Historical Records

The list below of secondary sources, dissertations, and primary sources contained in archives and libraries related to ONR is not exhaustive. It is intended to provide an overview of the kinds of resources available to researchers and others seeking to find publicly accessible documents and information about the Office of Naval Research, its research activities, and its relationship with the development of science and technology in the United States and the world since the end of World War II.

Secondary Sources

  1. Albion, Robert G. “The Administration of the Navy, 1816-1947,” Public Administration Review 5 (1945): 293-302.
  2. Althoff, William F. Arctic Mission: 90 North by Airship and Submarine. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011.
  3. Beyer, Kurt W. Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.
  4. Bowen, Harold G. Ships, Machinery and Mossbacks: The Autobiography of a Naval Engineer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1954.
  5. Buderi, Robert. Naval Innovation for the 21st Century: The Office of Naval Research since the End of the Cold War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2013.
  6. Davis, Vincent. Postwar Defense Policy and the U.S. Navy, 1943-1946. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1966.
  7. Dupree, A. Hunter. Science in the Federal Government: A History of Politics and Activities to 1940. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957.
  8. Furer, J. A. Administration of the Navy Department in World War II. Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, 1959.
  9. ________. “Narrative History of the Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development.” [s.l. : s. n., 1946].
  10. ________. “Naval Research and Development in World War II,” Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers 62 (1950): 21-53.
  11.  ________. “Research in the Navy,” Journal of Applied Physics 15 (March 1944): 209-13.
  12. Jackson, Donald, and Louise Herring. “Administrative History: Office of Research and Inventions, 1 July – 31 December 1945,” [s.l. : s. n., 1948].
  13. Kaharl, Victoria A. Water Baby: The Story of Alvin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  14. Kevles, Daniel J. The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.
  15. Mendelsohn, Everett, Merritt Roe Smith, and Peter Weingart, eds. Science, Technology and the Military. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988.
  16. Old, Bruce S. (“The Bird Dogs”). “The Evolution of the Office of Naval Research,” Physics Today 14 (August 1961): 30-35.
  17. Office of Naval Research. A Decade of Basic and Applied Science in the Navy. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1957.
  18. ________. Fifty Years of Excellence in Support of Naval Science: A Symposium in Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Office of Naval Research. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1996.
  19. ________. Office of Naval Research: Forty Years of Excellence in Support of Naval Science. Arlington, VA: Office of Naval Research, 1986.
  20. ________. Office of Naval Research: Investing in the Future, 1946-1996. Arlington, VA: Office of Naval Research, 1996.
  21. ________. Science and the Future Navy: A Symposium. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1977.
  22. Piccard, Jacques, and Robert Dietz. Seven Miles Down. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1961.
  23. Pittsburgh University Historical Staff. “The History of United States Naval Research and Development in World War II.” [s.l. : s. n., 1949?].
  24. Roland, Alex. “Science and War.” Osiris, 2nd series, Vol. 1 (1985): 247-72.
  25. Salkovitz, Edward L., ed. Science, Technology, and the Modern Navy: Thirtieth Anniversary, 1946-76. Arlington, VA: Office of Naval Research, 1976.
  26. Sapolsky, Harvey M. Science and the Navy: The History of the Office of Naval Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  27. Stewart, Irwin. Organizing Scientific Research for War: The Administrative History of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1948.
  28. U.S. Congress. A History of Science Policy in the United States, 1940-1985. Report Prepared for the Task Force on Science Policy, Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, 99th Congress, 2nd Sess. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1986.
  29. Weir, Gary E. An Ocean in Common: American Naval Officers, Scientists, and the Ocean Environment. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2001.
  30. Weyl, F. Joachim, ed. Research in the Service of National Purpose: Proceedings of the Office of Naval Research Vicennial Convocation. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1966.


  1. Bazow, Steve. “The Effectiveness of the Small Business Innovation Research Program within the Navy.” Ph.D. diss., George Washington University, 2010.
  2. Damms, Richard V. “Scientists and Statesmen: President Eisenhower’s Science Advisors and National Security Policy, 1953-1961.” Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1993.
  3. Di Mento, John M. “Beyond the Water’s Edge: United States National Security and the Ocean Environment.” Ph.D. diss., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 2006.
  4. Garner-Williams, Elizabeth. “The Office of Naval Research Support of Underrepresented Ethnic Groups Mentoring Model Redirecting Science Education: An ‘Investigative’ Case Study.” Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 2000.
  5. Hamblin, Jacob D. “Oceanography and International Cooperation during the Early Cold War.” Ph.D. diss., University of California Santa Barbara, 2001.
  6. Harper, Kristine C. “Boundaries of Research: Civilian Leadership, Military Funding, and the International Network Surrounding the Development of Numerical Weather Prediction in the United States.” Ph.D. diss., Oregon State University, 2003.
  7. Matsushita, Marimi. “A Woman Mathematician and Her Contributions: Mina Spiegel Rees.” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1998.
  8. Moore, Kelly. “Doing Good while Doing Science: The Origins and Consequences of Public Interest Science Organizations in American, 1945-1990.” Ph.D. diss., University of Arizona, 1993.
  9. O’Donnell, Timothy. “Vannevar Bush, the Endless Frontier, and the Rhetoric of American Science Policy.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2000.
  10. Rowan, Milton. “Politics and Pure Research: The Origins of the National Science Foundation, 1942-1954.” Ph.D. diss., Miami University, 1985.
  11. Shell, Amy Elizabeth. “In Service to Mathematics: The Life and Work of Mina Rees.” Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, 2000.
  12. Sherry, Michael S. “Preparing for the Next War: American Plans for Postwar Defense, 1941-1945.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1975.
  13. Wang, Zuoyue. “American Science and the Cold War: The Rise of the U.S. President’s Science Advisory Committee.” Ph.D. diss., University of California Santa Barbara, 1994.
  14. Westwick, Peter J. “The National Laboratory System in the U.S., 1947-1962.” Ph.D. diss., University of California Berkeley, 1999.

