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About this collection

The Richard Mueller Nixon Letters, comprising 10 linear inches of documentation, span from 1923 to 1930, with the overwhelming majority written between 1926 and 1930, while Nixon was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. Nixon's letters touch upon various aspects of student life at the Naval Academy, including academics, athletics, summer cruises, conduct and discipline, and the activities of Nixon's classmates.

Included with the letters are several monthly report cards, postcards, greeting cards, an invitation, and a mental examination permit. 

The Richard Mueller Nixon Letters are arranged into a single records series with no subdivisions. Aside from those letters in the last file of the collection, all of the letters are written by Nixon to his parents, Milton and Stella, and sister, Emily. The majority of the letters make reference to Nixon's performance in monthly exams and his studies, particularly those in Steam, Ordnance, Spanish (referred to throughout as Dago), Electrical Engineering (referred to throughout as Juice) and Physics and Chemistry (referred to throughout as Skinny). Letters written in the fall also tend to focus heavily on the Naval Academy football team and on college football in general. Letters written in the spring often make reference to Nixon's involvement with the track team, especially his efforts at pole vaulting. Nixon's summer letters are the product of his summer practice cruise experiences aboard the battleships U.S.S. Nevada, U.S.S. Florida, and U.S.S. Utah, and include descriptions of shipboard routine, as well as operations near and port calls in Panama, Guantanamo Bay, Barcelona, Rome, Naples, London, Weymouth, and the west coast of the United States. Other topics discussed by Nixon include personal finances, the Nixons' farm in Ohio, health and dental issues, aviation training, guest lecturers at the Academy, and the activities of classmates, including Alfred Lampe and a midshipman referred to simply as Johnny. Filed at the end of the collection are letters from 1925 and 1926 pertaining to Nixon's appointment to the Naval Academy.

Biographical Sketch

Richard Mueller Nixon was born in Waterford, Ohio on January 26, 1910 to Milton Gregg Nixon, a farmer, and Stella Mueller Nixon. Appointed to the United States Naval Academy by Ohio Representative C. Ellis Moore in 1926, Nixon graduated as a member of the Class of 1930.

Upon graduation in June 1930, Nixon was initially assigned to U.S.S. West Virginia (Battleship: BB-48). After serving as a Civilian Conservation Corps administrator at Tahachapi, he was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet, where he served aboard the destroyers U.S.S. Tracy (DD-214) and U.S.S. Truxtun (DD-229). Towards the end of the decade, Nixon returned to the classroom, studying Ordnance Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Following the completion of his studies at the Postgraduate School, Nixon was reassigned to U.S.S. West Virginia in June 1939. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Nixon was on shore duty when the West Virginia was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Subsequently, Nixon was attached to Maryland(Battleship: BB-46) and Tennessee (Battleship: BB-43) of the Pacific Fleet.

During the Korean War, Nixon took command of the ammunition ship U.S.S. Mount Baker (AE-4) upon her recommissioning on December 5, 1951. He would later command the repair ship U.S.S. Vulcan (AR-5). After the war, Nixon assumed command of the Naval Advanced Base in Bremerhaven, West Germany. Upon that base's transfer to West German control in 1956, he took command of the Military Sea Transportation Service Office, also in Bremerhaven. 

In 1960, Nixon retired from active duty with the rank of Captain. Following his retirement from the Navy, he taught physics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York for twelve years. Richard Mueller Nixon died in San Diego, California on May 21, 1989.


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