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Charles P. Snyder papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-141

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of sixteen boxes of manuscripts that document the admiral's naval career from 1896 to 1953. The papers are important not only from the standpoint of tracing an officer's career path to flag rank, but they also provide insights into issues facing the Navy during the first four decades of the twentieth century and they chronicle events of the period.

Series I consists of biographical information and includes an official navy biography as well as Snyder's service record, while Series II contains all of his naval orders from 1900 to 1945.

The largest portion of the collection, however, contains Admiral Snyder's correspondence, which is divided into official Navy correspondence, personal correspondence, and Naval War College correspondence and contains both letters received and letters sent. Official correspondence, 1896-1947, contains requests for leave, transfers, appointments, meetings, assignments, applications, promotions, commissions, reports, fitness reports, medals, awards, requisitions, transportation and temporary duty. Personal correspondence, 1902-1953, contains letters to and from prominent naval officers and family members, including Edward E. Spafford, William A. Moffet, Ralph Earle, son Philip w. Snyder, James O. Richardson, William V. Pratt, Joseph K. Taussig, Chester W. Nimitz, Harris Laning, William H. Standley, Robert E. Coontz, William s. Sims, Joseph M. Reeves, Jonas Ingram and Walter Krueger regarding professional and family concerns. There are letters of congratulations regarding his promotions and letters of condolence upon the death of his wife, Cornelia, as well. The third segment of correspondence contains letters sent and received during his tenure as Naval War College president. These include letters sent to local civic organizations, heads of the various Navy Bureaus and prominent naval officers. Letters to the American Naval Mission in Brazil provide interesting commentary on that activity. There is an insightful letter on the 1938 Munich Crisis as well.

Speeches contain remarks by Snyder upon assuming and being relieved of command of the Battle Force as well as talks on naval topics by unidentified persons. The series contains speeches by Admirals Thomas c. Hart, David F. Sellers, James O. Richardson, William L. Rodgers, Chester W. Nimitz, Ernest J. King and Admiral of the Fleet Lord Keyes, RN, H. Struve Hensel, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, on the United States Navy, seapower in the Philippines, the coordination of the Armed Services, World War II in the Pacific Theatre and Naval Power, as well as dedication and graduation addresses.

Snyder's 1925 Naval War College theses on policy and on command are included here as well as a paper on the principles of war as applied to naval warfare by an unidentified author. There are lectures on the development of international law by Payson S. Wild, Jr., 1938; on the mission a~d work of the Naval War College by William Veazie Pratt, 1926; on aviation in the Sino-Japanese War by LCDR Ralph Oftsie, 1938; and the function of the Naval War College in developing a sound naval character among officers of the Navy by William L. Rodgers, 1923.

Ships' rosters, lists of flag officers, Task Force and Fleet Organization, schedules and locators for ships and squadrons, Bureau of Navigation bulletins, ALNAV bulletins, press releases, fleet operations orders, notices of change of command ceremonies and crossing the line ceremonies, information on The Green Bowlers (a secret organization of naval officers), and ships' newspapers comprise the materials within the Naval papers series.

Miscellany contains a variety of career related ephemera, including reprints of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings articles, editions of Our Navy, naval manuals, programs for concerts, dinners and ceremonies, invitations and menus, diplomas and certificates, place cards, business cards and Christmas cards, maps, career related newspaper clippings, newspapers treating the Spanish-American War and Dewey's victory at Manila Bay, 1898, scrapbooks of the voyage of the Great White Fleet, 1908, and the return of the remains of John Paul Jones to the United states in 1905, postcards, tourists brochures and guides.

Photographs include both family and career pictures. All of the photographs have been identified as far as possible, dated, and the approximate size recorded. There are a large group of photographs of Admiral Snyder throughout his naval career, including his assignment as superintendent of Midshipmen when he escorted Prince and Princess Takamatsu of Japan during their U.S. visit in 1931, of the Fleet's visit to Peru in 1936, of crossing the line ceremonies, of ships of the Great White Fleet, 1907-1908, and of the launching of USS PIKE in 1935 and the Submarine V-1 in 1924.


