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Evidence of interest in aviation on the part of the Navy Department occurs as early as 1908 in correspondence between different bureaus regarding the possible use of aircraft; and on March 13, 1911, Capt. 17. I. Chambers was assigned to the Bureau of Navigation to have general supervision over naval aeronautics. Because of a general lack of faith in the new-fangled flying machine, however, not much was accomplished until 1913 when the Secretary of the Navy's General Order No. 41, da tod June 23, fixed the cognizance of the various bureaus in aeronautical matters. To the Bureau of Construction and Repair was allocated responsibility for airframes; to the Bureau of Steam Engineering went responsibility for power plants; and to the Bureau of Navigation went responsibility for instruments and flight olothing. On July 1, 1914, an office of Naval Aeronautics, headed by Capt, Mark L. Bristol, was established under the Division of Operations. In the following year this unit was transforred to the newly created Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, where its name was changed in 1917 to the Office of Naval Aviation, in 1918 to the Aviation Division, and in 1919 to the Aviation Section,
In the meantime, the effective use of aircraft in the European var had demonstrated to naval officials the advisability of pressing the development of this branch of the service, On June 20, 1916, the Secretary of the Navy issued a general order outlining for five bureaus their duties relating to the construction and equipment of aircraft. In consequence various units were created in the bureaus to handle aviation matters, The most important of these were the Aircraft Division, established in the Bureau of Construction and Repair in July 1916, and the Aerona
lvision, established in the Bureau of Steam Engineering on June 1, 1917. Activities in connection with naval aviation remained uncoordinated, hovever, until the Bureau of Aeronautics was created by an act of Congress approved July 12, 1921. To this Bureau were transferred the functions of the Aircraft Division, the Aeronautics Division, and other aviation units of the Navy Department. The se functions included the testing of materials, the making of contracts, the outfitting of bases and other shore estab lishments, the drafting of recommendations and schedules for aircraft construction, and the supervision of the service, repair, overhauling, and salvage of naval aircraft,
The Bureau of Aeronautics was formally established on August 10, 1921, and Roar Adm. W. A. Moffett was appointed its Chief.
When the Bureau of Aeronautics was established it fell heir to the functions and records previously scattered among several bureaus. The aviation file of the Bureau of Construction and Repair was apparently added to and expanded by the Bureau of Aeronautics and used as the central
file of the latter Bureau until the advont of the Navy Filing Manual in 1925.
Because these records continued to be referred to as the corrospondence of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, they are described as entry 12 under tho heading of that Buroau. It is possible that certain correspondence among the records inherited from the Bureau of Steam Engineering (Bureau of Engineering after 1920) and the Office of the Chiof of Naval Operations was removed and incorpora tod in the main filos of the now Bureau, but for the most part the so bodios of records were kept intact. All the early aviation files were organized, as were most filos in the Navy Department during this period, on a numerical-subject basis. That is, each number was given an arbitrary subject significance or title, and thereafter all incoming correspondence on that subject was assigned this basic number, with the appropriate subnumber indicating tho serial entry thereunder.
Since the adoption of the Navy Filing Manual in 1925, the Bureau of Aeronautics has in general adhered to the practice of maintaining a cena tral file for the organization, so that records accumulated in the lower organizational units are usually limited to collections of technical records, such as tests, research files, and residual materials not suitable for inclusion in the central file. During World War II many of these secondary files, which had been developed in the late twenties and the thirties, were hastily transferred from the offices where they were kopt to save badly needed space. In some cases they became badly disorganized, and small segments of records not clearly attributable to any office appear to have become intermingled.
This inventory covers the materials in Rocord Group 72, Records of the Bureau of Aeronautics, that had been transferred to the National Archivos by December 1950. They amount to about 3,550 cubic foot.
Chiefs of the Bureau of Aeronautics
Rear Adm. W. A. Moffett
July 26, 1921-Apr. 4, 1933
RECORDS OF THE BUREAU OF AERONAUTICS
RECORDS OF PREDECESSORS OF THE BUREAU
Records of the Bureau of Engineering
The Bureau of Steam Engineering, which in 1920 became the Bureau of Engineering, had cognizance over power plants and related matters concerning aeronautics. On June 1, 1917, such functions were concentrated in the Bureau's Aeronautics Division. They were transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics when it was established on August 10, 1921.
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVIATION, 1914--22. 50 ft.
1 Such correspondence was filed under a special number (736). Although the register of this correspondence (see entry 2) dates from 1911, correspondence before 1914 was not transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics with records of later date and is among other records of the Bureau of Engineering (in Record Group 19, Records of the Bureau of Ships).
REGISTER OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVIATION, 1911-22. 2 ft.
2 Abstracts of letters received and sent, on 5" x 8" cards, arranged by file number and thereunder chronologically.
FILING CLASSIFICATION GUIDE. n.d. 1/2 in.
3 As aviation correspondence of the Bureau of Steam Engineering became more varied during World War I, the file number 736 was broken down into special subjects, such as 736-1 (Stations, Training Stations) and 736-2 (Defense Provisions). The guide lists the numbers and the subjects to which they referred.
Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
The general supervision of naval aeronautics, the assignment and detail of aircraft and aeronautical personnel, and the administration of aeronautical matters outside the naval districts were assigned to the office of Naval Aeronautics, which was established in 1914 in the Division of Operations, office of the Secretary of the Navy. The se functions were later transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, where they were successively the responsibility of the Office of Naval Aviation, the Aviation Division, and the Aviation Section..
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVIATION. 1914-21. 210 ft.
4 Letters received and copies of letters sent by the Office of Naval Aeronautics and successor organizations under the Chief of Naval Operations pertaining to navigation, navigation aids, and the detail and training of personnel. The records include dispatches, day files, and correspondence with the United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, As a result of organizational changes, three different numerical systems of filing were succossively employed. See entries 5 to 10 for indexos, rogisters, and filing plans under these systems.
INDEX TO GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE OF THE OFFICE OF NAVAL AERONAUTICS, 191417. 15 ft.
5 Index (on 5" x gw cards) to part of the series described in ontry 4. The cards contain abstracts of correspondonoo and notations as to source, date, file number, and action taken. Arranged alphabetically by subject, with certain subjects further broken down alphabetically by individual and place names.
INDEX TO GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE OF THE DIVISION OF AVIATION, 1917-19. 12 ft.
6 Index (on 5" x 8" cards) to part of the series described in entry 4. The cards contain abstracts of correspondence and notations as to source, date, file number, and action taken. Arranged alphabetically by subject,
REGISTER OF CORRESPONDENCE OF THE DIVISION OF AVIATION. 1917-19. 14 ft.
I Abstracts of letters received and sent (on 5" x 8" cards), which serve as a register to part of the series described in entry 4. Arranged by file number (050-0327).
FILING CLASSIFICATION GUIDE TO CORRESPONDENCE OF THE DIVISION OF AVIATION. 1917-19. 1 in.
8 A list of file numbers used in part of the series described in entry 4, with an alphabetical subject index thereto. There are two copies, one of which appears to have been used in the earlier days of the system.
REGISTER OF CORRESPONDENCE OF THE AVIATION SECTION. 1919-21, 3 ft. 9
Abstracts of letters received and sent (on 3 1/4" x 8" cards), which serve as a register to part of the series described in entry 4. The abstracts contain notations as to source, date, and subnumber, Arranged by file number.
FILING CLASSIFICATION GUIDE TO CORRESPONDENCE OF THE AVIATION SECTION, 1919-21, i document.
10 A list of file numbers used in part of the series described in entry 4, with an alphabetical subject index thereto.
PHOTOGRAPHS, 1916-26. 22 ft.
Lantern slides (3 1/4" x 4") of smoke screens, dirigibles, aircraft carriers, and related subjects, A few slides are of earlier and later dates.
Records of the Bureau of Construction and Repair
The construction and repair of naval aircraft, except their power plants, were functions of this Bureau. In July 1916 these functions were concentrated in the Bureau's Aircraft Division,
When the Bureau of Aeronautics was established in 1921, it took over the aviation records of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and until
1925 filed its own records in the files started by the earlier Bureau, The records continued to be called the records of the Bureau of Construotion and Repair, however, and for this reason are described here rather than with other records of the Bureau of Aeronautics.
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVIATION. 1917-25. 216 ft.
Letters received and copies of letters sent, until 1921 pertaining largely to the construction and repair of aircraft. The general file designation of the Bureau for aeronautical matters was "2," and this was subdivided by numbers up to 301-2, each number covering a specific subject or installation, When the Bureau of Aeronautics adopted this filing system, it expanded the file numbers to 804 but dropped the letter "2." The system was used until the Naw Filing Manual came into use in 1925. For a register and filing guide, ses entries 13 and 14. Subject index and history cards of the Bureau of Construction and Repair in Record Group 19, Records of the Bureau of Ships, are a source of information on earlier aviation records, For a continuation of this correspondence, see entry 15,
REGISTER OF CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVIATION. 1917-25. 17 ft. 13
Abstracts (on 5" x 8" cards) of correspondence described in entry 12, arranged numerically by the Bureau's filing system and thereundor chronologically.
FILING CLASSIFICATION GUIDE TO CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO AVLATION. 1917-25. 1 vol.
14 A photostatic copy of a list of file numbers and subjects to which they referred.
RECORDS OF THE BUREAU OF AERONAUTICS
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE. 1925-42. 2,416 ft.
15 Letters received and sent, relating to aerology, airship design, landing fields, ships and catapults, personnel, radio, and similar subjects. Some correspondence before 1925 has boon included in this file, but most of it, filed under the system of the Bureau of Construction and Repair as it was expanded by the Bureau of Aeronautics after 1921, remained in the files of that earlier Bureau, described in entry 12. Arranged according to the Navy Filing Manual. For register, see entry 16.
REGISTER OF GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE. 1925-40. 112 ft.
16 Abstracts of correspondence described in entry 15, on 5" x 8" cards, arranged according to the Navy Filing Manual. Register cards after 1940 have been retained by the Bureau,
INDEX TO CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN. 1925-44.
36 ft. Index (on 5" 17" cards) to part of the series described in ontry 15. Arranged alphabetically.