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Naval Historical Collection

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Home > What is the NHC

What is the NHC

The Naval Historical Collection (NHC) is the depository for College archives, manuscripts, oral histories, and special collections relating to the history of naval warfare and the history of the Navy in Narragansett Bay. Established in 1969 and located in Mahan Hall, the NHC's primary source material are of interest to naval historians, scholars, and students of American military and diplomatic history, Naval War College students, faculty and staff, and the general public.


College Archives

The Naval War College archives contain more than 1,200 feet of records documenting the administrative and curricular history of the institution since its founding in 1884. The archives is organized into record groups (RG) which contain the records of the departments and divisions of the Naval War College.  Information in the archives includes administrative correspondence, curriculum items and publications, conference proceedings, library records, lectures, faculty and staff presentations, theses, World War II Battle Evaluation Group records, and a vast array of intelligence and technical source material pertaining to technological developments and strategic and tactical problems of interest to the Navy.


The NHC includes more than 350 manuscript collections (MSC) containing the personal and official papers of Naval War College presidents, professors, and naval officers who have served on the staff or have been affiliated with the institution throughout its history. These include Alfred Thayer Mahan, Stephen B. Luce, Raymond A. Spruance, H. Kent Hewitt and James B. Stockdale.

In addition to the larger collections, manuscript items (MSI) represent a growing and unique body of documents available for research. There are now more than 600 letters, journals, letterpress volumes, certificates, and commissions in the Naval Historical Collection. Representative holdings in this category range from letters of Admirals David Farragut, Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and William Leahy to a 1783 paymaster's book from the USS Alliance, which was homeported in Providence at the time.

Published guides and finding aids to the collections are available. 

Oral Histories

Oral histories (OH) documenting the life and career of flag rank naval officers, WAVES, Navy wives and civilians who made important contributions to the Navy are housed in the Naval Historical Collection. There are over 500 oral history interviews treating a variety of twentieth century naval warfare topics conducted by the staff of the Naval Historical Collection, the Naval Institute Oral History program, and the Columbia University Oral History Office.

Special Collections

The Special Collections consist of historical newspapers, including the only extant run of the Newport Navalog (the Newport Naval Station's paper), pamphlets treating naval history topics, association books and Office of Naval Intelligence Monthly Information Bulletins.

Rare Books

The Rare Books Collection includes more than 4,000 volumes dating from the sixteenth century to the present.  The collection primarily focuses on maritime issues and the history of naval warfare, but significant works on myriad other topics, ranging from world history and politics to science, art, and literature, are also available for research.