NHF Announces Knox Prize for Naval History

Captain Dudley Knox NH 48459

Captain Dudley W. Knox, USN, during World War I. NHHC Image NH 48459

In the minutes of the 1948 annual meeting of the Naval Historical Foundation that detailed a post-World War II fundraising campaign led by NHF President Fleet Admiral Ernest King for a naval museum that would open in downtown Washington in May 1950, the secretary wrote:

No member of the Foundation, new or old, will need to be told that what has lighted and guided the campaign by all those named has been the flaming spirit of the Foundation’s original friend and sponsor, Commodore Dudley W. Knox. Surely none among us can be more fully entitled to the achievement of that purpose than he who has devoted so much time, thought, and strength to the establishment of a place where the Foundation’s treasures can be exhibited.

Sixty-five years later, the Navy and the NHF are still in debt for the work Knox accomplished. Thus the NHF is pleased to establish the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing an individual for a body of work in the field of U.S. naval history.

About Dudley W. Knox

The award is named for Commodore Dudley Wright Knox (21 June 1877 – 11 June 1960). A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Naval War College, Knox had a distinguished career as a naval officer with service in the Spanish American War, Boxer Rebellion, Great White Fleet, and World War I. But it was his abilities as a historian, librarian, and archivist that earned him respect and admiration amongst his peers and later generations.

Transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on 20 October 1921, Knox served as Officer in Charge, Office of Naval Records and Library, and as Curator for the Navy Department. The publication of his clarion call Our Vanishing Naval History in the Naval Institute Proceedings in January 1926 led to the establishment of the Naval Historical Foundation. He would serve as secretary and then vice president of the organization for decades and was its sixth president at the time of his passing in 1960.

For a quarter of a century, his leadership inspired diligence, efficiency, and initiative while he guided, improved, and expanded the Navy’s archival and historical operations. His publications include The Eclipse of American Sea Power (1922),  A History of the United States Navy (1936), and multi-volume collections of documents on naval operations in The Quasi-War with France in 1798-1800, the first Barbary war and the second Barbary War.

The USS Knox (FF 1052) was named for him as was the headquarters building for the Naval History and Heritage Command.

It is the intent of the Naval Historical Foundation to annually honor an individual who has made “Knox-like” contributions to the field of naval history through a combination of scholarship and community building. On years when the McMullen Naval History Symposium is conducted at the U.S. Naval Academy, the NHF has an agreement with the History Department to present the award at that venue.  Last year, the inaugural presentations were made to Drs. William Still, James Bradford, and Phil Lundeberg. In other years, the NHF will seek other venues to present the award.  This year, that venue will be the 10th Maritime Heritage Conference in Norfolk, VA from 17-21 September 2014

Since there will be expenses involved with the administration of this prize, the NHF seeks contributions to endow the award. If you are interested in supporting this effort, please contact the NHF Programs Director Dr. Dave Winkler at dwinkler@navyhistory.org.

If you have a candidate you would like consideration for the 2013 inaugural prize, please visit the Knox Award page of the website and submit a nomination on-line. Elements of the submission will include the nominee’s name, his/her institutional affiliations, and an essay describing the nominee’s contributions to U.S. naval history. The nominating essay should include a description of nominee’s career in government, academia, and/or the private sector.  A discussion of nominee’s educational milestones and subsequent career and influence on naval historiography and others in the field should be highlighted. Coverage should include an assessment of the nominee’s service to the Navy, the historical profession, and the public at large.

The deadline for submissions for 2014 will be 30 April.

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