for more important and current business of the department.
On 19 June 1940, Captain Knox prophetically published the following order for the guidance of the several sections should a "state of greater emergency than exists at present" arise:
"...(a) The Library proper will continue to function substantially as at present, giving priority to information for Navy Department use.
"(b) The Publications Section will stop sending material to the printer, but will complete preparation of typed material of Barbary Wars, for future publication.
"(c) The World War Section will minimize work not connected with research for the Navy or other Government Departments. It will prepare to move to other quarters and keep in a state of readiness to do this. It will be prepared to archive war diaries and other documents related to the current emergency.
"(d) The Old Records Section will minimize research work not connected with Navy or other Government Departments. Most outside inquiries can be answered by a circular stating that such work has been suspended until after the emergency. Continue transfer of papers from Bureau of Navigation files, but be prepared to stop it. Organize in readiness for moving to other quarters should the necessity arise.
"(e) The Picture Section will undertake 'to receive, record, classify and distribute as necessary photographs of current or potential strategic or historical interest.' The distribution will include appropriate bureaus and offices of the entire Navy Department, as well as outside naval agencies..."
It was hoped that the completion of the Navy Annex, then under construction in Arlington, Virginia, would take care of the office requirements of expanding departmental activities, but long before the Annex was ready for occupancy, space problems in the main building became so acute that arrangements were made with the National Archives to provide temporary quarters for the Office of Naval Records and Library. In March 1941 there began the first in a series of relocations, when all personnel, equipment and activities of the Office of Naval Records (excepting those of a small reference library and the pictorial section) were moved to the National Archives.
The second major move was to Arlington after a period of about six months tenancy in the National Archives. Although a state of unlimited emergency had been declared in May 1941, no change in plans for "final" location of the Office in the Annex was felt necessary, and in October of that year when the third wing was ready, its personnel and materials were shipped across the river. The civilian staff involved at that time totaled only fifteen. The quarters in the Arlington Annex were most commodious and agreeable, and though the Office was separated from the rest of Naval Operations, the inconvenience of frequent bus trips across the Potomac was compensated for by the convenience of working in new, clean and well arranged offices.
Organization at Outbreak of War
At the outbreak of war, the only officer beside Commodore Knox on duty in the Office of Naval Records and Library was Lieutenant
(later Commander) S. T. Dibrell, USNR--a graduate of the Naval Academy, who had resigned from the service and later returned as a Reserve officer.
The Library (Op-16-E1) was in the charge of Mrs. Constance D. Lathrop, who, with a small reference collection and the library catalogue, remained in two rooms in the main building on Constitution Avenue. The main collection of books was housed in the Arlington Annex.46
The Manuscript Section (Op-16-E2), which had been formed by the amalgamation of the Old Records Section and the World War Section, was in the charge of Mrs. Alma R. Lawrence, and was housed entirely in the Arlington Annex.
The Graphic Section (Op-16-E3), although originally concerned with photographs of purely historical interest, had had strategic photographs grafted onto it in 1941. This section, to which Lieutenant Dibrell devoted himself with great energy, was located in third floor, eighth wing of the main building. With the approach of war, the strategic photographs were increasing rapidly, and were becoming a tail that wagged the dog.47
The Publications Section (Op-16-E4) was, under the direction of Miss Loretta I. MacCrindle, engaged in preparing for publication
naval documents of the Barbary Wars. It was located in the Arlington Annex, in close proximity to the Manuscript Section, from which its documents were drawn.
General Mission and Objectives
Although non-military activities practically ceased and departmental functions increased, the basic mission of the Office of Naval Records and Library during the war did not change. Established for the purpose of making information available to the Navy Department and to the general public from its constantly growing reservoir of operational records, the necessity of planning for and archiving data on the current war became so paramount that its other activities, including those of utility to the public, were necessarily reduced for the duration.
The three immediate objectives of the Office, after Pearl Harbor, were:
To procure and commission the most skilled personnel that could be obtained in the field of naval archives and history;
to survey the entire field of operational records with a view to determining which, in addition to war diaries, would be most valuable to the war effort;
to arrange and classify documents received so that pertinent operational data contained in them would be readily accessible to these authorized to know.
These objectives chiefly concerned the work of The Manuscript Section (Op-16-E2). Beyond greatly increased demands for books and
information, which had to be furnished at greater speed than in peacetime, there was no change in the activities of the Library Section (Op-16-E1) during the war.
One of the duties of the Office of Naval Records and Library in the pre-war mobilization plan was the preparation of a letter of instruction to cover the preparation of War Diaries in the event of war.48 On 29 April 1941, Commodore Knox sent a memorandum to the Director of Naval Intelligence with a draft of the proposed letter which was to be sent out in the event of mobilization. This letter was submitted for signature immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, but met with opposition from various quarters in Naval Operations. They felt that the keeping of War Diaries imposed an undue additional load of paper work. In view of this opposition, considerable time was lost. Commodore Knox pointed out in a memorandum of 16 January 1942, to the Director, that "the original draft represented a substantial simplification of the same order actually carried out during the last war." The letter was in due course submitted to COMINCH, who wished to know more about the keeping of Diaries in World War I.
On 30 January 1942, a memorandum from Commodore Knox to COMINCH with a copy of the World War I directive enclosed, stated, "A similar order was prepared by this office several years ago for inclusion in the war plans. After the outbreak of the present war it came to my attention that the order covering War Diaries incorporated in the war
plan had not been issued and that further simplification was desired."
The letter of instructions was subsequently rewritten and was issued on 22 February 1942, signed by the Chief of Naval Operations.
Even before this directive was issued, certain ships and task forces, particularly in the Pacific, had been keeping War Diaries on their own initiative, which when submitted proved to be of very considerable value. As the War Diaries began to be received in Washington, the attitude toward them changed almost immediately and their high value as a source of current operational information and guidance was very soon recognized.
The establishment of the Microfilm Library in the Readiness Section of the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, to facilitate the dissemination among bureaus and interested offices of the Navy Department of the information contained in the War Diaries,49 took place less than two months after the appearance of the 22 February 1942 directive, and was a proof of the usefulness of the Diaries.
Estimate of Situation.
At the outbreak of the War, Commodore Knox, feeling that the business of fighting should not be impeded in any way, and anticipating that the influx of World War II records would not occur in great
volume until demobilization, decided on a long range policy of slow and careful selection of officer personnel, as the method least interfering with more urgent activities.
