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Special Collections & Archives

The rare or unique holdings of Nimitz Library.

Finding books in Special Collections

The easiest way to find books in Special Collections is to search for your title or topic in the "Books" tab on main library page, then changing the location setting for your search to "Special Collections." This photo shows where the location setting can be changed.

Books catalog screenshot

After entering your keyword and seeing your results, specify SC&A material by going up to the dropdown menu at the top of the list and selecting "Special Collections & Archives." Click "Search" again to see the new results.

Book Collections

SC&A's book collection is made up of multiple smaller collections:

Annapolis Collection: Original 1845 library of the Naval School at Annapolis (292 volumes). These are the titles that Commander Franklin Buchanan, the school's first Superintendent, acquired for the midshipmen's education.

Park Benjamin Collection: Works devoted entirely to the subjects of electricity and magnetism, assembled by Park Benjamin (1829-1922), Naval Academy Class of 1867 (1,168 volumes). Among the authors represented are Galileo Galilei, William Gilbert, Benjamin Franklin, Giambatista Beccaria, Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, André-Marie Ampère, Georg Ohm, and Michael Faraday.

Vice Admiral George C. Dyer Collection: Library of a member of the Naval Academy Class of 1919, reflecting the varied interests of a naval officer (1,172 volumes). Admiral Dyer (1898-1987) began his career commanding submarines. He served in World War II and the Korean War, retiring from the Navy in 1955.

C.S. Forester Collection: The gift of Frances Phillips, an editor for William Morrow and Company and longtime friend and colleague of C.S. Forester. The collection consists of 54 of Forester's books, many of them inscribed to Miss Phillips and containing her notes about the author and the publication of his works. There are also 12 manuscripts of Forester's books. Forester is probably best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels, tracing the career of a British naval officer from midshipman to admiral during the Napoleonic wars.

General Collection: Books and periodicals covering a vast array of subjects, including physics, mathematics, military science, aeronautics, history, philosophy, literature, languages, art, naval architecture, and exploration. The volumes range in date from the 15th to the 20th centuries and many were formerly part of the Naval Academy Library's circulating collection.

Harry F. Guggenheim Collection: Books once belonging to Harry Frank Guggenheim (1890-1971), philanthropist, aviation pioneer, and newspaper executive (2,990 volumes). Guggenheim was a naval aviator during World War I. He provided financial support to physicist Robert Goddard for his rocket experiments, was a friend of Charles Lindbergh, and served as ambassador to Cuba under President Herbert Hoover.

Dr. Thomas O. Paine Collection of Submarine Books: Books and periodicals (fiction and nonfiction) relating to submarines and submarine warfare (3,476 volumes) collected by Dr. Thomas O. Paine. During World War II, Dr. Paine served aboard the U.S.S. Pompon (SS-267). He became NASA's third administrator on March 21, 1969. [NASA Biography of Dr. Paine]

Chester L. Somers Submarine Collection: Books (fiction and nonfiction), photographs, newspaper clippings and other ephemera relating to submarines and submarine warfare. Approximately 1,700 volumes, plus 18 linear feet of ephemera. Mr. Somers continued to add to his collection until 2011.

Rear Admiral Paul H. Wiedorn Collection: Illustrated books and periodicals covering a range of subjects collected by Rear Admiral Paul H. Wiedorn, Naval Academy Class of 1922 (909 volumes). Among the volumes in this collection are popular magazines of the 19th century, including Godey's Lady's Book.

Book highlights in SC&A

  • Oral histories: Transcribed interviews with many WWII-era prominent naval figures. They are primary sources and often include references to other key figures in the U.S. Navy. Use "Reminiscences" as a keyword to search for these in the catalog, and ask SC&A staff about an index to these volumes.
  • Submarines: A school administrator, Chester Somers, donated a large collection of books and other material on submarines that he collected throughout his life. If a submarine-related title shows up in your search with "Somers" as part of the call number, then it's part of this collection. Also, see this finding aid for the non-book material Somers donated.

Oral history transcripts