Sponsorship for Historic Preservation has two core programs: digitizing and preserving photo archives, and supporting the Oral History program.

Photo Digitization and Preservation

The Naval Institute’s photo archive consists of more than 450,000 prints, slides, and negatives dating back to the Civil War—the largest private collection of naval images in the world. Though maintained in a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled archive, these precious original prints are deteriorating before our eyes—curling up, turning yellow, fading away. Gifts will allow the Institute to digitize the most important photographs in its vast archive and ensure that they are preserved in effective, comprehensive, searchable fashion and available to historians, documentary film-makers, veterans and their families, and the public.

Oral History

Spun off from the Columbia University program in 1969, the Naval Institute Oral History Program has amassed an unrivaled body of in-depth personal narratives of crucial naval events as experienced by the great leaders of the past century. These recollections have been painstakingly researched, recorded, transcribed, annotated, indexed, and published for use by historians, students, veterans, and documentary filmmakers. More than 270 oral histories have been completed, and dozens more are on deck. All supply rich detail often lost in official histories, creating an intimate, personal narrative of naval events and personalities. As such, they immediately become invaluable primary source materials for historians, as well as for Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen and Coast Guard Academy cadets. These histories are cited in dozens of influential works of military history each year. Over the past five years, forty-five works of military history, some of them New York Times bestsellers and all of them influential in the field, have cited Naval Institute oral histories in their bibliographies.

Moving forward, the Naval Institute will aggressively identify, conduct, and publish fresh oral histories in a timely fashion, working from an evolving list of prospects. These new candidates will include strategic and operational leaders such as recent Chiefs of Naval Operations and carrier battle-group commanders, as well as naval strategists and chief technologists. The program will also capture the recollections of heroes and pacesetters such as Medal of Honor recipients and astronauts.

Thanks to the generosity of past donors, the program’s entire collection of audio-taped interviews has been digitized. Henceforth, all Naval Institute oral histories will be born digital, and key portions of the histories will be videotaped. Future historians and documentary filmmakers will thus be able to hear and watch these historic figures as they tell their most compelling stories. The oral histories will also be made available online.

For more information on how you can support Historic Preservation, please contact the Naval Institute Foundation at (410) 295-1054 or [email protected]. Or make a direct contribution today as part of your gift to the Institute’s comprehensive campaign.

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