Last week the Naval History and Heritage Command was host to the 2010 National Historical Conference and Naval History Workshop. This conference brought together those working to preserve and share naval history, allowing talk about how historians, museums, and libraries and archives are getting the job done and to learn from each other. One of the sessions focused on libraries and archives, highlighting the amazing naval history collections that are available.
Staff members from the Library of the Marine Corps, Archives and Special Collections; the library at the National Naval Aviation Museum; and the Operational Archives of NHHC shared with attendees some of the interesting items they have in their collections, and why these collections are just as important as the objects held in the museums.
Libraries and archives tell the stories behind the objects. The Marine Corps Archives and the NHHC Operational Archives mainly tell the official stories of the US Navy and Marine Corps. These are the command histories submitted annually, the after action reports, and deck logs. They also tell the more personal stories through collections of personal papers and diaries of both influential and not so well known Sailors and Marines. These collections also tell the social history of the organizations through recruiting posters, photographs, and menus from major events.
Libraries such as the one at the National Naval Aviation Museum help to humanize the objects in the museum and provide the social history aspect of the conflicts and battles. Collections of photos, diaries, flight log books, maps, and film footage help tell the story of naval aviation to future generations long after those original aviators are gone.
The Navy Department Library helps to tell the scholarly and social history of the Navy. With over 150,000 volumes of naval history and an extensive manuscript collection there are many stories waiting to be discovered. We have everything from cruise books to ordnance manuals and most anything in between.
Whether you are looking for the official history or what it felt like to be a part of history, libraries and archives are the place to look. Call and arrange a visit to one of the historical libraries or archives, and let us help you research and tell your story.