By JOHN HAYNES
On Aug. 25, during a ceremony in the Librarian's office, officials of the Naval Historical Foundation gave the Library of Congress its extensive collection of the personal papers and records pertaining to the history of the American Navy. Attending were Admiral James L. Holloway, chairman; Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn, president; and Captain Kenneth L. Coskey, executive director, of the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) and James Lee, curator for the foundation.
The Naval Historical Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1926 to collect and preserve documents related to U.S. naval history. Most of its members are retired naval officers and sailors and its work has received the support and endorsement of the Navy Department. The NHF collections have been deposited in the Manuscript Division of the Library since 1949. The NHF papers span the period from the foundation of the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War to the 1970s. The collections, after organization by Library of Congress archivists, are made available to researchers in the Manuscript Reading Room. This agreement conveys formal ownership of Naval Historical Foundation collections to the United States and to the Library of Congress.
Dr. Billington called the gift "another step in the longstanding and fruitful relationship between the Library and the NHF." He noted that Hanson Baldwin, the former New York Times military editor, described the NHF collections as "the Comstock Lode of U.S. naval history." The Naval Historical Foundation materials consist of more than 290 collections containing more that 375,000 items. Some of the most important collections of American naval records, including the papers of David Farragut, are included. Farragut first served in the War of 1812 and was one of the leading American naval officers during the Mexican War and the Civil War. He is well known for his order during the U.S. Navy's Aug. 5, 1864, attack on Mobile Bay. When informed that the defending Confederates had strewn the entrance to the bay with torpedoes, he said, "Damn the torpedoes! Captain Drayton, go ahead! Full speed."
Also included are papers of Stephen Luce (one of the principal architects of the U.S. Navy in the late 19th century), William Sims (commander of American naval forces in European waters during World War I), Ernest J. King (chief of naval operations during World War II), William "Bull" Halsey (one of the principal American fleet commanders in the Pacific in World War I), Stanford C. Hooper (the father of naval radio), Washington Irving Chambers (pioneer in naval aviation in World War I) and John H. Towers (who built American naval aviation into the dominating force it became in World War II).
Mr. Haynes is specialist in the Manuscript Division.