On 7 December 1941 there was not a single naval officer specifically assigned to the staff of the Manuscript Section of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Op-l6-E2). Its civilian personnel, however, were all of long experience. Various other civilians who had had relations with the office in peacetime wrote offering their services in any capacity in which they might be useful. Among those was Mr. Tracy Barrett Kittredge, who had during the last war been a Lieutenant, USNRF, attached to the staff of Admiral Sims in London, and had worked very closely with Commodore Knox in organizing the historical section of World War I. On 13 December 1941, Mr. Kittredge wrote to Commodore Knox, to the Administrative Officer of the Office of Naval Intelligence, and to Admiral Stark, offering his services. Commodore Knox in replying on 15 December, stated, "The day you called, we discussed the problem of taking over current historical documents for our historical collection and I understand that we were in agreement that nothing should be done until the period of demobilization sets in. Nevertheless, I have the problem of studying this matter, preparing plans for doing the job when the war is over, and I would very much like to have you on duty here in that connection."
This plan of making a study of the archival problem of World War II in advance of the actual end was one which occupied the attention of the office for a number of months to come.
Preliminary Study and Basic Memorandum
Lieutenant T. B. Kittredge applied himself to the problems involved in the systematic collection of war documentation with great energy and insight and in an extremely short time prepared a memorandum for Commodore Knox which has become the basis and point of departure for the subsequent activities of the office. He prepared a second memorandum on 20 April, entitled "Procedures suggested for examination and disposition of plans for activities of the Office of Naval Records in the centralization classification and filing of documentation relative to the Naval operations during the war."50
These memoranda of Lieutenant Kittredge involved proposals for preliminary surveys by officers attached to the Office of Naval Records of existing files relating to naval operations, and the laying of plans for the establishment of a future operational archive in the Office of Naval Records. Lieutenant Kittredge suggested the extensive use of microfilm as a solution of the space problem, and as a means of reconciling the desire of the Archivist of the United States for records to be filed by provenance, and the practice of the Office of Naval Records in arranging its files similar to the methodized system already in use.
Lieutenant Kittredge's suggestion for possible staff requirements for the Office of Naval Records were as follows:
One officer to make a survey of Navy Department files and archives;
One officer, with perhaps one or more assistants, to make
a survey of present methods for analysis and synthesis of information available; this officer was to be personal assistant to Commodore Knox;
One officer to be responsible for the organization and maintenance of a microfilm archive, with one or more assistants to do any classification and indexing of microfilm prints;
One officer to be responsible for the planning, installation and maintenance of the files of War Diaries and other special collections relating to naval operations;
One officer to assist Commodore Knox in working out cooperative arrangements with government agencies concerned with war activities and with the National Archives.
On 25 April, Commodore Knox submitted a memorandum to the Director of Naval Intelligence, outlining this program and requesting the assignment of an appropriate number of officers to undertake it.
At this time, the only officer specifically requested was Ensign John Haskell Kemble, USNR, who was to undertake the survey of Navy Department's files and archives. Ensign Kemble, in civilian life, was a member of the History Department of Pomona College, Claremont, California.
Commodore Knox's memorandum to the Director was lost, and no action was consequently taken until a duplicate copy was submitted on 26 May. It was on that date, "approved for planning and arrangement" with the added notation by the Director, "believe it is too
early yet, however, to consider transfer of any files to Archival state."
A few days after Commodore Knox's memorandum of 25 April had been submitted to the Director, Ensign Kemble was instructed to ascertain at Princeton University the possibilities of securing suitable personnel for carrying out the project. Dr. R. G. Albion of Princeton and Professor S. E. Morison of Harvard University were recommended for this purpose.
Consequently, Commodore Knox on 6 May 1942 wrote Dr. Robert Greenhalgh Albion, Professor of History and Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Princeton University, sending him a copy of the 25 April memorandum and requesting his services. "In part, the task I had in mind for you is outlined in paragraph 7. Your administrative experience and general background, however, qualify you further for the position of my principal assistant in the whole project dealing with the current war. I should be delighted to have you in this dual capacity." But Dr. Albion at this time was unable to relinquish entirely his duties at Princeton University.
On the same day, Commodore Knox wrote to Marion Vernon Brewington, Jr., of Philadelphia, and suggested that Mr. Brewington might be interested in fitting into some of the aspects of the plan either as a Lieutenant, USNR, or as a civilian employee with equal pay. Mr. Brewington, although in civilian life a trust officer of the Pennsylvania Company in Philadelphia, had for many years devoted himself to the study of Naval and Maritime History with great distinction, and had, in the course of his work, been in constant contact with
Commodore Knox and the office staff.
On 22 May, Commodore Knox wrote to Professor Samuel Eliot Morison, professor of history at Harvard University, offering him the post of "Naval Reserve Officer in charge of this project."
Professor Morison had on 9 December 1941 written to Captain J. A. Gade, USNR, in the Office of Naval Intelligence, concerning his possible enrollment in the Naval Reserve. Captain Gade had referred this inquiry to Commodore Knox, who had, in a memorandum of 24 December, said, "there is no plan at present for a history of naval operations to be prepared after the war;" and that "the function of this office is mainly archiving." Professor Morison, in reply (letter of 7 January 1942) had suggested the desirability of getting "history hot off the griddle, written as the operations progressed, and then laid away for publication after the war or whenever it can be told." Commodore Knox at that time, felt that such a proposal did not fall within the scope of this office.
Professor Morison in the intervening months had followed his proposal through other channels and when Commodore Knox wrote him on 22 May, he had recently been commissioned Lieutenant Commander, USNR.
On 29 May, he wrote Commodore Knox as follows: "After giving your flattering offer very careful consideration, I decided that it would be better for my historical work if I devoted my entire time and energy to keeping abreast of current history. That alone is a stupendous job; much bigger than anything I have heretofore tackled, and if I undertake to make a collection of source material it would consume all of my time."
Dr. Walter Muir Whitehill, Assistant Director of the Peabody Museum and Editor of The American Neptune was next contacted concerning the possibility of his joining the staff to take over the duties originally contemplated for Professor Albion. On 16 November 1942 Lieutenant (later Commander) Whitehill, USNR, reported for duty.
By the end of June, it appeared desirable that Ensign Kemble should be transferred from Foreign Intelligence Records and begin to devote his time to the duties which were contemplated for him in Lieutenant Kittredge's memorandum. Hence he was transferred to Op-16-E on 12 July.
On 2 July 1942, Commander (later Captain) Percy T. Wright, USN (Ret.), reported for duty in the Office of Naval Intelligence and was assigned to Op-16-E. Commander Wright had had a distinguished career as a submarine officer in World War I; had subsequently served as Navigating Officer of the West Virginia and as the Commanding Officer of the Canopus on the China Station. Commander Wright spent some days familiarizing himself with the work of the various branches of Op-l6E and was given the choice of assignment to any one in which he saw the greatest possibility for useful service. His choice was Op-l6-E-2 and consequently Commodore Knox asked him to become head of that section.
