In previous posts we’ve highlighted many of the incredible books we have in our collections here at the Navy Department Library, but did you know that we have a very nice historical manuscripts collection as well? This collection is composed of US Navy-related original letters, documents and manuscripts from the 18th to the 20th century. Highlights include John Paul Jones’ calling card collection from French and Russian acquaintances; a log from the frigate HMS Lizard during the Revolutionary War; documents relating to the service of Naval hero Asa Curtis during the War of 1812; and a scrapbook of Seaman 1st Class William G. Kelly, who served in the Yangtze Patrol in the 1930s. Other items include a wide range of signed documents and letters written by and to personages such as William Bainbridge, John Dahlgren, George Dewey, David Farragut, Isaac Hull, Abraham Lincoln, Matthew Maury, James Monroe, Matthew C. Perry, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Tingey, Thomas Truxton, and Gideon Welles.
Manuscript materials are unavailable for loan and must be consulted in the library. Photocopying of manuscripts, as well as fragile items, is generally prohibited, though the use of digital cameras by researchers to reproduce non-copyrighted materials is permitted. Permission to photocopy a few pages may be granted by the reference staff, contingent upon the physical state of items. All photocopying of materials shall be done by the reference staff, or under their close supervision. The use of personal scanners by non-library staff personnel must be approved by the reference staff on a document-by-document basis.
There are wonderful primary source materials waiting for you right here at the Navy Department Library. Come in to view our manuscripts and let us help you tell your story.