Jump to Main Navigation Jump to Main Content
Return to NWC Home >

Naval Historical Collection

Search using this query type:

Search only these record types:


A World Away: Navy Wives

 "The importance of the Navy wife as a member of the navy team cannot be overemphasized." Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. Z-gram 24, 1970


There is no "typical" story for a Navy wife, a Navy husband or a Navy spouse, however, there are certain shared experiences that bind Navy spouses together: deployments at sea where weather can be as much of a concern as battle, months, or even years, apart, and the ebb and flow of moving from one duty station to another. 

The very term "Navy Wife" brings with it certain connotations: widow's walks and long-lost husbands, an often hidden balancing act of family, duty, and self, and the proud wife standing beside her Navy husband as he received a promotion or reaches retirement. Some Navy wives remained at home as de facto single mothers raising families, taking care of households and budgets, supporting one another and their communities. Other Navy wives traveled with their spouses to parts of the world few Americans, let alone American women, had ever seen. 

Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a Navy wife. So, too, is Rosalynn Carter. Hollywood produced two movies titled Navy Wife in 1935 and 1956 starring Claire Trevor and Joan Bennett in the titular roles. Today, Navy wives blog about their lives and share their experiences across cyberspace. 

The Naval Historical Collection includes myriad collections by, about, and related to the experience of Navy wives. From personal memoirs and diaries, like that of Mrs. Louise Johnson Pratt, wife of Naval War College President Admiral William Veazie Pratt, included in this exhibition to dozens of WWII WAVES oral histories and correspondence to sweethearts and husbands one duty and at war, we invite researchers to learn more about their experiences.