Author Archive

Nov 28

Unadilla-Class Gunboats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 11:59 AM

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Lithograph of the USS Unadilla (1861) underway.

Did you know that today, on the 28th of November, 1863, the USS Chippewa convoyed the Army transports Monohansett and Mayflower up Skull Creek, South Carolina, on a reconnaissance mission? I don’t imagine the majority of folks do, unless they are American Civil War buffs, but I learned that particular fact perusing through today’s events in history, looking for a subject for my blog post. While the specifics of this mission (which was successful, by the by) aren’t the subject of my blog post today, looking into this event was the catalyst for what I will be covering: Unadilla-class gunboats…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 31

Naval Superstitions – A Sailor’s Antiquated Guide to Avoiding Bad Luck

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 9:55 AM

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An eerie glow winks out from diving helmets aboard the USS Escape (ARS-6), serving as Jack-O'-Lanterns for the ship.

It’s that time of year once again! Where children and adults alike dress up, go to fun parties, and probably eat far too much candy. It’s also a time of spooky stories and superstitions, which is what I decided to research for my dive into naval history this month. Growing up in Wisconsin, sailors and maritime life was not something familiar to me. Most of my impressions of sailors came from movies, television, and books, and one theme always stuck out more than any other: they were just a little bit spooky! There always seemed to be an air of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 25

There are Bears in the Archive!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 8:03 AM

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Machinist Mate turned bear keeper feeds his new charge.

During the course of a day working in the USNI Photo Archive, a digital archivist can make their way through a lot of photographs. And I mean a lot of photographs. After a while, they can all just seem to blend together, becoming some strange amalgamation of a battle scene, an aircraft, and a naval vessel in the mind’s eye. That’s why it’s always a treat when a photograph comes along that breaks through the cycle, and brings you something new, or fun, or exciting. Takes this photograph here: Cool, right? Who wouldn’t be drawn in by this photo? Renewed… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 28

A Sailor’s Best Friend: Dogs in the Military

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 11:17 AM

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Mascot Card for U.S. Navy Mascot Apache

While working on the U.S. Naval Institute’s photo digitization project, I happened upon a folder of photographs filled with something that always brings joy to my heart: Dogs! It may be a few days after the official National Dog Day, but for dog lover’s, every day is for the dogs, and I thought I’d use today to share some history on dogs in the military. We know that dogs have been keeping us company since before 10,000 BCE. By becoming our companions, dogs also became our allies against our enemies, whether they be the animals early man hunted, or men… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 22

The Diligence of the Blue Angels

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:01 AM

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Blue Angel F11F-1 Tiger aircraft fly past the Golden Gate Bridge in formation.

It’s that time of year once again, dear reader: Graduation Week. Lots of speeches, potlucks with family, and celebrations are held around the country to commemorate the completion of years of hard work for students young and old. And with everyone wanting to make these celebrations special, it’s no surprise that the Naval Academy goes all out for this event. Which brings me to my topic for this blog post: The Blue Angels. Tomorrow the windows of my building will rattle as the Blue Angels zip by on practice runs for their Wednesday performance. If I go out to the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 24

John Paul Jones and the North Channel Naval Duel

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 12:01 AM

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The USS Ranger and HMS Drake engaged in battle in the North Channel.

Dear reader, have you heard of John Paul Jones? Prior to working at the Naval Institute, I would have an easier time discussing Davey Jones than John Paul Jones. The first time he came up in conversation I could only nod my head and feign understanding, making a mental note to trawl the internet for information later. Thinking back on all the American History I’ve absorbed in every level of schooling, I cannot recall a single mention of John Paul Jones and that is a detriment to education. Jones is a fascinating character in history. Today, April 24, is the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 27

The Naval Act of 1794: Piracy and the U.S. Navy’s Re-Birth

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 3:00 PM

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Painting of the USS Constitution, the first ship completed after the re-establishment of the Navy.

I learned something today, dear reader. For nine long years, the United States didn’t have a Navy. Nine years! Between August 1785 and 27 March 1794, there were no Naval officers, nor sailors, not even a single ship to the Navy’s name. Yes, today is the anniversary of the rebirth of the United States Navy, and it is all thanks to pirates. At the end of the Revolutionary War in August 1785, Congress sold the last Continental Navy ship, the Alliance. There just simply wasn’t enough money available to maintain a ship or support a naval force. Moreover, the United… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 27

Reclaiming Lost Photos

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 12:01 AM

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Photograph being placed in the humidification chamber.

Imagine you have a photograph of an event that you know would look just perfect framed on the wall. You also think your family and friends would enjoy having their own copy of the photo, and really want to digitize and email it to them. Depending on how the photograph was stored, this whole scenario can take less than ten minutes to complete. You, however, have a problem: the photograph was stored in a tube, and now refuses to lie flat.   At an archive like the U.S. Naval Institute, running into a problem like this isn’t out of the… Read the rest of this entry »