At the end of July, Dr. Whitehill recommended that only two additional officers would be necessary to carry out the program proposed in the Kittredge Memorandum. He nominated Dr. Richard W. Leopold, Instructor in History and Head Tutor of Adams House, Harvard
University (a diplomatic historian with a wide knowledge of Anglo-American relations and considerable interest in naval history) and Mr. Edwin W. Small, who was in charge of the National Park Service at Salem, Massachusetts, and had worked somewhat in the field of maritime history. Dr. Leopold was commissioned Ensign, USNR, and reported for duty on 24 December 1942, after having been drafted and having served several months as a private in the Army Air Force. Mr. Small did not appear in the uniform of a Lieutenant (jg) until 9 March 1943.
Mr. Brewington was engaged as a civilian agent, and turned up in Washington for duty in early September 1942, although it was mid-December before he formally reported as a Lieutenant.
Dr. Nelson M. Blake, Chief of the Navy Department Archives, The National Archives, had offered his services to Commodore Knox. He was instructed to apply for a commission, and so eventually reported as Lieutenant, USNR, on 15 December 1942.
Genesis of Recording Project.
The selection of Dr. Blake completed the personnel considered necessary for carrying out the provisions of the Kittredge Memorandum. In anticipation of their reporting for duty, Commander Wright and Lieutenant Kemble in August and September 1942 made calls upon various offices in Naval Operations and Public Relations to lay the groundwork for the survey of operational records that was to be undertaken in the future. At that moment there was naturally a greater concern with fighting the war than keeping records, and the operational reports that were submitted were maintained in high
security classifications in the files of COMINCH Headquarters. The war diaries (which were being received regularly in the Office of Naval Records and Library) were not an entirely adequate record, and Commander Wright therefore became greatly concerned over the necessity of obtaining supplementary information from the actual theaters of operations. He had also become much impressed with the potentialities of a new type of voice recording gear--known as the Recordgraph--in which sound tracks are impressed upon 35 mm microfilm. He therefore laid plans for an extensive field staff, equipped with Recordgraphs, to collect personal narratives of action from forces in the forward areas and at strategic points within the continental limits of the United States.
The field staff would consist of thirteen units of one commissioned officer and one stenographic yeoman (equipped with voice recording machines), assigned to duty at sea frontiers and centers of naval importance overseas. These units would be concerned with the collection of significant operational records not available in Washington, by obtaining recorded narratives from those who had taken a prominent part in operations. Narratives of this sort had already been recorded experimentally by this section, but experience had demonstrated the desirability of getting them immediately after the action.
In addition, these officers would be familiar with the procedure for the disposal of excess files as they accumulate on board ship and ashore. It was expected that field units would be of great assistance to operating forces in siding them in the reduction of burdensome files.
In this capacity they would work in close cooperation with the Office of Records Administration, looking to the destruction of useless material and the forwarding to Washington of important records.
In view of the slowness of procurement processes, Commander Wright set about obtaining qualified personnel for this field project, even though it had not yet been planned in detail, and the survey of operational records in Washington had not been begun. In his view, time was of the essence. He therefore sought personnel energetically, and, in fact, devoted most of his efforts from September 1942 to January 1943 to this end. In some cases he requested the commissioning of civilians with historical, archival or journalistic experience, such as Elting E. Morison (the biographer of Admiral Sims), David B. Tyler (author of Steam Conquers the Atlantic), Charles G. Summersell of the University of Alabama, M. R. Dickson (The National Archives), Cecil K. Byrd (University of Indiana), Alexander R. Preston (The Washington Star); in other instances he counted on utilizing the services of officers who were available, such as Lieutenant E. R. Shopen, Ensign Richard C. Haskett and Boatswain Richard C. Newbold. Commander Wright also sought the commissioning of George B. Porter, of the staff of The Washington Star, to serve as liaison officer between the Office of Naval Records and Library and the Office of Public Information. Enlisted personnel, both for the field staff and for duty in Washington, were also sought energetically. Though yeomen reported throughout the fall in satisfactory numbers, the majority of the officers did not report until the early months of 1943.
The Third Relocation
In October 1942, while Commander Wright was wrestling with personnel problems, Vice Admiral Henry V. Butler, Administrative Officer of the Navy Department, indicated that expansion of the Bureau of Naval Personnel's activities would presently require the Arlington Annex space into which the Office had moved in October 1941. It was proposed that the Office as a whole move to quarters in the old Smithsonian Institution building, which would be reconditioned for the housing of books and manuscripts. Commander Wright strongly opposed this plan (which would have kept the Office activities together in one place), and in consequence an alternative was developed, which involved scattering the sections widely, though retaining a foothold in the Arlington Annex.
The Librarian of Congress offered the use of a stack area on Deck 12 South of the Library of Congress Annex, to which the Library's books (and those of The National Historical Foundation) were transferred about the middle of November 1942. Clarence I. Gardiner, stack attendant, accompanied them, and has ever since made his headquarters there to answer calls for books.
All pictures, trophies and historical relics, of which there were 107 large cases, were inventoried for the first time, photographed, securely packed and stored in the Navy Warehouse, South Court House Road, Arlington.
In October 1942 negotiations were begun to transfer records in the Manuscript Section antedating 1910 to the legal custody of The National Archives. After interdepartmental legal and technical
formalities had been completed through the Office of Records Administration, The National Archives in a letter on 10 November 1942 stated that the Archivist would take into his permanent legal custody, all records contained in the Office of Naval Records and Library collection which date prior to 1911 and already had delivered his requisition therefor. He was also willing to provide storage space for the duration of the war for the remaining records of the Office dating subsequent to 1910, with the understanding that this material would remain in the legal custody of the Navy Department.
The Archivist agreed to provide office space permanently for the Civil Service naval personnel attached to those records, and had no objection to naval personnel completing the work then in progress of assembling the recently acquired Spanish-American War records. He further provided space for the personnel of the Publications Section and the manuscript collections and the Naval Historical Foundation.
As insurance against loss by enemy bombing or sabotage, all the more valuable manuscripts (except those already printed relating to the Quasi-War, Barbary Wars and Civil War) were microfilmed. One copy was retained in the Office of Naval Records and Library, one sent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, one to the bomb-proof in Indiana and the negative to the National Archives.
Four rooms on the front corridor of the Arlington Annex (3022, 3024, 3026, 3028) and two and a half rooms opposite were retained for the use of Commodore Knox, his administrative office, and the World War II portion of Op-l6-E2. This was considered a temporary arrangement, for
at that time the theory of a Navy Department move to the Pentagon was under discussion, but in the end this space was retained until August 1945. Originally intended only for office use, it became more and more overcrowded as current records poured in, and additional filing cases jostled personnel.
Completion of Shakedown Period
In the course of November and December 1942 Lieutenants Whitehill, Brewington and Blake reported for duty, as well as two officers (Lieutenants Dickson and Shopen) who were intended for the field staff. The commotion of moving, as well as efforts to expedite the procurement of personnel, made consistent and orderly work difficult. Nevertheless, by the end of the year Lieutenants Whitehill, Brewington and Kemble were attacking the survey of operational records. Ensign Leopold, who reported on Christmas Eve, was placed in charge of setting up classification and filing systems, while Boatswain Newbold directed the enlisted force engaged in this work. Lieutenant Blake was performing liaison work with the Office of Records Administration and the National Archives, and Lieutenant Porter (who reported in early January 1943) was soon to develop similar duties with the Office of Public Relations.
