5. Teaching Jutland in the Classroom
Dara A. Baker
Head Archivist, Naval Historical Collection
U.S. Naval War College
Each year from 1919 through 1941, the Naval War College's faculty and staff sat down to decide how to run the year's course. The 1930 Department of Operations and Department of Intelligence curricula on the previous page illustrate the level of detail: how each week would be spent, what books the students were assigned, and what lecture topics faculty would prepare.
As you read through the lectures and course material included in this part of the online exhibition, consider what a classroom would have been like in 1916, 1925, or 1940. No computers or social media to distract the students, no calculators, no PowerPoint, and no videoconferencing, though the Naval War College did have distance education―established in 1911, the Correspondence Course started at NWC was one of the first in the nation.
In the classroom, "slides," overheads or images created just for that class, accompanied each lecture illustrating ship movements or battle conditions. Unfortunately, few slide sets survived for inclusion in the archives. All of the materials included in this exhibit were actively used in the classroom to help students write papers, game the battles, and prepare for their commands upon graduation.
While the technology might have been literally "old school," the lessons taught focused on the newest technology and methods: aviation, submarine warfare, radar, then sonar, and particularly with war games, the best and most up-to-date tools for mathematical calculations and tactical assessments. Every year, the fire effects tables and ship information were updated by staff and game results from BLUE-ORANGE or BLUE-RED followed the new technology. Students gamed the idea of war with aircraft carriers and war with future appropriated ships based on what they learned from active duty officers who visited the College and those who became faculty or staff.
Naval War College students heard lectures from their faculty and staff, and from numerous visiting military personnel and scholars on topics ranging from aircraft tactics to military leadership and coastal defense. The first lectures on Jutland arose from the revised curriculum introduced by Rear Admiral Sims and connected the students with the historical impact and technological changes wrought by World War I.
The lectures included here are a small sample of material held in the Naval Historical Collection. Of particular interest in relation to Jutland are H.K. Hewitt's lecture on naval gunnery, Leigh Noyes' discussion of naval communications and radio, and Joseph Reeves' 1925 "Jutland." Reeves' lecture focused on the "Nine Immutable Principles of War," and this lecture, from the Naval Historical Collection, does include the original plates derived from H.H. Frost's Jutland research.
Broader themes of naval strategy and global war appear in many faculty and guest lectures. Future Naval War College President Harris Laning's 1922 lecture on the relationship between the Naval War College and the Fleet and American diplomat, Pierre De La Garde Boal's presentation on the League of Nations, are particularly insightful.
Student Course Material
The documents included below are a small sample of the material provided to Naval War College students between 1923 and 1941 to assist with their assignment to study, game, and analyze the Battle of Jutland. Written, collected, and sometimes translated by NWC faculty, staff, and former students, the documents address both procedural elements, such as how to write a paper, and factual components, including assigned readings and primary sources.
From the Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
- Record Group 14 (Faculty and Staff Lectures)
- Record Group 15 (Guest Lectures)
- Record Group 4 (College Course Publications)
- Record Group 8 (Technical and Intelligence Archives)
- Record Group 12 (Student Problems)