Guide to the Fred J. Buenzle papers M1983

Finding aid prepared by Franz Kunst
Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives
Stanford University Libraries.
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, California, 94305

Title: Fred J. Buenzle papers
Identifier/Call Number: M1983
Contributing Institution: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 6.0 Linear feet (5 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1870s-1986
Physical Location: Special Collections and University Archives materials are stored offsite and must be paged 36-48 hours in advance. For more information on paging collections, see the department's website:
Abstract: Manuscripts, scrapbooks, correspondence and photographs from Fred J. Buenzle (1872-1946), Chief Yeoman of the United States Navy.
creator: Buenzle, Fred J.

Access to Collection

The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94304-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Scope and Contents

Frederick John Buenzle (1872-1946) enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of sixteen, and chronicled the transition of the Navy's fleet from the sailing ships of the 19th century to steam-powered steel boats and the accompanying changes in sailors' duties and culture. Training aboard the U.S.S. Portsmouth, Buenzle traveled around the Caribbean before assuming the job of stenographer, eventually working his way up to Chief Yeoman. Buenzle took shorthand for Rear Admiral William Sampson, acting Secretary of the Navy William McAdoo and even on occasion Theodore Roosevelt. He also ran the Yeoman School in Newport, Rhode Island for a time.
Buenzle was founder and editor of the first magazine for enlisted sailors, "The Bluejacket," also the name of his 1939 memoir. While there are no copies of the newsletter in the collection, other shipboard newsletters are present. Buenzle also successfully filed a lawsuit fighting discrimination against uniformed servicemen.
Buenzle was stenographer for the Court of Inquiry concerning the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in 1898 (for which Sampson was Chief), and subsequently participated in the Spanish-American War aboard the U.S.S. New York. There are numerous photographs and documents concerning Cuba and the war.
After retiring in 1912 due to hearing loss, Buenzle moved around the country trying his hand at various occupations before settling in Los Gatos at his ranch, known as "Snug Harbor," where he farmed, built model ships and continued to write until his death in 1946.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased by Stanford University, Special Collections in July 2013.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], Fred J. Buenzle papers (M1983). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

United States. Navy.
Military history
Naval history
Spanish-American War, 1898.

Box 1, Folder 1

Newport Navalog biographical profile 1967-07

Box 1, Folder 2

"Apprenticeship Memories Revived -or- 4 Years in the U.S.N." bound manuscript 1889-1890

Scope and Contents

An account of Buenzle's training aboard the Portsmouth in the Caribbean. Includes souvenir postcards of Jamaica, two large albumen prints of St. Thomas, and newspaper clippings from the Newport Sentinel of letters Buenzle wrote to the paper.
Box 1, Folder 3

"That Mutiny of Ours" bound typescript c.1940s

Scope and Contents

A narrative of the 1842 alleged mutiny aboard the U.S.S. Somers in which three sailors were hanged without a legal trial.
Box 1, Folder 4

"One Hundred Years Ago" typescript re: U.S.S. Somers incident 1942-09-10

Box 1, Folder 5

Bluejacket: An Autobiography 1986

Scope and Contents

Reprint by the Naval Institute Press in their Classics of Naval Literature series. Originally published by W.W. Norton in 1939.
Box 1, Folder 6

"Old Navy Men" typescript c. 1940s

Box 1, Folder 7

reprints, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 1940, 1942

Box 1, Folder 8

"Here Comes A Sailor" Chapter XIII excerpt about his brief interaction with future King George V of England

Box 1, Folder 9

"Naval Casualties in Peacetime" typescript [published copy in scrapbook]

Box 1, Folder 10

"Three Days in the Rice Fields of China" manuscript

Scope and Contents

After five years of service, in 1893 Buenzle left the Navy and lived in Shanghai. He became an officer in the Chinese military during the Sino-Japanese War, and "Three Days..." is a brief account of this experience.
Box 1, Folder 11

untitled speech transcript, U.S. Veterans' Home, Napa, with clipping about event 1939

Box 2, Folder 1

small notebook with addresses and accounts ; small unidentified Chinese book with illustrations

Box 2, Folder 2

correspondence to King George V with form reply from King's Personal Secretary 1935-09

Box 2, Folder 3

correspondence re: Somers incident manuscript 1944-1946

Box 2, Folder 4

scrapbook of approximately 80 silver gelatin prints including images of Naval training in Guantanamo Bay and other images in and around Havana, Cuba 1898

Existence and Location of Copies note

This scrapbook has been digitized by Stanford and is available for research.

85 digital images from scrapbook, 1898

Box 2, Folder 5

correspondence re: Spanish-American War with souvenir pieces of flag removed from Spanish vessel 1940-02-20

Box 2, Folder 6

bulletins, correspondence, memoranda and notes re: U.S.S. New York and Spanish-American War 1898

Scope and Contents

Field notes, "order of battle" memoranda, William T. Sampson communication, and other documents.
Box 2, Folder 7

miscellaneous Navy correspondence, notes and other documents, including Buenzle's enlistment record 1894-1912

Box 2, Folder 8

The Pelican, U.S.S. Louisiana newsletter 1906-07

Box 2, Folder 9

Williwa, U.S.S. Pybus newsletters [8] 1943

Box 2, Folder 10

notes re: U.S.S. Portsmouth

Box 2, Folder 11

handwritten excerpt of review of Bluejacket 1944-06-30

Box 2, Folder 12

unidentified Chinese manuscript- 3 leaves c.1890s

Language of Material: Chinese
Box 2, Folder 13, Box 2, Folder 14


Box 4, Folders 1-6, Box 5, Box 3, Folders 1-7

scrapbook of several hundred annotated silver prints c.1880-1939

Scope and Contents

Large scrapbook with decorated wooden cover, featuring the Buenzle family and residences in Newport, Rhode Island, Los Gatos, California, and elsewhere, as well as newspaper clippings of articles by or about Buenzle (many with no source or date). Boxes 3 and 4 contain loose pages, and Box 5 contains the enclosure.