Under the date of 22 January 1943, Commodore Knox in a memorandum to the Director of Naval Intelligence was able to state that the situation in Op-l6-E2 had then reached a point where a more specific report could be made on the duties and functions of the officer personnel.
He found that it had become increasingly clear that the function
of his staff should be to make the operational records of the present war of immediate use in its conduct, and believed that, if this task was accomplished satisfactorily, these materials would form the basis for the preparation of a staff history immediately after the war, should that be deemed advisable. "...Such a project was decided upon by the Secretary of the Navy and by Admiral Sims in 1918, but was not carried through in its entirety due to the close of the war. This resulted in the loss to a large extent of the naval lessons of World War I, and it therefore seemed imperative to undertake this work for World War II at the earliest possible time..."
One administrative officer and four other officers of the Washington staff were concerned with the collection of significant operational records.51 War diaries were automatically received for permanent retention, but it was necessary also to maintain constant contact with offices of the Navy Department and related governmental agencies to locate and earmark for reference, future microfilming, and possible future transfer of pertinent supplementary documents which were essential to complete the operational record.
Disapproval of Recording Project.
To the intense chagrin and disappointment of Comdr. Wright, its principal sponsor, and after considerable time and care had been consumed in the selection of proper equipment and personnel for the sound recording program, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, in a memorandum to Commo. Knox dated 4 February 194352 stated:
"In view of the desire of our Commanders in the theatres of operations to remain unhampered, insofar as possible, by persons or activities not essential to the business of fighting, I regret that I cannot permit sending personnel into the field for the purposes specified in your memorandum dated January 29, 1943."
This decision left the Office with an embarrassing richness of personnel and Recordgraph machines, but during the late winter and early spring of 1943--while the Washington staff were at work on activities that will presently be discussed--arrangements were made for the disposition of the field officers and machines which proved to be of considerable historical utility. Lt. (jg) E. S. Morison was ordered to the Eastern Sea Frontier as assistant historian;53 Ensign Alexander Preston to the Western Sea Frontier as war diary officer; Lt, (jg) Charles G. Summersell to the staff of Commander
Submarines, Pacific Fleet, as historical officer;54 while Lieutenant J. H. Kemble55 and Boatswain R. C. Newbold were ordered to the Pacific Fleet and South Pacific Force, respectively, with Recordgraph machines.56 These officers, although detached from the Office of Naval Records and Library, Were of considerable assistance to the Office in their respective commands throughout the war.
Lieutenant Porter remained in Washington, where he quietly and efficiently used the Recordgraph machine to obtain a considerable number of recordings from officers and men who had returned from combat zones.57
Survey of Operational Records
During the early months of 1943, considerable progress was made in the survey of operational records. Lieutenants Whitehill and Brewington (and later Lieutenant Tyler) spent considerable time in
the COMINCH Microfilm Library (analyzing the types of documents filmed there and the sources from which they were received) and investigating other files in COMINCH Headquarters and in Naval Operations. Lieutenant Blake (assisted by Lieutenant Dickson) worked in close relationship with the Office of Records Administration, and studied various obsolete ship and command files which had been turned over to that Office for storage. Lieutenant Kemble visited the headquarters of various Sea Frontiers and shore establishments, while Lieutenant Porter kept a close eye upon material in the Office of Public Relations and the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
It soon became apparent that the documents in which the Office of Naval Records and Library was chiefly interested were concentrated in the files of COMINCH Headquarters, and so from the late spring of 1943 onwards most survey activities were concerned with those files. Lieutenant Whitehall kept in touch with the Microfilm Library, the Indoctrination Section, and Tactical Analysis Section of the Readiness Division, as well as the File Rooms (which were under the direction of the Flag Secretary), and from this there developed frequent transfers of documents that were no longer required for current use in Headquarters. In May 1943 a considerable number of photostatic copies of action reports were turned over to the Office of Naval Records and Library by the Tactical Analysis Section. In July 1943 the Secret File Room began the transfer of original action reports, and in March 1944 a system was set up by which not only original action reports but operation plans and orders would be regularly sent to the Office of Naval Records and Library when six months old. By
order of the Director of Naval Intelligence, these documents, which were still considered to be part of the COMINCH files, were accessible only to personnel attached to, or authorized by, COMINCH Headquarters.58
Thus what had begun as a survey (with the intention of earmarking files for post-war transfer) ended in a working arrangement by which documents were currently transferred throughout the war. The reason, however, is obvious; the work of classifying, indexing and binding these documents for future historical reference made the information contained therein more readily accessible for current use in COMINCH Headquarters.
Handling of Incoming Operational Records.
During 1942 the war diaries (which were the only class of current records then received) were filed by Mrs. Lawrence, with the assistance of the enlisted men, who began to report from August onwards. Ensign P. W. Leopold was placed in charge of the files in January 1943, and continued in that duty until his detachment in March 1946. The orderly condition of the current files of the Office is almost entirely due to his careful and foresighted planning, and ability to cope with vast quantities of records with inadequate space and equipment. As there was no satisfactory precedent for handling this material, Ensign Leopold devised classification systems and procedures whereby incoming documents were routed to various
officers for reading and the preparation of index cards (involving briefs of contents), and then bound and filed. As the war progressed, the trickle of records became a torrent, yet, by skillful utilization of both the personnel and space available, Leopold's systems resulted in rapid accessioning, orderly filing and ready availability of information.59
The several types of records and reports tabulated embrace most of the operational archives of naval action during the war and include:
Operation Plans and Orders.
Patrol Reports--submarines and aircraft.
Original Operation Plans and Orders (master set) are filed under administrative titles of originators; while duplicate copies (if any were received) are filed in the Class III material (area) file under pertinent operation.
Action Reports which are the second largest collection of operational records now on hand, have been acquired through four different channels: the chain-of-command copy, the photostat of the original document, the advance copy and very often an extra copy appended to a war diary.
The most complete chain-of-command copy together with endorsements, received from the COMINCH file room is considered the master
copy. The photostat distributed by the Readiness Division very often was the first to appear for accessioning. The advance copy and those appended to the war diaries likewise were acquired from COMINCH file room.
All action reports are filed by originators. However, it is intended in the near future to incorporate the photostat copies into the Class III area file under the pertinent operation. Any gaps found to exist in the photostat collection will be filled in by utilizing one of the extra copies on hand.
Separate cabinets of guide cards (3x5) (duplicates) enable searchers to locate action reports either by origination or operation. The "A" file indicates "author" and the "B" file similarly indicates "battle." Each card contains a very brief summary of the content of the reports including type command, task group, date, battle, etc.
