Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., Papers, 1929-1974

Manuscript Collection #435

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., Papers
    Creator: Leggett, Wilson Durward, Jr.
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers (1929-1974) of Rear Admiral Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., U.S. Naval Academy graduate of 1920 and Tarboro, North Carolina, native, including correspondence, photographs and photograph album, newspaper clippings, an order book, newsletters, journals, scrapbook, etc., documenting his Naval career and work with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.
    Extent: 4.43 Cubic feet, 9 archival boxes, consisting of correspondence, photographs, photograph album, newspaper clippings, an order book, newsletters, scrapbook, speeches, journals, flags, and miscellany.
  • Description

    The majority of the correspondence (1938-1940, 1947, 1954), which consists of incoming letters and carbon copies of Leggett's replies, is of a personal nature. Letters from Leggett's friends and officers and sailors who previously served with him request his assistance in a variety of matters, including securing assignments or transfers to particular duty stations. A few of the letters comment on use of diesel engines or discuss machinery parts for naval vessels, including submarines, either under construction or deployed. Leggett's lengthy memorandum of June 27, 1940, to the head of shipbuilding discusses competitive bids for main propelling machinery for submarines and for the USS AUK (AM57).

    Photographs (1938-1954) were collected by Leggett during the latter part of his career. Many of them depict Leggett, individually or in groups, at a variety of ceremonies, presentations, and inspections. Others show groups of unidentified sailors. Ten photographs taken at the United States Naval Training Station at Norfolk, Virginia, illustrate classroom instruction for sailors in a variety of subjects (1938). Some of the photographs were taken in the Philippine Islands. Aerial views (1945) depict a military installation at Subic Bay, and aerial and ground shots (undated) show widespread destruction of buildings at Manila. Also included are views of the Severn River Naval Command's launching of USS PT81, the Navy's first all-welded aluminum vessel (1950). Additional photographs depict aspects of the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego (1949).

    Newspaper articles (1948-1956, undated) primarily pertain to aspects of Leggett's career. Some of them discuss the Navy's controversial system of promoting captains to the rank of rear admiral and the case of Captain Hyman George Rickover in this regard. A newspaper tabloid (1954) discusses the launching of the USS NAUTILUS, the Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine. Additional articles (1954) discuss the history and centennial celebration of Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

    Leggett's "Engineer Officers Night Order Book" (Jan. 14-25, 1929), kept aboard a vessel en route from San Diego to Balboa rendezvous point and Panama rendezvous point, lists operation procedures or orders to be followed by officers remaining in charge each night during the voyage. The volume also includes lists of comments concerning advantages and disadvantages of the electric drive submarine USS S-45, different companies' engines for it, and machinery needed for it.

    Included in a file of printed material (1948-1955) are magazine articles, newsletters, and pamphlets discussing diesel engines, shipboard lubrication problems during World War II, the U.S. Naval Experiment Station at Annapolis and Leggett's role there, the Bureau of Ships, new developments in shipbuilding, and Leggett's career.

    A file of miscellany contains a photograph and other material pertaining to the thirtieth reunion of the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 1921 and a typescript, "The Diesel Engine- Its Past and Future."

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Rear Admiral Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., a native of Tarboro, N.C., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1920 and obtained a master's degree in engineering from Columbia University. In 1931, after serving on battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, Captain Leggett began duties at the Navy's Bureau of Engineering (later Bureau of Ships), where he was responsible for instituting a program of diesel engine development. The program provided the Navy with diesel propulsion that was successfully utilized during World War II.

    Leggett also served the Navy in other capacities. During World War II he held the positions of repair superintendent at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and Seventh Fleet maintenance officer. In 1947 he assumed command of the Navy's Engineering Equipment Station, where he was responsible for six research laboratories and projects pertaining to mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering; internal combustion engines; acoustics and vibration; and metallurgy and welding. He was appointed deputy chief of the Bureau of Ships in 1951 and served as chief of that bureau from 1953 to 1955.

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    October 26, 1981, 195 items; Papers (1929-1957) of U.S. Navy officer, including correspondence (1938-1940), photographs, clippings, newsletters, articles, an order book, and miscellaneous items. Gift of Mrs. W. Durward Leggett, Washington, D.C.

    July 27, 2017, (unprocessed addition 1), 4 cubic feet; This addition of Rear Admiral Leggett’s papers includes correspondence (1932-1955), daily planners and journals (1953-1974), speeches (1946-1957), photographs, documents (correspondence, notes, blueprints, booklets) related to engineering projects, and papers related to the Society of American Value Engineers, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science Development Council, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and the House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. Also included are clippings, a photograph album, scrapbook, family history related items, and Admiral’s Flags. Gift of Wilson "Bill" Durward Leggett III.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mrs. W. Durward Leggett, Jr.
    Gift of Wilson "Bill" Durward Leggett III

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., Papers (#435), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processed by S. Morgan, May 1983

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

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