Last Friday, April 16th the Navy Department Library was the recipient of a very generous donation. Mrs. Mary Lou Mawdsley, her son Alan Mawdsley, and her grandson Jimmy presented us with 59 cruise books collected by her late husband, Dr. Dean L. Mawdsley. The collection ranges from World War I to the Cold War, with a majority of them coming from the World War II era.
Cruise books are often compared to yearbooks, in that they tell the informal story of a ship and the people who have served onboard. Our collection contains nearly 3,000 cruise books and continues to grow. The publication of cruise books began in the late 19th century to commemorate special events such as the Great White Fleet’s world voyage, and a few were issued for vessels in World War I. World War II helped establish a more widespread practice. These books were not official US Navy publications, and were largely initiated, funded, and produced by the crew of the ship.
Dr. Mawdsley is the author of Cruise Books of the United States Navy in World War II, a bibliography published in 2004 by the former Naval Historical Center now the Naval History and Heritage Command. Dr. Mawdsley was a retired physician with a passion for collecting books. His passion grew into the bibliography, and he was considered an expert on World War II naval cruise books. The contributions he made to the publication and now to our library are significant to researchers and cruise book enthusiasts, and we are very grateful for this incredible donation.