War Diaries comprise the largest bulk of the naval operational archives of World War II. These are filed by originators and recorded on a Kardex visible index file. Those submitted during early months of the war (when the war diary was part of the ship's log) are of log sheet size, while others prepared in conformance with later revised instructions are of letter size. Except for symbol craft such as LCI's, all war diaries from ships are filed alphabetically; command war diaries sometimes included operation plans or action reports. The 5x8 card file for war diaries also includes microfilm serial numbers.Patrol Reports (submarine and aircraft) are filed by originators
and indexed on a 3x5 card system.
As the bulk of incoming documents increased, additional personnel became necessary. In June 1944 the Office's first WAVE officer, Ensign (later Lieutenant) Ruth E. Delano, reported, who proved so indispensable that she was presently followed in February 1945 by Ensign (later Lieutenant, (jg)) Helen F. Kuhns and in August 1945 by Ensign (later Lieutenant, (jg)) Barbara A. Gilmore. These officers gave their entire time to accessioning.
In addition to its main function of handling current operational records, other useful contributions to the overall war effort were made possible through recourse to the older collections in the Office of Naval Records and Library. At various times during the first years of the war, several departmental offices and bureaus, the Secretary of the Navy and even the President himself solicited the aid of its research staff.
The small group of civilian workers of the peacetime Manuscript Section carried on these activities, first in the main Navy Building, then at the Arlington Annex when the records were moved across the Potomac in March 1941, and finally in The National Archives to which agency the collection was legally transferred in November 1942. In a memorandum dated 11 December 1944 Mrs. A. R. Lawrence, who directed the group, outlined a chronological resume of some of these searches as follows:
1941--Research for the President of the United States for data on neutrality precedents where U. S. Vessels were instructed to attack hostile forces. Many precedents found for 'shoot on sight' order.
1942--Research for Dr. A. C. Davidonis for the preparation of 'The American Naval Mission in the Adriatic, 1918-1921, A study of occupation of foreign territory.'
1943--Research for preparation of an article by Division of Naval Intelligence on 'U. S. Naval Activity in connection with the Armistice of 1918 and The Peace Conference of 1919.'
1943--Research for Commander Charles E. Peterson (CEC) on U.S. Bases at home and abroad in the past, for the training program by Yards and Docks.
1943--Research for a study of demobilization at conclusion of World War I by Ensign T. H. Hamilton, Bureau of Naval Personnel.
1943--Research for material on occupation of Cuba, Vera Cruz, Haiti, Santo Domingo and mandated German Islands in the Pacific for the use of U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School, 431 West 117 Street, N.Y.C., to train men for government of occupied territory in Europe.
1944--Research for data for a magazine article by Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, to show the fallacy of reducing naval forces drastically at the end of every war.
1944--Research for Clifford M. Drury, Chaplain, U.S. Navy, in preparation of a history of the Chaplain Corps.
1944--Research for data relative to U.S. vessels in European waters during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, for Commander F. A. Brook, COMINCH.
1944--Research on American Naval Occupation and Government of Guam, 1898-1902, by Dr. Henry P. Beers. Much of the material for his study was secured in this office.
1944--Research for data on cruise of USS Milwaukee to Truk and other mandated islands in the Pacific, 1923.
In 1945 that portion of the Manuscript Section servicing old records in the legal custody of the National Archives tabulated its activities in a memorandum report which showed that: 196 letters of
inquiry had been answered by recourse to the old records; 226 authorized military and civilian visitors had performed research of various kinds; 73 searches had been undertaken on behalf of the National Archives; and 356 searches had been carried on for the Office of Naval Records and Library.
In addition to research activities, the section continued archival work in the operational naval files of World War I and in the pre-war CNO records which were accessioned from time to time during the recent war. These latter records are eventually to be moved and consolidated with World War II files now in custody of the Office of Naval Records and Library in the main Navy Building.
In June 1943 Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Commander) M. V. Brewington was put in charge of the Publications Section (Op-l6-E3). In July 1944 he was transferred from the Manuscript Section and placed in charge of the Library (Op-16-El) and the Old Manuscript Section where his outstanding knowledge of early naval history and technology was of great utility. In November 1943 he was elected Curator of the Naval Historical Foundation.
Relationship with Other Agencies
From late 1943 onwards, a close relationship was maintained between the COMINCH Flag Secretary's office and the Office of Naval Records and Library, chiefly as the latter had been designated as an extension of the former's File Rooms. In addition, Lieutenant (later Commander) W. M. Whitehall had additional duty with the Flag Secretary during 1944 and 1945, first in the matter of operation and engagement stars and other awards, and later in connection with
the drafting of Fleet Admiral King's second and third reports to the Secretary of the Navy.60 Consequently the Office was frequently called upon to prepare operational summaries of various kinds and to furnish historical material needed for current business in Headquarters. As has been indicated previously, close liaison was also maintained with the Readiness Division.61
As the Office of Naval Records and Library receives the secret and confidential files of the Chief of Naval Operations when they are three years old, a close relationship was maintained with that file room.62
The Office of Records Administration, under the Secretary, with which cooperation and close liaison were maintained, proved of some value in the early months of the war. Charged with the general overall problem of proper disposition of obsolete naval records, it intended, had the proposed field staff been permitted in the forward combat areas for the purpose of obtaining sound recorded personal narratives, to indoctrinate these officers in the fundamentals of streamlining current records in files afloat or in the advanced areas, by disposal of worthless material. It also arranged, when
contraction of space at the Navy Annex became necessary, for the National Archives to accept legal custody of the bulk of the older manuscript collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library to reduce its office requirements and to make room for an expected deluge of World War II records.
In December 1942 Lieutenant Commander (later Captain ) Samuel Eliot Morison, who had been designated as Historian of Naval Operations by the Secretary of the Navy, was offered desk space in the Office of Naval Records and Library, and afforded whatever facilities were available until August 1945, when he obtained quarters of his own in the vicinity. The Office similarly served as an informal center and clearing house for various historical projects until July 1944, when Admiral E. C. Kalbfus, USN (Ret.) was appointed Director of Naval History and formally charged with such duties by the Secretary of the Navy. Admiral Kalbfus's first act upon assuming his new duties was to appoint Commodore Knox as his Deputy. As the Admiral was concurrently a member of the Pearl Harbor Court of Inquiry, and had little time to give to historical matters until Court business was completed, Commodore Knox, as Deputy Director of Naval History, and Lieutenant Whitehill63 devoted considerable time during the autumn of 1944 to the affairs of the new activity until an adequate staff could be assembled by Admiral Kalbfus. The Office of Naval Records and Library files are used extensively by personnel of the Office of Naval History, and are also the future repository of
monographs prepared by the latter Office, though the only direct official connection between the two is in the person of Commodore Knox.
