View from the Quarterdeck: August 2016

chadbournThis issue of IJNH continues the practice of offering two permanent columns.  One is designed to offer suggestions from our readers of potential titles you may wish to add to your own reading intentions.  The list is eclectic, including not only interesting historical monographs, but also good fiction, and even a notable work of children’s literature as well.  The other column, compiled by Dara Baker, Head Archivist at the U.S. Naval War College, focuses on archives of possible special interest to naval historians and researchers.  In this issue USO Archivist Michael Case offers an interesting examination of the activities of the USO in Hawaii during World War II entitled “Down Honolulu Way: The USO and The Navy in Hawaii” as reflected in the organization’s historical records.  This archive is rich in photographs drawn from the USO Historical Images Collection in Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Our lead article for this issue is by Beth Wolny, a USMC Officer who is also a full-time doctoral candidate in History at George Mason University in Virginia.  In this piece Ms. Wolny sheds new light on the role of women Marines in a combat environment.  Drawing on original sources, her study offers fascinating insights on how senior leadership of the USMC really feels about women in the Corps and the role played by politics.  As she suggests, the final chapter in this important history is far from written!  Her work helps us to understand the process of changing viewpoints in our time on women in combat.  Her article again reminds us of the importance of taking off our blinders and thinking clearly in fresh terms about the very nature of our Armed Forces.  In her dissertation Ms. Wolny intends to focus on the full integration of women into the Marine Corp in the post-Vietnam War period.  Her findings and interpretation will be timely indeed in an era when many experts contend the very nature of war itself is changing!

Our second story in this issue is our first on the history of navies in Africa.  Dr. William Abiodun Duyile of Ekiti State University, Nigeria, examines the highly significant role of the Nigerian Navy in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.  Dr. Duyile concludes that while small, Nigerian Naval Forces were essential in determining the outcome of the conflict in traditional ways that would not surprise a naval strategist like Sir. Julian Corbett, whom he cites in the paper.  Many of Dr. Duyile’s conclusions are drawn from his numerous personal interviews with key participants in this conflict and his understanding of maritime strategy.  Readers will find his comments on the Cold War also of interest.

IJNH is committed to mentoring and supporting the next generation of naval historians.  Beginning in 2014 we have published carefully selected papers and documentaries each year from the internationally acclaimed National History Day at the University of Maryland in College Park.   To that end we include in this issue a special section focusing on two papers and a documentary which were finalists in the June 2016 competition at the University of Maryland in College Park.  Many of our junior colleagues display sophisticated understanding of how to use primary sources for original historical research.

National History Day always attracts numerous entries about naval and maritime history, and especially so this year with the theme of “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”  For example, Noah Hai Lam Rice of Minnesota explored the compelling story of migration of refugees out of Southeast Asia in three waves following the end of the Vietnam War.  Many of these refugees fled by sea.  They experienced unspeakable hardships of all kinds in escaping to freedom over the great commons of the world’s oceans.  Of the 231,000 Vietnamese immigrants who came to the United States, Rice tells us that over 18,000 would end up in Minnesota, which he describes as a “welcoming place for immigrants from all over the world.”  Rice utilized the rich resources of the Minnesota Historical Society, particularly the Vietnamese Community Oral History Project, and records of the Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota in his study..

We also include in this section two studies of remarkable sea voyages of discovery.  Flora Ranis of Florida provides an account of the exploration of Arctic waters by USS Jeanette to geographical, oceanographic and meteorological knowledge, particularly in the Arctic.  She writes that even today over a century later the extensive knowledge brought back in Jeanette’s logbooks is still being used to better understand environmental change in the polar regions.  Theo Sage-Martinson, also from Minnesota, produced an intriguing documentary on the voyages of Sir Francis Drake.  Sage-Martinson reminds us of the significance of sea power throughout history, but especially so in the 16th century as a key ingredient to English world conquest.  These articles contain useful bibliographies.

Please share news of the International Journal of Naval History with colleagues and friends.  If they Google IJNH they will find us.  We publish only in digital format.  Perhaps you have scholarly studies you would like us to consider for publication.  For those supervising graduate work in the academic world we invite you to encourage your students who have made new or interesting discoveries of their own to submit articles for consideration as well.  And we are always interested to learn what you are reading!

Dr. Charles C. Chadbourn, III
Editor, International Journal of Naval History
Professor of Strategy, U.S. Naval War College

(Go to August 2016 Table of Contents) 

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