Naval Institute Foundation - Vintage Oral Histories Shed New Light

The oral history discipline was relatively new in the late 1960s when the Naval Institute launched its program. The Institute tapped Dr. John T. Mason Jr., an Episcopal minister who had worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War II, as its first full-time historian. When Mason retired in 1982, respected author, historian, and editor Paul Stillwell took charge of the program. There are now more than 250 bound oral-history volumes of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel in the Institute’s collection.

Today the primary challenge is funding. Oral histories are produced solely through charitable gifts the Foundation receives. Opportunities are available to underwrite dozens of worthy histories and to provide much-needed general program support. Tax-deductible gifts can be mailed to the Naval Institute Foundation, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402. You can also make your gift online through the Institute’s website, at www.usni.org (click “Donate”). Please stipulate that your gift is for the Oral History Program.

USNI Photo Archive ‘By the Numbers’

46: Number of five-drawer cabinets housing the main photo collection

51: Special donated collections, including personal photo albums, scrapbooks, letters, and postcards

350: World War II color photos

439: Glass-plate negatives

1,200: Prints in the professional-photographer collection

4,600: Oversized images stored in 46 flat boxes

11,900: Photos of foreign military installations, personnel, and cities

12,000: Images of military weapons

16,800: Aircraft photos

29,100: Combat photos

35,448: Negatives in the main collection

40,600: Images of U.S. personnel from all armed services

41,500: Portrait and candid shots of individuals

58,700: Photos of foreign ships

72,600: Slides preserved in 121 loose-leaf folders

131,500: Images of U.S. Navy ships

442,800: Approximate number of prints in the main collection

One number the Naval Institute is striving to increase is 17,000—that’s how many images we have been able to scan so far and to make available online. Tax-deductible gifts to the Foundation earmarked for the photo archive are used to help digitize photos and protect the rest of the collection until it too can be placed online. For information on how to help, please contact Sue Sweeney at (410) 295-1054 or foundation@usni.org .

 

 
 

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