Since 1927 Commodore Knox, as Officer in Charge, Office of Naval Records and Library, had exercised the function of Curator for the Navy Department, and in that capacity had been responsible for the safe preservation of objects of historical interest, trophies and relics. In 1945, when it became apparent that these duties with regard to the present war would soon assume large proportions, the functions of the Curator were established directly under the Chief of Naval Operations, with the designation of Op-50-H.64 No separate office space was provided, however, and Commodore Knox continued to operate physically as before, though with a separate chain-of-command for curatorial duties. In these he was assisted by Lieutenant Commander Brewington.
The Sound Recording Project, under Captain Wright and Lieutenant Commander Porter, developed numerous ties with the Bureau of Naval Personnel and the Office of Public Relations, and on occasion furnished sound recording gear and operators for use in conferences--including the United Nations Conference at San Francisco in 1945.
In the summer of 1945 when the last units of the Bureau of Yards and Docks had moved to new quarters across the Potomac and vacated the Navy Building, space in the latter location was obtained
for use of Office of Naval Records and Library.
Ten days after the Japanese capitulation, Commodore Knox, together with his expanded wartime staff and manuscript material, augmented by accessions of air and submarine patrol reports, war diaries, action reports and operation plans, were moved into present quarters in the "E" Building, a small brick structure located between the fourth and fifth wings of the main Navy Building.
Less than one month after the Office of Naval Records and Library had moved to the main Navy Building, COMINCH recommended that "the activities of the Microfilm Library be transferred to the Office of Naval Records and Library (Op-l6-E2) their ultimate destination."
During the period of hostilities, the safeguarding of the contents of the Microfilm Library was necessary for strategic purposes but with the surrender of Japan it was felt that these films could be handled according to their security classification.
Commodore Knox concurred in the recommendation on the assumption that the Office of Naval Records and Library would also obtain the space, equipment, and personnel of the Microfilm Library."65
With the disestablishment of COMINCH Headquarters in October 1945, the entire files of that activity were transferred to the Office of Naval Records and Library, and set up in two rooms in the fourth wing, adjacent to the "E" Building.
In October Captain R. E. Krause was ordered to duty in the Office for the purpose of organizing the microfilming of captured
German documents (in the possession of the British Admiralty) that would be necessary for the completion of the Office's World War II archives. Captain Krause, having accomplished this mission during a three month stay in London, returned to Washington in January 1946, to arrange for translating parts of the documents microfilmed.
Through the willingness of both officers and enlisted personnel to remain on duty beyond the dates when they became eligible for demobilization, the wartime machine continued to operate at normal speed until the end of 1945. With the disestablishment of the Publications Section (Op-23-E4) in October 1945, Miss L. I. MacCrindle and two civilian clerks of many years experience in the Office became available to take over certain of the duties in connection with World War II records that had been handled by naval personnel throughout the war. Since January 1946 many officer and enlisted personnel have been separated, replaced only by some male seamen. Progress has necessarily been somewhat slower than during the war.
In January 1946 Captain John W. McElroy, USNR, who had been at sea throughout the war, reported as prospective relief for Commander Whitehill in charge of the manuscript records. Provision has been made in the budget for the coming fiscal year for two professional grade Civil Service posts as Principal Archivist and Superintendent of the Library, and it is hoped that Captain McElroy and Lieutenant Commander Brewington, will remain permanently in the Office in these capacities.
In retrospect, the chief accomplishment of the war period seems
to be the current assembling and processing of operational documents. At the conclusion of hostilities a set of archives for World War II was in a more advanced state than those of World War I had been in the early nineteen twenties. Much remains to be, and will be, added in the future, but during this war a great deal was completed that only began in the demobilization period of World War I. The staff that was assembled in 1942 (to survey the situation and plan for intense activity during the demobilization period) was able currently to assemble many thousands of documents of permanent value.
By contrast, the reference functions of the Library and the normal peacetime duties of the Office were impeded by the physical scattering of sections all over the District of Columbia which took place in the fall of 1942. Everything accomplished in that direction was in spite of great handicaps of space and time.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
During its sixty-four years of existence, the last thirty of which encompassed two world wars, the Office of Naval Records and Library has not only accessioned a great physical quantity of archival materials but at the same time accumulated considerable valuable experience in the field of naval history. The most important lesson learned is that in planning for the future of the service, whether in war or peace, cognizance must be taken of and recognition accorded to the operational records of the past. The principal missions of the Office of Naval Records and Library are: (l) to arrange and classify such records and to make available to the Navy Department information in them, of current utility in the conduct of its
business; and (2) to provide promptly all published works necessary for research. To carry out these missions with most effectiveness the following recommendations are presented:
1. Provide suitable permanent space and facilities. The office during the recent war was forced to move three times partly through failure to recognize the current utility of source materials in its custody. At the present time the microfilm library, the reference library, the World War II records and administrative offices are in different locations in the main Navy Building; about 100,000 of its books are shelved in borrowed space in the Congressional Library; World War I records are housed in borrowed space in the National Archives; and thousands of pictures and photographs comprising its historical collection are still under ONI cognizance in the Steuart Building. Reasons for consolidating these widespread facilities or activities in one central location are too obvious to enumerate. Space should be readily accessible to the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, whose non-current files already are in the custody of the Office of Naval Records and Library.
2. Carry on the accessioning and archiving of war records. In view of the great scope and revolutionary technical developments that have characterized the war, the accumulation of operational archives of the Navy's part therein is a task of very high importance. Properly arranged and serviced, those records will be a reservoir of valuable source material for professional education, utility in future planning, and all varieties of historical treatment, as well
as for meeting the inevitable needs of reference in the future. Some of the wartime functions of the office also should be continued and developed. During the war the Office was called on by COMINCH Headquarters to assume certain important responsibilities for the care and processing of documents which obviously were of historical as well as current utility. The accessioning and servicing of Chief of Naval Operations non-current files at stated intervals is a function which should be maintained, with a view to resumption of the same relationship in any future war.
3. Resume peacetime practice of publishing early naval documents. The publication of naval documents of both the past and present will be of inestimable value in presenting the naval viewpoint to the general public. Similar source materials printed in the State Department's Foreign Relations Series and Treaty Series have been found invaluable for libraries, scholars, and the general public. The naval series thus far issued by this office includes some 30 volumes of the operational records of the Civil War, 7 volumes of Quasi-War with France and 7 volumes of the Barbary Wars. To complete this series, documents of the War of 1812 and those for World War I (the latter already prepared but not printed due to lack of funds), should likewise be published.
4. Provide for expansion and development of the Curator function. The Office of Naval Records and Library should have suitable permanent exhibit space available either in a naval museum ashore or by the utilization of historical vessels converted for that specific purpose. There are already in existence a considerable quantity of relics and
pictures of the past (stored or recorded as to custody elsewhere); and before many of those of the current era are destroyed or lost, some provision should be made for their safe preservation. This function may be assumed by the Curator for the Navy Department (Op-213); if so, all objects in the custody of Op-23-E should be transferred.
