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Scott Umsted papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-055

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of ten boxes that are divided into eleven series, representing both the papers of the admiral and his mother, Katherine Scott Umsted, a writer of fiction, poetry, and travel accounts. Series I, Correspondence, is divided into two subseries: official correspondence, letters both sent and received, 1917–1951, regarding Umsted’s naval career; and personal correspondence, letters both and sent and received, 1908–1971. The latter contains correspondence mainly with his mother regarding his experiences as a naval officer on the Yangtze Patrol in China, 1923–1924; hydrographic research in the USS Niagara, 1927–1930; his command of the USS Tillman, 1932–1933; and duty in USS Raleigh, 1933–1935, where he served as temporary beachmaster, the Canal Zone.

Series II, Writings, contain his Naval War College thesis entitled “Tactics and Command,” 1926, and unattributed writings on submarines as a means of polar explorations, the German Submarine in the Battle of Jutland, The U.S. Navy Charts the Gulf of Panama, and The Chungking, Wanhsein Interlude by Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley.

Series III, Reports, has the survey of Port La Unión, El Salvador, Central America, and Approaches of 1928.

Series IV, Miscellany, houses menus, programs, booklets on historic military topics, newspaper clippings, published journals, museum catalogues, pamphlets, receipts, invitations, Umsted’s Naval Academy grades, a watercolor painting of Seville, Spain, photographs, a map of the Philippine Islands, a chart of Port La Unión, El Salvador, Christmas cards sent and received, a diary, a court case regarding Mrs. Umsted’s permission to carry a concealed weapon (1933), postcards, U.S. Naval Academy bulletins, programs, and instructions for graduation in 1915.

Series V, Photographs, consists of family photographs, photographs of U.S. Navy ships, including the USS Niagara, aerial views of Panama’s coastline, U.S. naval officers, the 1913 University of Pennsylvania-U.S. Naval Academy football game, the West Indies, Scotland, China, Seville, Spain, Charles Lindbergh and his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, unidentified people, places, street scenes, and several negatives.

The following series contain the papers of Katherine Scott Umsted ( ?–1934). Series VI houses her unpublished writings that include stories, plays, travel writings, and poems. Series VII contains her published travel writings in The Cunarder and The Nomad. Series VIII, Miscellany, contains pamphlets, reports of clubs and associations of which she was a member, travel brochures and literary items, including bulletins, calendars, certificates of copyright registration, and announcements. Series IX, Photographs, has unidentified people, places, and scenes of Jaen, Spain. Series X, Newspaper Clippings, has notices of social and literary events and her February 1934 obituary from The New York Times. Series XI, Personal and Travel Diaries, contains accounts of her travels in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, China, the Philippines, and the United States, as well as a personal daily diary.


  • 1867 - 1973


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

Rear Admiral Scott Umsted was born on April 27, 1892 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was appointed to the academy from Pennsylvania and graduated in 1915 with the rank of ensign.

Umsted attended submarine school in New London, Connecticut in 1917 and saw action during World War I in European waters. As an officer of USS AL-2 he encountered an enemy submarine on July 10, 1918 and successfully maneuvered the ship out of danger. He received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for his action. He served in a number of submarines during the nineteen twenties and was commanding officer of USS N-2, USS R-10 and USS S-17. He returned to New London as head of the submarine school in 1935. In 1940, he was Commanding Officer, Submarine Division Twelve. From 1927–1930, he conducted hydrographic research in USS Niagara ( SP 136), took command of USS Tillman (DD 135) in 1932 and served in USS Raleigh (CL-7), where he had temporary duty as beachmaster, the Canal Zone.

Umsted had a long association with the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated from the Junior Course in 1926 and from the Senior Course in 1937. He was on the staff of the Correspondence Course in 1941 and was a member of the Strategy Department from 1943–1947. He also attended the Army War College in 1937–1938 and was on the staff of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1930–1932.

During World War II, he was commanding officer of USS New York (BB 34) and took part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, where the ship provided gun support at Safi and stood by at Casablanca and Fedhala. She returned to the United States where she took part in convoy operations to North Africa, bringing vital supplies to the U.S. forces there.

Umsted retired from the Navy on January 1, 1947 with the rank of captain and was advanced to the rank of rear admiral. He resided in Jamestown, Rhode Island, and taught at the University of Rhode Island for fifteen years and was also on the faculty of Vernon Court Junior College in Newport. Umsted died on July 18, 1979 in Providence, Rhode Island. His survivors include his wife, Margaret Beale Hemphill, and his son, Scott. He was predeceased by his son, Lieutenant Truxtun Umsted, USN.

During the course of his career, Umsted received the following medals: the World War I Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Chronology of Naval Service

Born, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, April 27
Graduated, U. S. Naval Academy, Ensign
USS Utah (BB 31)
USS Fulton (AS 1)
U.S. Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut
USS N-2, Commanding Officer
USS Frederick (ACR 8)
USS R–10, Commanding Officer
USS S–17
USS Ajax ( AC 14)
USS Polos
USS Rainbow (AS 7)
Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, Student, Junior Course
Office of Naval Communications, Washington, D.C.
USS Niagara (SP 136)
U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, Staff
USS Tillman (DD 135), Commanding Officer
USS Raleigh (CL 7)
U.S. Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut
Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, Student, Senior Course
Army War College, Fort Humphreys, Washington, D.C.
Submarine Division Twelve, Commander
Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, Staff, Correspondence Course
Promoted to Captain, July 1
USS New York (BB 34), Commanding Officer
Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, Staff, Strategy Department
U.S. Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island
Retired List, U.S. Navy, with rank of Rear Admiral, January 1
Died, July 18, Providence, Rhode Island


15 boxes

Language of Materials



Official correspondence regarding naval career, 1920–1951; Personal correspondence, 1908–1971; Family correspondence, chiefly to his mother, 1914–1934; Miscellany, including photographs, diary, menus, booklets, newspaper clippings; Correspondence and travel writings of his mother Mrs. Katherine Scott Umsted, 1904–1934.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Rear Admiral Scott Umsted of Jamestown, Rhode Island presented his papers as a gift to the Naval War College Foundation for deposit in the Naval Historical Collection in April 1978.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval Historical Collection Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US