Archive for January, 2015

Early English Books(1473-1700) on Naval Affairs

January 29, 2015

The Early English Books Online presents transcriptions of works printed in England between 1473 and 1700; over 25,000 titles are available. Among these, you can read such volumes as An account of the nature, causes, symptoms, and cure of the distempers that are incident to seafaring people with observations on the diet of the sea-men in His Majesty’s navy (1696); A famous fight at sea. VVhere foure English ships vnder the command of Captaine Iohn Weddell, and foure Dutch ships fought three dayes in the Gulfe of Persia neere Ormus, against 8. Portugall gallions, and 3. friggots (1627); and dozens more accounts. This site is a great place to find primary sources from the indicated time period, with first-hand accounts of various battles/maneuvers/journeys.


Letters of John Paul Jones

January 28, 2015

There are very few reliable, online repositories of his letters. Two collections – Letters of John Paul Jones, printed from the unpublished originals in Mr. W.K. Bixby’s collection (1905) and The life and letters of John Paul Jones (1913) – come to mind but lack the editorial apparati that are now required components of any document collection. Another work – A calendar of John Paul Jones manuscripts in the Library of Congress (1903) acts as a guide to dozens of letters to and from Jones and presents informative abstracts of them. However, embedded within the monumental Founders Online site are 153 transcribed letters from JPJ to various American luminaries, all with links and editorial work; another 88 letters are listed with Jones as the recipient. The dates range from a June 3, 1777 letter to Benjamin Franklin to a June 1, 1792 missive from Thomas Jefferson. (Jones died July 18, 1792 before this letter reached him.) As the Founders Online is an ongoing project, I would not be surprised to see additional JPJ letters emerge. N.B. For those wishing to read his correspondence while he held command during the Revolutionary War, please consult the indexes to the multi-volume Naval Documents of the American Revolution.

Online Primary Sources: Early Explorations of the United States

January 26, 2015

The last posting dealt with Australia; this one pertains to the various explorations undertaken between 1000A.D. and the 19th century. Needless to say, this is not a comprehensive listing, but this is an enumeration of some sites I have found helpful and educational. American Journeys presents excerpts from source material ranging from the Viking “discovery” of America to the early 19th century. It is a useful repository of information, culling from a wide variety of documents and presenting them all on a single site rather than having you endlessly searching the Internet. Another great site is hosted by the Library of Congress – Early Western Travels, 1748-1846. This is a digital version of the 32-volume work edited by the tireless Reuben Gold Thwaites (his obituary here; selected works here). Another favorite spot of mine (because I have a deep, abiding interest in this area) is Mountain Men and Fur Trade that contains a multitude of primary source material from journals to bills of lading.

Online Primary Sources: Early Explorations of Australia

January 23, 2015

The good folks at Project Gutenberg Australia have produced Journals of Australian Land and Sea Explorers and Discoverers, a site that contains among other writings the work of James Cook, William Dampier, Matthew Flinders, and Phillip King. Entries either have a biography accompanying the author or direct you to the Dictionary of Australian Biography. Primary sources for The First Fleet can also be consulted here as can maps and charts highlighting the European discovery of the continent by sea.

Online Primary Sources: The Publications of the Royal Society

January 21, 2015

In 2011, The Royal Society announced that it had made its entire article archives open to the public. This allows researchers to review the Philosophical Transactions, the world’s first peer-reviewed journal, back to 1665. In addition, the Society’s Proceedings,  as well as its other titles, are now freely available. You can read articles by  Joseph Banks, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and James Cook to name a few. In addition, you can trace the painful search for calculating longitude through the Society’s publications (the oldest article dates from 1665); you can also search for naval topics such as scurvy  Over 60,000 articles are available providing an historical glimpse into the development of science in the Western world. The search screen is found here. Enjoy!

Online Reading Room of the Navy Department Library

January 20, 2015

Here in the online reading room, you can find many publications arranged either chronologically, alphabetically, or by title. For instance, using the chronological listing, you can find many primary sources ranging from the enabling legislation for the creation of the United States Navy to contemporary reports on hurricanes during the War of 1812. A great place to visit!

Video Series on World War II at Sea

January 15, 2015

Victory at Sea is a multi-part documentary series highlighting primarily the American naval aspects of this war both in the Atlantic and Pacific. Produced in the early 1950s, it was a groundbreaking project not to be excelled until the World at War (selected episodes) appeared in the 1970s. Although some thought it was just propaganda, it was far from that – it was a distillation of millions of feet of film taken during the conflict. Some fascinating details about the production of this series can be found in this biography of the director M. Clay Adams. Additional information is available from The Encyclopedia of Television; archives. org also has all the episodes, just not in sequential order.

The “Northern Mariner”

January 14, 2015

Published under the auspices of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, the Northern Mariner publishes wide-ranging articles not limited to the Canadian sphere. The time period involved would be classified as “Modern History”; you do not look here for writing on classical or medieval topics. One of the main  strengths of this journal is the copious book review section. This journal maintains a two year “moving wall” that means that all the issues are available online except for the most recent two years. Even in that case, the indexes for the most recent years are online as well. This title is well worth a perusal. And do not forget to visit the CNRS’ newsletter – Argonauta, a valuable resource in its own right.

Navy Lists

January 13, 2015

These lists contain the names of officers, their rank and the date of their attaining said rank (seniority). The British version for much of the 19th century can be found here in a non-sequential fashion; they start out with the flag officers, followed by captains, and then other ranks, including who is in charge of individual ports and hospital. Non-commissioned officers are also included; i.e., masters, chaplains, surgeons, pursers, etc. Tables for pay and half-pay along with correspondence from the Admiralty are appended. British navy lists for the 20th century (mostly for WWI and WWII) are online; these are arranged differently than their earlier counterparts but are still easy to navigate. American navy lists (technically called naval registers), again in scattered runs, are accessible electronically.

International Journal of Naval History

January 13, 2015

With a distinguished board of editors, the IJNH publishes open access, scholarly articles across the discipline of naval history. A brief perusal of selected issues would indicate that the time period most examined is from the 18th century forward. Book reviews are also included in each issue. The caliber of writing can be seen in John Hattendorf’s article Changing American Perceptions of the Royal Navy Since 1775 in the most recent issue.