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Newport, R.I. - Librarians at the Naval War College (NWC) this week began a digitization project of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz’s detailed operational diary covering activities and correspondence of the Pacific Command from December 7, 1941-August 31, 1945.

“This is blockbuster stuff. There’s stuff in there that will knock the socks off many historians,” said professor Douglas Smith who teaches a World War II history elective at NWC. “This is the most authoritative source on the Pacific war available, anywhere. This material will debunk many World War II myths and set straight the relationships between Nimitz and his subordinate commanders.”

According to Smith, the eight-volume running summary is enough to fill 28 banker boxes. The digitization project is being completed in cooperation with the Navy History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, DC, which maintains custodianship of the volumes. The project is funded by the Naval War College Foundation.

“We contracted the service to a local company who specializes in archival digitization,” said NWC Digital Initiatives Librarian Sue Cornacchia. “Pages are mostly a very lightweight onion-skin paper and are extremely fragile. They require careful handling during the digitization process and the volumes include numerous 8.5” x 14” fold-outs that will need to be carefully flattened for scanning.”

Cornacchia said that after the pages have been digitized the second phase of transcription will start.

“These pages have many handwritten notes, line-outs and corrections, We will be seeking many volunteers to help with transcription. Interest in World War II history and familiarity with Navy terminology, especially that used during World War II, would be an asset,” said Cornacchia.

It is expected digitization will be completed later next month. The entire collection will be made available on line for researchers and historians.

Posted by Rosalie Bolender