On this very special day in England, we thought it appropriate to mention some outstanding sources for naval history, primarily American. What we call the United States Navy ( a brief, scholarly history) was established in 1794 by An Act to provide a Naval Armament that called for the building of six heavily armed frigates; one of this group, the USS Constitution, is still afloat (selected sources here). Collections of primary sources include: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships that includes every ship’s history from the Revolutionary War onward; Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775-1788, a calendar of documents; Out-letters of the Continental Marine Committee and the Board of admiralty; the seven-volume Naval Documents related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France; the six-volume Naval Documents related to the United States Wars with The Barbary Pirates; the three-volume The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History; and The American State Papers: Naval Affairs covering the period 1794 to 1836. Biographies in Naval History leads to primary sources while Westward by Sea: A Maritime Perspective on American Expansion,1820-189o contains diaries, logbook, narratives, and business records. Numerous biographies can be found at HathiTrust; here are a few on the “Father of the American Navy,” and it is not John Paul Jones. We will follow with an entry on primary sources for English naval history.
Online Primary Sources for American Naval History