  • 1896 - 1947


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

Charles P. Snyder was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on July 10, 1879 to Charles P. and Jane Goshorn Snyder. He graduated from the local high school in 1895 and then attended Washington and Lee University for one year. He enrolled in the United States Naval Academy in 1896 and graduated fourth in the class of 1900. His first assignment was at the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, RI, where he took the course in torpedoes and was executive officer of the torpedo boat USS GWINN. He served in USS ALABAMA for four years and then in USS CHATTANOOGA, which brought the remains of John Paul Jones from Paris to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905.

After two years of teaching in the Department of Navigation at the U.S. Naval Academy, he reported to USS VERMONT in June 1907 as watch and division officer. A ship of the Great White Fleet, the VERMONT made the cruise around the world and he remained with her until the fall of 1908. He then reported to the USS CLEVELAND on the Asiatic Station for two years. This was followed by an assignment as senior engineering officer in USS MARYLAND. A three year teaching assignment at the U.S. Naval Academy and another three year assignment in the USS DELAWARE completed his pre WWI service.

During World War I, he was commanding officer of USS OREGON where he trained officers for the war. He then commanded USS MONGOLIA which transported troops and supplies to Europe. He was awarded the Navy Cross for the latter assignment. In the immediate postwar period, he was commanding officer of the USS MINNEAPOLIS.

After a tour at the Portsmouth (NH) Navy Yard, he commanded the USS ARGONNE. Snyder was a member of the Class of 1925 at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, and he continued on the staff for another year in the Operations Department. A second academic assignment as commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy followed in 1928. In 1931, Snyder commanded the USS TENNESSEE and then served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Battleships, Battle Force.

In 1934, he was assigned as Commandant of the Portsmouth (NH) Navy Yard and then served as ColDlltander, Cruiser Division 6, Cruisers, Scouting Force in the USS LOUISVILLE. He was president of the Naval War College from 1937 to 1939. Following his tour in Newport, he returned to the Battle Force with the rank of admiral.

During the first year of World War II, Snyder served on the General Board and as president of the Board for Inspection of Military Readiness of Naval Districts. In June 1942, he was appointed Naval Inspector General and continued on active duty in that post throughout the war, despite the fact that he had reached the mandatory retirement age two years before. He retired from the service in 1947.

Admiral Snyder's medals include the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Spanish Campaign Medal, the Mexican Service Medal, the Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He received an honorary degree from Washington and Lee University in 1943 and served as president of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association. He was a member of the Army and Navy Clubs in Washington and Manila, PI, and Sigma Chi fraternity.

Snyder married Cornelia Lee Wolcott in June 10, 1902; she died in 1944. The couple had three children: RADM Philip W. Snyder USN; Elizabeth Lee, wife of Captain Ethelbert Watts USN; and Jane Logan, wife of CDR William M. Collins, USN. In 1949, Snyder married Mrs. Edith Hanlon Christian. He died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital on December 3, 1964, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


16 boxes

Language of Materials



Biographical information; Official Naval Orders, 1900–1945; Official Navy correspondence, letters sent and received, requests, assignments, claims, and instructions, 1896–1947; Personal correspondence, letters sent and received, with various naval officers, 1902–1953; Naval War College personal correspondence, letters sent and received, 1937–1939; Naval War College official correspondence, letters sent and received, including information on the Munich Crisis, 1938, and the American Naval Mission, Brazil, 1937–1939; Naval War College correspondence, with Heads of Bureau of Navigation, letters received and sent, 1937–1939; Naval War College correspondence, letters sent and received with organizations, including the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the British Empire Club, 1937–1939; Correspondence, letters of condolence received on the death of Mrs. Snyder, 1944; Speeches of Admiral Snyder and James Forrestal, Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Ernest J. King, Thomas Hart and David Sellers, undated–1946; Writings and lectures, including Naval War College theses on Policy and Command, 1923–1938; Naval papers, including ships rosters, Fleet Exercises, Change of Command ceremonies, and ship’s newspapers, 1910–1946; Miscellany, including programs, invitations, maps, clippings, diplomas, certificates, scrapbook of clippings of Admiral George Dewey and the Battle of Manila Bay, 1898, scrapbook of postcards of foreign visits; Photographs of family and career situations, including ships, naval officers and ceremonies. Folio newspaper clippings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Charles P. Snyder, career naval officer and president of the Naval War College, 1937-1939, were presented to the Naval Historical Collection by CDR John J. Waickwicz, USN, of Falls Church, Virginia, in 1993.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US