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Historical Treasures of NPS Unveiled During Dedication Ceremony

Article By: MC1 Leonardo Carrillo

The Special Collections and Archives (SCA) department of the Dudley Knox Library of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) was unveiled to the public during a dedication ceremony on campus Oct. 14.

“I would like to thank Provost Ferrari for supporting the initiative to start a special collections and archive. Our hope here is to take these treasures and make them broadly accessible to NPS faculty, staff, students, alumni and anybody in the world,” said NPS University Librarian Eleanor Uhlinger during her dedication speech. “What you’ll see on display today are some examples of some of the things that are on our collection, you’ll see the tiniest book, the oldest book, you’ll see a fantastic hand-written account of the first U.S. military action in Korea.”

The NPS Special Collections & Archives houses rare books, documents, photographs, realia and other historically significant materials associated with NPS, the Hotel Del Monte and the commands that preceded NPS in residence on its grounds. The purpose is not only to preserve them, but to also make them accessible to faculty, students and scholars of naval history, said Uhlinger.

“Our oldest book is from 1650 by Sir Walter Raleigh,” mentioned Uhlinger. “We have a hand-written diary by former California Governor Ferdinand Low that describes his first-hand account of the first U.S. military action in Korea in 1871.”

In addition to the rare books and documents, the archives will also preserve NPS institutional and scholarly publications, including student theses, reports, NPS publications/brochures, annual reports, WASC accreditation documents, and eventually working manuscripts and archives for significant NPS faculty as well as historically significant items related to the campus and its predecessors, Uhlinger added.

Dudley Knox Library Special Collections Manager John Sanders speaks at the dedication of the Special Collections and Archives at the Naval Postgraduate School, Oct. 14.

“The Special Collections and Archives is a collection of materials that are uniquely ours, they are about NPS or they are NPS created,” said Uhlinger. “We’re actively working with faculty to identify some of the original players who were on those trains that came from Annapolis to do oral histories of their stories. These materials are a part of what I like to think is the “legacy of wisdom” that NPS creates and that the library preserves and promotes. “

The idea for the archives was developed by Uhlinger when she became the University Librarian in 2006 but it gained momentum during the university’s preparations for the centennial celebration in 2009.

“The Centennial gave us incredible impetus to focus on gathering materials together for interpretation and preservation,” said Uhlinger. “We are looking forward to the next 100 years! The content in SCA is uniquely of and about NPS so it is in our vested interest to assure that it is preserved and made accessible to future generations.”

The Dudley Knox Library was named after Commodore Dudley Knox who was the officer in charge of the Office of Naval Records and Library as well as the Deputy Director of Naval History.

“It’s very fitting that the archives be established at Dudley Knox Library since the Commodore was the senior officer on a navy commission in 1919 that developed a plan for progressive officer development that included advanced education,” said DKL Special Collections Manager John Sanders. “The Navy basically continues to utilize that plan today.”

Sanders went on to mention a laundry list of significant people in NPS’ history that have, over the years, left their marks in the annals of the Dudley Knox Library – names such as Capt. H.A. Spanagel who would become the “point man” for the growth and development of NPS and the school’s first superintendent.

“In the time that I’ve spent at the Naval Postgraduate School, I’ve come to see it as a wellspring for intellectual capital that has enormous impact and relevance worldwide and the archives that we have established will help to capture and document some of the important moments, important people and important circumstances that have influenced our lives and the lives of future generations,” said Sanders. “This institution plays a vital role in preparing young men and women for national service, and international service, and for me it is a great privilege to be here and to be involved in the Dudley Knox Library and the archives.”

The archives are accessible Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, or by appointment. Materials are in a secured location but are searchable in the BOSUN online catalog and can be retrieved by SCA staff for patrons. Visit the SCA Web site for more details.

Posted October 28, 2010

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