Naval Historical Collection, Naval War College Library – Newport, RI
By Ryan Wadle
Texas A&M University
The Naval Historical Collection housed at the Naval War College Library in Newport, Rhode Island, contains an extensive and valuable archival collection for students of American naval history. Students wishing to access the collection can apply for the Edward Miller Research Fellowship in Naval History, sponsored by the Naval War College Foundation, which awards up to $1,000 for research at the Collection. The library itself is a very short drive from nearby Newport or Middletown, both of which have options for inexpensive lodging. Hotel rates can vary by season, but peak during the late summer months when tourists flock to Newport for its yachting and sailing scene. Dining options in the area range from the inexpensive to the extravagant and cover a wide variety of cuisines.
Because the library is located on an active military installation, advance notice of a visit is required to obtain a temporary parking pass. Once researchers enter the library itself, they must obtain a visitor’s badge at the security station to access the remainder of the building. As of this writing in 2011, the primary point of contact for researchers is Dr. Evelyn Cherpak, who, it should be noted, is one of the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful people you will find in this line of work. The reading room is an extremely quiet and unhurried environment, and only rarely are multiple researchers working at the same time. One advantage of this arrangement is that record pulls for researchers are done on a need basis and not on a set schedule. The reading room is shuttered each day for approximately one hour for lunch. The Collection is broken down into three primary components: archival collections about the Naval War College and its curricula, student theses, and intelligence that includes information on the U.S. and foreign navies; manuscript collections for many key naval officers and civilians; and oral histories compiled by the Naval Historical Collection and other outside sources.