Archives, Libraries and Notable Collections

City University of New York, New York, N.Y.

Web: www.cuny.edu
Mina Rees Papers

Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Web: www.harvard.edu
Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory Collection

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Web: www.loc.gov

  • Manuscript Division:
    Alan Tower Waterman Papers
  • American Folklife Center: 
    Herndon III, Edward Beverly Herndon III Oral History
    Paul A. Vohs Jr. Oral History
    Sharon Elaine Jentzer Oral History

National Archives, Washington, D.C. 

Web: www.nara.gov

  • National Archives (College Park, Md.)
    Most of the primary source material available concerning ONR is contained at the National Archives facility in College Park, Md. Accessioned documents are found mainly in Record Group 298. This group consists mostly of material dealing with the foundation of ONR in the immediate aftermath of World War II and its predecessor organization during the war, the Navy’s Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development. The National Archives also possesses significant records, the bulk of which date from the late 1940s to the 1980s, within RG 298 that are not catalogued well on the archive’s website and are best accessed at College Park.

    There are also extensive records associated with ONR’s many international offices, the first of which was established in London in 1946, that may be found in Department of State record groups as well as in RG 298. Records of the Naval Research Advisory Committee can also be found in RG 298.

    Other record groups at College Park that may contain material pertinent to ONR, its components, and the Navy are:
    -- Record Group 19: Bureau of Ships
    -- Record Group 38: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
    -- Record Group 52: Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
    -- Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State
    -- Record Group 72: Bureau of Aeronautics
    -- Record Group 74: Bureau of Ordnance
    -- Record Group 80: General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1798-1947
    -- Record Group 84: Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State
    -- Record Group 181: Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments
    -- Record Group 227: Office of Scientific Research and Development
    -- Record Group 343: Naval Air Systems Command
    -- Record Group 344: Naval Ship Systems Command
    -- Record Group 345: Naval Electronic Systems Command
    -- Record Group 346: Naval Ordnance Systems Command
    -- Record Group 402: Bureau of Naval Weapons
    -- Record Group 428: General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1947
  • Washington National Records Center (Suitland, Md.)
    ONR records from the past several decades are kept at this facility. Records kept at federal records center remain in the legal possession of the original submitting agency, so all requests to view ONR records kept here must go through the Office of Naval Research. The records center keeps records officially for 30 years, but because of space considerations there are also other, older records kept here as well that have not been transferred to the National Archives facilities in downtown Washington, DC, or College Park, MD.

National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Web: www.americanhistory.si.edu 
Grace Murray Hopper Collection

U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Web: www.usna.edu
 Robert Dexter Conrad Papers

Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

Web: www.history.navy.mil

  • Archives Branch:
    Vice Admiral Albert J. Baciocco Papers
    Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen Papers
  • Navy Department Library
    This library contains a number of unpublished administrative histories relating to the management of naval science and technology research and development during World War II and to ONR’s predecessor, the Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development (see Secondary Sources above, nos. 9, 12, and 23).

Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

Web: www.library.nrl.navy.mil

The Naval Research Laboratory’s research library is the depository for all ONR technical reports, which detail the progress or results of ONR-funded projects and contracts. Among these also are European Scientific Notes, a yearly publication produced by ONR’s London office that detailed developments in European science. Many documents and books that once were in the possession of the old ONR library are now deposited at NRL.

NRL also has an extensive collection of oral histories, some of which deal with former ONR personnel as well as ONR-sponsored research.

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn.

Web: www.psu.edu

  • Samuel King Allison Papers
  • Alan Tower Waterman Papers

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

Web: www.princeton.edu
Charles Phelps Smyth Papers

University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

Web: www.uchicago.edu
Marcel Schein Papers

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Web: www.utexas.edu
Joseph B. Kruskal Papers

Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Web: www.yale.edu

  • Henry Margenau Papers
  • Records of the Office of Naval Research, Yale University, 1945-1947

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