Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #435
Leggett, Wilson Durward, Jr.
Physical description
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.
Preferred Citation
Wilson Durward Leggett, Jr., Papers (#435), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

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.

Biographical/historical information

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.

Scope and arrangement

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."

Administrative information
Custodial History

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.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. W. Durward Leggett, Jr.

Gift of Wilson "Bill" Durward Leggett III

Processing information

Processed by S. Morgan, May 1983

Container List for Boxes 2-9 by Robert Hines, May 23, 2017

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

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

Key terms
Personal Names
Leggett, Wilson Durward, Jr.
Corporate Names
Mare Island Naval Shipyard--History
United States. Dept. of the Navy. Bureau of Ships
United States. Navy--Officers
United States. Navy--Officers--Correspondence
World War, 1939-1945--Philippines

Container list
Box 1 Folder b A series of black and white photographs of various naval activities including class room service schools in Norfolk, VA, with torpedoes and other training activities (1938), two portraits of Leggett (undated), an aerial photo of Utility Squadron 9 (June 30, 1945), and NOB Subic Bay (September 4, 1945), two photos of the Chemical Engineering Laboratory (October 13, 1949), several photographs of the Motor Torpedo Boat Launching (November 30, 1950), and a photo of Leggett with coworkers and friends (November 13, 1954)
Box 1 Folder c Clippings include multiple photos of Leggett (December 22, 1947, November 15, 1950), a clipping on Leggett's daughter's marriage (October 2), a full copy of the Daily Southerner newspaper with an article titled, "Leggett Gets Deputy Chiefs Post" (October 6, 1951), and a full copy of The Dolphin magazine, on the launching of Nautilus (January 27, 1954)
Box 1 Folder d Order Book, 1929, documents activities carried out by Leggett on board a submarine, experiments carried out by the U.S. Navy, and the pros and cons of different engines used by the Navy (1929)
Box 1 Folder e Printed Material, 1948-1955, includes several magazines, newspapers, and booklets written by or featuring Leggett. Contains a booklet, Diesel Economics by Charles C.S Seabring (December 1948), an article titled, Some Case Histories of Shipboard Lubricating Problems During World War II by Leggett (November 10, 1949), the magazine, The Slate, a weekly survey of North Carolina (March 1, 1952), two copies of the Bureau of Ships Journal with introductions by Leggett (March 20, 1953, April 3, 1954), and a couple copies of the U.S. Naval Engineering Experimental Station News (November 10, 1950, October 10, 1952)
Box 1 Folder f Miscellaneous items include a program from the 30th reunion of the 1921 Naval Academy Class, including a list of attendees (1951); an essay titled, The Diesel Engine-Its Past and Future (undated); a pamphlet on the U.S. Naval Engineering Experiment Station with an aerial photograph of the building, a map, and details on laboratories and projects (undated); an invitation from the Pentagon for a film viewing of, The Big Picture-GYA (October 25, 1954); and a copy of the ships song "When I Was a Lad" from the HMS Pinafore (undated)
Box 2 Folder a Speeches by W.D Leggett, Jr. and others. Includes DoD speaking guide and speech notes, 1952-1953
Box 2 Folder b Speeches by W.D Leggett, Jr. and others. Includes rough drafts and speaking notes, along with an army writing guide, 1950-1952
Box 2 Folder c Speeches and Drafts. Includes notes and advice, 1948-1950
Box 2 Folder d Correspondence to and from W.D. Leggett, Jr, 1951-1955
Box 2 Folder e Correspondence to and from W.D. Leggett, Jr, 1951-1955
Box 2 Folder f Diagrams, notes, and correspondence regarding projects concerning Naval craft, 1955-1956
Box 2 Folder g Photographs of W.D. Leggett, Jr. Undated
Box 2 Folder h USS Forrestal christening booklet. Coin to commemorate the Army Package Power Reactor Dedication. Wallet with personal photographs. 1954, 1957, undated
Box 3 Folder a Papers regarding the Society of American Value Engineers. Contains ledger, correspondence, directories, and agendas, 1960-1962
Box 3 Folder b Papers regarding the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute-School of Science Development Council. Contains correspondence, agendas, reports, and meeting minutes, 1962-1964
Box 3 Folder c Correspondence to and from W.D. Leggett, Jr, 1951-1955
Box 3 Folder d Contains correspondence, speech notes, and discussions on the use of diesel engines in the Navy, 1932-1933
Box 4 Journals belonging to W.D. Leggett, Jr, 1966-1974
Box 5 Folder a Correspondence asking W.D. Leggett, Jr. for job recommendations, 1954-1955
Box 5 Folder b Itineraries and travel expenses. 1950, undated
Box 5 Folder c The Sulzer High-Pressure Gas Turbine, information booklet. Undated
Box 5 Folder d Photographs of W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1954, undated
Box 5 Folder e Discussions, blueprints, and booklets concerning engine development projects. Some items are in German, 1948-1950
Box 5 Folder f Newspaper clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous papers, 1948-1954
Box 5 Folder g Personal correspondence, 1953-1955
Box 5 Folder h Compiled speeches by W.D. Leggett, Jr. Volume 1, 1953-1954
Box 5 Folder i Compiled speeches by W.D. Leggett, Jr. Volume 2, 1954-1955
Box 6 Folder a Speeches by W.D. Leggett, Jr. Includes rough drafts, notes and correspondence, 1954-1957
Box 6 Folder b Speeches given to engineering conferences by W.D. Leggett, Jr. Includes some notes and drafts. 1954
Box 6 Folder c Photographs, 1955, 1956
Box 6 Folder d Congratulatory correspondence to W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1953
Box 6 Folder e Congratulatory correspondence to W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1953
Box 6 Folder f Congratulatory correspondence to W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1953
Box 7 Folder a W.D. Leggett, Jr. speeches. Includes drafts and notes. 1947-1948, undate
Box 7 Folder b House of Representatives: Stenographic Transcripts of Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services. 1954
Box 7 Folder c "The Diplomat." 1954
Box 7 Folder d Magazine and newspaper clippings, 1954-1955
Box 7 Folder e Personal correspondence. 1955, undated
Box 7 Folder f Certificate for correspondence course in Strategy and Tactics at the U.S. Naval War College. 1935
Box 7 Folder g Admiral Leggett's Personal File; Admiral's flag. 1954
Box 7 Folder h Personal correspondence from W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1955
Box 7 Folder i Family's Crest and brief history. Undated
Box 7 Folder j Photographs of the 4 pages of the poem "The Laws of the Navy" by Ronald A. Hopwood interspersed with naval drawings. Undated
Box 7 Folder k "Bureau of Ships Journal" issues for May 1952 an, April 1955
Box 7 Folder l Joint Committee on Atomic Energy; correspondence, testimony, Congressional hearings, 1957-1962
Box 7 Folder m Additional speeches and lectures by W.D. Leggett, Jr. 1946, undated
Box 7 Folder n Leggett family personal correspondence, 1941-1944
Box 7 Folder o Photographs, undated
Box 7 Folder p Magazine articles and correspondence. 1954, 1956, undated
Box 8 W.D. Leggett, Jr. daily planners and journals. 1953-1955, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1962-1964
Box 9 Photograph album, scrapbook, and Admiral flag