The unpublished histories described below record experiences and provide insights into policies, decisions, implementing actions, and accomplishments that are of continuing value in solving the Navy's problems of today and the future. They additionally represent a valuable body of source materials for scholarly researchers in history and other fields.
Comprised of approximately 300 bound volumes, the overall collection is maintained by the Navy Department Library. The group includes narrative histories dealing with virtually every aspect of the administration of the Naval Establishment and the roles it played in assuring victory during the wide-ranging operations of World War II. Some of the volumes also contain brief coverage of the beginnings and early histories of organizations and activities.
These so-called administrative histories were one part of the Navy's effort to record its wartime experience. The first project was headed by Lieutenant Commander (later Rear Admiral) Samuel E. Morison, who early in 1942 was designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox to prepare a history of naval operations. This led to the postwar publishing of the monumental fifteen-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1947-1962).
The second part was initiated after the President directed the establishment of a government-wide program, under the direction of the Bureau of the Budget, to document the administrative aspects of the war effort. In February 1943, Professor Robert G. Albion was charged with supervising the Navy's portion of that project,
including oversight of the preparation of narrative summaries by the Offices of the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, and by the various departmental bureaus.
The Navy's historical endeavors were reorganized on 12 July 1944 when Admiral E.C. Kalbfus, USN (Ret.) was detached from the General Board and became Director of Naval History. His orders were to coordinate the various programs underway, including those of Professors Albion and Morison. Early in 1945, Admiral Kalbfus issued a series of directives relating to the writing of administrative histories. In one measure, he broadened the scope of the project beyond the Navy Department proper by requesting that major Fleet and shore-based commands submit narratives of their wartime experiences. As a result, the United States Fleet, Pacific and Atlantic Fleets, sea frontiers, naval districts, and several independent commands were added to the program.
Admiral Kalbfus's Office of Naval History also provided guidance on the desired scope of the manuscripts, recommending that emphasis be given to such topics as policy formulation, the development of administrative structure, and relationships with other commands. Commanders also were urged to encourage their historians to consult the source materials maintained by the independent Office of Naval Records and Library in Washington that was under the direction of Kalbfus' deputy, Commodore Dudley W. Knox, USN (Ret.). While some organizations utilized existing historical sections and personnel for the project, the Office of Naval History also assisted other commands in the assignment and orientation of a number of officers designated to perform historical duties.
At the end of World War II, the Office of Naval History began the writing of a single volume, based primarily on the administrative histories, that would provide a condensed analysis of the Navy Department's wartime experiences. After initial work by Professor Albion, the
project was undertaken by Rear Admiral Julius A. Furer, USN (Ret.). In 1959, the Naval History Division published through the Government Printing Office Admiral Furer's volume entitled Administration of the Navy Department in World War II. As the title suggests, this comprehensive work focuses on the headquarters offices and bureaus which comprised the Navy Department. Coverage of the administration of the shore establishment and operating forces is limited to brief information of a background nature. Thus, the histories described in this guide provide an important supplement to the Furer volume.
Although the document described herein represent the basic administrative histories of the Navy in World War II, the reader should be aware of other sources on the subject. Numerous subsidiary histories and unbound appendix materials were submitted as supplements to specific volumes in the series. That collection is held in the Operational Archives of the Naval History Division. A description of the histories included in the group appears in Partial Checklist: World War II Histories and Reports in the Naval History Division (Washington: Naval History Division, 1973). In addition, the Navy Department Library has many works bearing on the broad subject of naval administration in World War II.
Each entry in this guide lists authors when such information is contained in specific volumes. An effort to identify other contributors resulted in the location of an overall list of individuals working on the project as of June 1945. Although it by no means records the names of all writers assigned to the administrative histories, the list is reproduced as an appendix to this guide in an attempt to give credit to as many authors as possible.
According to Professor Albion, the following Naval Reserve officers served as successive principal historians for major commands and activities:
Office of Chief of Naval Operations
Lieutenant Elting E. Morison
Commander Duncan S. Ballantine
Bureau of Aeronautics
Lieutenant John Jennings
Lieutenant Commander Clifford L. Lord
Lieutenant Commander Henry M. Dater
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Lieutenant Chester L. Gurthrie
Bureau of Naval Personnel
Lieutenant Commander J. Willard Hurst
Bureau of Ordnance
Lieutenant Bernard Brodie
Lieutenant Commander Joseph J. Mathews
Bureau of Ships
Lieutenant Paul J. Strayer
Bureau of Supplies and Accounts
Lieutenant James E. Colvin
Bureau of Yards and Docks
Commander Frank W. Herring
Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet
Lieutenant Commander Walter M. Whitehill
Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
Lieutenant Commander Laurance Thompson
Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Lieutenant Commander John H. Kemble
Many individual participate din producing this guide. Mr. Edward J. Marolda and Mr. William C. Heimdahl, of the Naval History Division's Operational Archives, are the principal compilers. They worked under the guidance of Dr. Dean C. Allard who heads the Operational Archives, and received additional advice and assistance from Mr. Walter B. Greenwood, the director of the Navy Department Library. Other members of the
Navy Department Library staff assisting in the completion of the work were Miss Mary E. Pickens and Mr. James E. Smith. The Guide's index was prepared by Mr. Marolda and Ms. Nina F. Statum. The final manuscript was typed by Mrs. R.L. Kieltyka.
The histories described in this guide can be consulted in the Navy Department Library. Microfilm or other reproduced copies of the histories also circulate under the inter-library loan system.
Edwin B. Hooper
Vice Admiral, USN (Ret.)
Director of Naval History
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