Core elements of the U.S. Navy’s historical program are “at risk” according to a recently declassified report by the U.S. Navy’s Inspector General’s Office. The IG’s report on the inspection of the Navy’s History and Heritage Command dramatically reinforces concerns that scholars have had in recent years about the state of the navy’s history program.
According to the report, released through a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive, historical records and artifacts are housed in a precarious environment and invaluable archival material is in danger. The History and Heritage Command’s leadership has not been using due diligence to ensure that naval commands and fleets are creating historical records on their ongoing activities. Moreover, according to the IG report, the Navy’s professional historians, archivists, curators, and librarians who work for the history command feel “disenfranchised” because of “their marginalization in decision processes and lack of advancement opportunity.”
The Navy Times reports that Jay DeLoach, a retired rear admiral and director of the Navy’s historical command has resigned in the wake of the damning inspector general report. The Navy Times article stated, “The IG also reported a growing chasm between the command under DeLoach and the academic and museum community, with whom the center works to provide official Navy records and artifacts to the public. DeLoach had let an advisory committee of esteemed naval historians expire in 2010.”
Specific problems cited include damage to historical paintings, lack of accreditation to museums, a huge backlog of unprocessed archival collections, and lack of awareness that workers at the Naval Aviation Museum had been exposed to toxic metals. The IG did not make specific recommendations but advised the Navy leadership to establish a panel of historians to provide guidance on a “way ahead” for the program.
For background on the report and information on the crisis in the Navy’s history program, National Security Archive staffers William Burr and John Prados, and Larry Berman, dean of the Honors College at George State University, have prepared detailed comments. The “Unredacted” blog invites further comments from readers.
NCH would like to thank Bill Burr and the National Security Archive for their permission to reprint portions of this article.