The Reading Room is open by appointment only.
Food, drinks, and pens are forbidden. Personal belongings must be left with the archivist.
We are unable to provide on-demand reproductions of material. Portable devices, such as a digital camera, tablet, or phone are allowed. A reproduction fee will be applied for high-resolution scans.
Search our finding aids online to locate material relevant to your research.
Locating collections using NHC Archives Online
Using/Accessing the Naval Historical Collection
Research Questions & Frequently Used Resources
You can limit the search by date or the type of record.
In the record type limiter, selecting "Limit to collections" will return records for collections only, rather than people, subjects, series, and files. If you limit to "digital collections" only digital files relating to your search term will be returned.
You can also select specific fields to search. In the facet limiter, you can select to search by keyword, title, creator, subject, notes, or identifier. Be warned that this will narrow your search significantly. It's recommended to do this only when looking for a specific item that you already know exists in the archives.
How do I browse by subject or location?
Use keywords in the search bar to return a list of relevant items to browse. When the results appear, sort further by using the filters on the right-hand side of the screen.
I found something relevant to my research. Now what?
Contact the Naval Historical Collection to set an appointment to view material in our Reading Room.
To do this, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the title and Identifier of anything you'd like to see. This information is found at the top of every record:
Our website has more detailed information on how to set up a research visit at NHC, including how to be vetted for base access.
I want to browse a particular collection. How can I find it easily?
You can use quotes in the search bar to make more specific searches.
If you know the collection's title you may enter it into the search bar in quotes and limit the return to collections:
Alternatively, if you know the collection number, you can also use quotes to search using it. Be sure to remember to limit to collections:
Note that all manuscript collections have a 3 digit collection number:
MSC-001, MSC-002, MSC-003...
MSC-010, MSC-011. MSC-012...
MSC-100, MSC-101, MSC-102...
All NWC archives collections have a two-digit number:
RG-01, RG-02, RG-03...
RG-10, RG-11, RG-12...
You may have to add an extra 0 or 00 to the collection number to get your desired result.
How can I see a list of all your collections?
Listing of all NHC manuscript collections in alphabetical order.
If either of those links aren't working, you can recreate them by entering either "RG" or MSC" into the search bar, selecting "Limit to collections" and "Identifier" as limiters:
This search will a return a list of all NHC record groups in alphabetical order.
I'm not finding what I want. What should I do?
Not all NHC finding aids are available online (yet!). Please email NHC archivists at email@example.com to discuss your research interests.
Does NHC Archives Online include all archival materials at the Naval Historical Collection?
NHC Archives Online does not include all archival materials at the Naval Historical Collection. NHC staff are working to import all existing collections data; new information is added on an almost daily basis.
Not all NHC collections material will be available through NHC Archives Online. Those materials include:
How do I cite something?
Click the "Citation" button in the top right corner of the screen to generate a citation in the proper format. Use the "Copy to clipboard" button and paste in your desired location.
NHC Citations should follow the following format:
Author, "Title," Page or Date. Collection name (for manuscript collections), Collection number (i.e. RG 8, MSC 256), Box number, Folder number. Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI. [URL, Access date (if digital)]
How can I find a rare book?
NHC's rare book collection can be searched via Naval War College Library's catalog.
What is the Naval Historical Collection?
Established in 1969, NHC’s resources are open to all NWC faculty, staff and students, as well as the general public. Our primary users are students, faculty and staff at the NWC, naval historians, scholars, and students of American military and diplomatic history, leadership, and strategy.
The Naval Historical Collection encompasses over 6,000 linear feet of unclassified and classified materials from the last 250 years (1779 to the present). The bulk of the collection is comprised of the Naval War College Archives and the NHC Manuscript Collection.
Other collections of note include NHC's collections of oral histories and rare books.
What do I have to do to visit the NHC Reading Room?
What are the hours of the NHC Reading Room?
The NHC Reading room is open by appointment only. To make an appointment please email us. It is located on the first floor of Mahan Hall in M-13.
I've made an appointment. How do I get to the Reading Room?
If you do not have a military id or a CAC card, we will need at least two weeks notice due to Department of Defense and Department of the Navy vetting requirements for base access. Please contact NHC so that we may forward you the necessary paperwork.
Please refer to this annotated campus map to help you navigate your visit.
You'll first stop at the Pass and ID Office outside Gate 1 for your pass to drive on base. Please note that this check-in can take 30-60 minutes, so come early! If you approach the gate without checking in at the pass office, the military sentry will ask you to turn around.