5. Consolidate the Office of the Curator and the Office of Naval History with the Office of Naval Records and Library. Combined curatorial, historical and records-library activities should then be carried on under the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Administration), rather than under the Secretary's office, CNO, and ONI as at present. In the recent war (as in World War I) the Office of Naval History got off to a belated start, primarily because historical activities had been allowed to lapse in the 20's. The mistake of making the historical section a temporary wartime office would not be repeated were its functions and activities coordinated and consolidated with Office of Naval Records and Library--the whole section in peacetime carried on under the direction of three civilians of professional status qualified in the fields of History, Archives and Library respectively. The writing of naval history should be fostered and perpetuated rather than allowed to lapse as was the case after World War I.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (11) * Next Chapter (13)
1. For the original of this PART see the files of Naval Records and Library, Op-23E. Copies of same with covering memorandum of transmittal in Op-23Cl files.
2. Public Act No. 217 of 7 Aug. 1882. In response on 15 Nov. 1882, Captain John Grimes Walker, USN, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, reported to the Secretary of the Navy that there were approximately 7,000 books on hand in the departmental library, mostly relics of old ships' libraries, and further stated that these were of comparatively little value.
3. General Order No. 292 of 23 Mar. 1882. In 1889 the Office of Intelligence was transferred to the Secretary's Office, where it remained until the outbreak of the Spanish American War, when it was again transferred to the Bureau of Navigation. The Library was left under the Secretary until 1919.
4. Public Act of 5 Aug. 1882.
5. Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 1885, Vol. I. The report in part: "...There is certainly no object for which money may be expended more productive of direct benefit than the formation and maintenance of the collection of books of professional reference for the Navy Department, and the crippling of this important work cannot be compensated by a saving to the Government of $1500...
6. Public Act of 30 Apr. 1798, Sec. 1.
7. Act of 26 Aug. 1842, for instance, about the time of reorganization of the Navy Department, authorized and directed a Congressional Joint Committee on the Library to supervise the publishing of "an account of the discoveries made by the exploring expedition under the command of Lieutenant Wilkes of the U.S. Navy," Another Congressional Act on 20 Feb. 1845, again without direct Navy participation or representation, decided that Lieutenant Wilkes' completed report would be distributed by the Library of Congress.
8. Act of 7 July 1884.
9. B. F. Tracy, Secretary of the Navy, Circular ltr., 31 Oct. 1889.
10. See Appendix A in Supplement, PART XII for data on "Annual appropriations, for Personnel, and Printing for the Library and Naval War Records, 1884-1946."
11. E. K. Rawson, Report of the Superintendent of Library and Naval War Records, 31 July 1901, in the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1901.
12. Charles Stewart. Report of the Superintendent of Library and Naval War Records, 29 Sept. 1903, in the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1903.
13. Public Acts Nos. 189 and 336 of 27 Apr. 1904 and 29 June 1906 respectively.
14. Public Act No. 402 of 2 Mar. 1913.
15. D. W. Knox, "Our Vanishing History and Traditions," USN Institute Proceedings, January 1926.
16. Snow's, "Historical Sketch." Based on personal recollections of those who served in the Library. One recalled that while Theodore Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he took active interest in Library matters and later as President, telephoned the Librarian from the White House on one occasion "that the shades were drawn unevenly" and another that "growing plants should not be placed in the Library windows."
17. Secretary of War, ltr. 3 June 1918.
18. OpNav Dispatch to Admiral Sims, 22 June 1918.
19. Sims, Cablegram to OpNav, 30 June 1918. Lieut. Tracy Barrett Kittredge, U.S.N.R.F., one of Sims' officers, undertook this study. From this and subsequent experience acquired in World War I, Kittredge, who returned to active duty in April 1942, prepared and submitted such an excellent and thorough analysis of the "Problems Involved In Systematic Collection And Classification Of War Documentation; Office of Naval Records," that it has since become the standard and basis for archival activities in the Office of Naval Records and Library. See Appendix C, in Supplement, PART XII.
20. Secretary of Navy, Circular letter, 18 Aug. 1918. In Washington, History Section headquarters was located in close proximity to the principal offices of the Department in the Navy Building.
21. Secretary of the Navy, Order of 1 July 1919. This restored the Library to the Office of Naval Intelligence with which it was originally established in 1882. In 1889 it had passed into the jurisdiction of the Secretary's Office.
22. Legislative Act of 1 July 1919.
23. Secretary of the Navy. Circular ltr. 13 June 1919. Ultimately the Office of Naval Records and Library, as the logical depository for all operational records, inherited this material.
24. ALNAV 86, 14 Mar. 1919.
25. H. F. Luneriburg. Chronological History of Office of Naval Records and Library. 15 July 1931.
26. Secretary of the Navy Annual Report, 15 Nov. 1920
30. D.W. Knox, Commo., USN (Ret.). "Memo on organization of Office of Naval Records and Library," 9 Apr. 1928.
31. Its broadened policy and widened field may be observed in Commo. Knox's memo for Director of Naval Intelligence, dated 18 Dec. 1928, which succinctly stated that the mission of Office of Naval Records and Library was: "To acquire, systematically arrange, and preserve, manuscript, pictorial and technical Naval information; and to make such information readily available to the Naval service and the public." (In the files of Office of Naval Records and Library.)
32. D.W. Knox, in a ltr. to Committee on Naval Affairs, dated 7 Feb.1929 stated: "It seems pertinent for me to add that the number of clerical employees attached to this office has been steadily reduced, from a peak of 32 in 1922, when 17 were employed jointly on Old Naval Records and in the Library, while 15 were engaged on World War work. The present number is 22....This notwithstanding a substantial increase in work of the Library and Old Records."
33. D.W. Knox, ltr. dated 7 Feb. 1929: "After coming to duty here it was necessary for me to give considerable study to the question of an appropriate scheme of archives into which all of the heterogeneous matter could be permanently incorporated systematically. This was obviously necessary to avoid tremendous future losses of time in accomplishing the immediate task which Congress had set us as well as in all future research work. The most eminent archivists in the city were consulted and a comprehensive plan adopted which was appropriate for the old records as well as the new."
34. When, for the purpose of making a single appropriation after 1927, both of these sections were consolidated, a memo to Capt. William Baggaley, USN, in Chief of Naval Operations, dated 12 Aug. 1932, suggested that the distinction still be observed between two types of materials and activities in the Office of Naval Records and Library: "World War Records" Section, then under Lieut. Charles B. McVay, III, USN; and the older, original section, designated "Old Records" under direct supervision of the Officer-in-Charge. (In the files of Office of Naval Records and Library).
35. See Appendix D in Supplement, PART XII, for Rosters of officers and other personnel assigned to Office of Naval Records and Library.