In the pass office, you will need to present your id as well as your car's registration and insurance information.
Once you are finished at the pass office, take a right of the parking lot and proceed to Gate 1.
The visitor lots are marked on this map. Parking lot designations change often, so please pay attention to the signs in the lot on the day of your visit.
After parking, make your way to the Quarterdeck, where you will need to check in next. Once there, the security officer will give us a call to let us know that you arrived. An NHC staff member will meet you there to escort you to the Reading Room.
Do I have to wear white gloves? Are there any special rules for using the Reading Room?
No! You do not have to wear gloves when researching our collections. In fact, wearing gloves usually damages special collections more because they make it awkward to use your hands. The British Library busts this archival myth pretty succinctly with this video.
But because our collections are unique and irreplaceable, we ask that you handle our books, papers and records material carefully.
There are a few guidelines we ask our visitors to follow when researching with us:
Belongings: Jackets and coats are not permitted in the reading room. All bags, including purses, handbags, backpacks and laptop cases must be stored prior to using materials. Absolutely no ink pens or highlighters allowed. All personal items brought into the reading room are subject to staff inspection on exit.
Food and Drink: Absolutely no food or drink is permitted in the reading room. This includes gum, candy and cough drops. Water bottles and travels mugs are not permitted and must be stored with other personal belongings.
Materials Handling: Arrive at the Reading Room with clean hands, washed with only soap and water. Lotions and hand sanitizers are to be avoided. To ensure the security and integrity of collections, researchers are limited to a single archival box and/or three published works at the workspace. Remove and re-file a single folder at a time from the archival box. Do not remove items from a folder or shift the order of items in a folder. Materials must not be marked on, defaced, leaned on, altered, folded anew, or traced on.
Children: Children under the age of 10 are not permitted in the reading room. Children age 10 to 15 may enter the reading room if they are accompanied by a responsible adult, but are not permitted to handle collections materials
Reproduction/Scanning: NHC staff is unable to provide on-demand scans, photocopies, or reproductions of material not already digitized. During your research appointment, you may bring a portable device for image or document capture, such as a digital camera, tablet, or phone. Flatbed scanners and flash photography are not allowed. A reproduction fee may be applied for high-resolution scans required for publication.
I'm unable to visit the Naval War College. What can I do?
If you are unable to visit us and have found relevant materials on NHC Archives Online you may request copies of items that have already been digitized. Not all of NHC digital collections are available on NHC Archives Online, contact us to see if the material you are looking for has already been digitized. NHC is unable to fulfill on-demand scan requests and is unable to provide copies of entire collections or entire portions of collections.
You may also hire a local research assistant. The terms of employment are between you and your assistant. The Naval Historical Collection and the U.S. Naval War College have no involvement in such negotiations. We do require your research assistant to complete our researcher registration process and follow all terms and conditions for base access.
There are many local colleges that may provide options in locating research assistant. These may include:
CareerLAB at Brown University
Handshake at Salve University
RhodyNet at University of Rhode Island
Handshake at Rhode Island College
Can I request scans of NHC archival material?
NHC staff is unable to provide on-demand scans, photocopies, or reproductions of material not already digitized.
During your research appointment, you may bring a portable device for image or document capture, such as a digital camera, tablet, or phone. Flatbed scanners and flash photography are not allowed. A reproduction fee will be applied for high-resolution scans:
Checks may be made out to the Naval War College Foundation.
I'm looking for information about a family member or other person that was stationed at the Newport Naval Base. How can I start?
The Naval Historical Collection focuses on the Naval War College, navies in Narragansett Bay, and the history of naval warfare. Therefore, we don't have a lot of general Navy or Newport Navy Base records. These may be found in either the NARA collection,181.9.2 Records of the Newport NTS (Newport, RI) or within Navy History and Heritage Command's collections. Reference staff at the NHHC can be contacted at 202-433-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about NHHC and their collections, visit their website.
I'm interested in learning more about a service member, where can I find information?
A good first step is to search the Navy Log. The Navy Log is the nation's largest publicly available archive of Sea Service personnel in U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines. It was established as a tribute to those who have served and a permanent repository of their military service.
If you have a CAC or a DS Login, you can also use Fold3 from the Navy's MWR Digital Library. Fold3 is a genealogical/research database that focuses on military members. It provides convenient access to military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.
For more recent service records, see https://www.archives.gov/veterans
How can I search who is buried in Rhode Island's historic cemeteries?