36. See Appendix B in Supplement, PART XII, for list of publications of the Office of Naval Records and Library.
37. The early casual relationship between the Historical Section and the Office of Naval Records and Library before their actual consolidation in 1927, is indicated by a single sentence in Secretary Denby's Report for 1921, which summarized their activities as follows: "The activities of the Historical Section and the Library and Naval War Records Section continue with a view to the eventual publication of the Naval records of the World War."
38. SECNAV's Report 1923, pp. 160, 162--Edwin Denby.
39. Secretary James Forrestal, in a ltr. to all ships and stations, dated 28 Apr. 1945 (15 years later) stated: "...The functions of the Curator for the Navy Department are hereby placed under the cognizance of the Chief of Naval Operations who will promulgate such instructions with respect thereto as may be deemed necessary..."
40. See Appendix E in Supplement, PART XII, for a complete list of these and other works published by the Office of Naval Records and Library.
41. F. D. Roosevelt, Itr. dated 27 Dec. 1938 (beginning typically "My dear Dudley.")
42. D. W. Knox in a Circular, dated 15 Apr. 1936, authorized one of the office employees on his own time and with his own materials "...to supply photographs for other than official purposes..." "...In order to meet the frequent demands for such service and as a convenience to the public..."
43. D. W. Knox. "Our Vanishing History and Traditions," in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1926.
44. Plans ultimately resulted in establishment of the Naval Historical Foundation. This non-profit organization accepts gifts of documents, relics, etc., and retains them in custody for the Office of Naval Records and Library thus eliminating necessity for Congressional action were they presented to Navy or other Governmental departments.
45. Since 1919 the clerical force had been reduced from 32 civilian employees to 21, and the officer complement from 5 to a single naval officer assigned to duty in the Office of Naval Records and Library, in addition to the officer-in-charge.
46. In Apr. 1941 the reference library moved to Room 3635; in Nov. 1942 to 3830; in Aug. 1943 to 3641 and in Feb. 1944 to 3642.
47. As a matter of wartime necessity, this section operated after Pearl Harbor in a semi-autonomous capacity, and as it had grown out of a logical relationship with the rest of the Office it was, with Commodore Knox's concurrence, transferred to the P branch of O.N.I, in the reorganization of Mar. 1943. For details of the Graphic Section see 16-P-5 section in preceding PART X of this History.
48. Much of the material on the preliminary activities and selection of officer personnel during the early months of World War II was taken from an unpublished monograph prepared in 1943 by Commander W. M. Whitehall, USNR, who reported for duty in the Manuscript Section in November 1942, and served as Officer-in-Charge of the Section from March 1945 to June 1946.
49. All War Diaries, Submarine Patrol Reports, Action Reports and many personal narratives were microfilmed immediately after they were received in headquarters. Each bureau and office concerned designated a representative "reader" who was enabled to have immediate access to the film of the original report. In 19422, Commander Cleveland McCauley was placed in charge of the Reading Room which shortly thereafter was officially designated as the Microfilm Library. A detailed account of the personnel, operation and accomplishments of the Microfilm Library may be found in the history of the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief. After the dissolution of CominCh in October 1945, activities of the Microfilm Library were turned over to the Office of Naval Records and Library.
50. See APPENDIX C in Supplement, PART XII for complete copies of these two basic memoranda.
51. In this memo Commo. Knox reported: "...The duties of the Washington staff also include the indexing and filing of the records received in order to make the information contained instantly available. The present flow of documents is only a fractional part of the files that will be received as the war progresses and nears its end. Microfilming is being used to the utmost to minimize the space problem. One officer devotes his full time to general problems of planning this classification. This officer, with the assistance of the officers described in paragraph 4 maintains a high degree of familiarity with the information in the materials received, in order to insure its fullest usefulness. The mechanical work of indexing and cross-indexing these papers is carried out by a staff of yeomen under the direction of a warrant officer. This staff is at present large, but as the back accumulation of war diaries is processed, this work can be kept up by fewer men..."
52. Later on, this view was modified by COMINCH ltr. Serial 2770, dated 1 May 1943 which "...approves the assignment of two recordgraphs, with operating personnel, to the Pacific Fleet, for the purpose of recording action narratives of Fleet personnel...." with the understanding that one machine would be used at Pearl Harbor and the other at discretion of Commander Third Fleet. All recordings to be sent to COMINCH for censorship and disposition.
53. He subsequently, in 1944 returned to Washington as historical officer for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
54. Lieut. Summersell, after two years of duty in the Pacific--partly on the staff of ComSubsPac and partly in the Analytical Section of CinCPac's Headquarters, returned to the Office of Naval Records and Library in May 1945 and served until the following December, when he was ordered to inactive duty.
55. Lieut. (later Lt. Comdr.) Kemble was, shortly after his arrival at Pearl Harbor, ordered to the Analytical Section of CinCPac's headquarters, and later had additional duty as Assistant Historical Officer of the Pacific Fleet.
56. Lieut. D. B. Tyler remained in Washington to fill the vacancy caused by Lieut. Kemble's assignment to Pearl Harbor. Lieut. M. R. Dickson became officer in charge of Foreign Intelligence Records in O.N.I. Lieut. E. R. Shopen and Ens. C. K. Byrd qualified themselves as operational intelligence officers, while Ens. R. C. Haskett went to sea.
57. Comdr. (later Capt.) Wright maintained a very active interest in sound recording activities throughout the war. In Mar. 1945 he was relieved by H. Comdr. Whitehill as officer in charge of the Manuscript Section (Op-l6-E2), so that he might be free to give his full time to them.
58. Consequently during the remainder of the war historical officers wishing to work in the Office of Naval Records and Library were required to make written application to Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. Authorizations were prepared (after thorough investigation) by the COMINCH Security Control Officer (F-2U) and signed by Admiral R.S. Edwards.
59. Appendix F in Supplement PART XII, gives a week by week tabulation of the documents accessioned, indexed and bound from Apr. 1943 until after V-J day.
60. In July 1944, upon Admiral King's approval of the Flag Secretary's proposal to prepare documentation upon the history of CominCh Headquarters, Whitehill was made available for this additional duty by Commo. Knox, and is now (May 1946) completing the writing of this history.
61. With the dissolution of COMINCH Headquarters in October 1945, its Microfilm Library was (because of the close association of interests) transferred to the Office of Naval Records and Library.
62. For want of space in the Arlington Annex, the CNO files were maintained in the National Archives (in offices made available by the Archivist) under the supervision of Lieut. (later Lt. Comdr.) N. M. Blake.
63. Whitehill had been relieved of his duties in the Manuscript Section for the purpose of assisting Commo. Knox in matters concerning the Office of Naval History.
64. In the Oct. 1945 reorganization of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Curator was redesignated Op-213, without change of functions.
65. The Microfilm Library, redesignated Op-23-E2a, remained in charge of Captain Cleveland McCauley, USN (Ret.), who directed its operations during the war. Upon his return to inactive duty in June 1946, it will be merged with the other activities of Op-23-E2.