Seabees of the Navy, 1942 - 1997: A Bibliography


By Steven C. Karoly

I have attempted to located every reference to the Seabees since their formation in early 1942. My goal is to make this the most complete bibliographic source to the Seabees. While several bibliographers (notably Smith's World War II at Sea) have listed Seabee works in the past, this is the first composition of its kind devoted entirety to the Seabees.

Citations in this bibliography come from three sources: books and periodical articles provide the majority of bibliographic references cited. A third category comprised of Seabee periodicals is also included.

To stay focused, I used several criteria to determine which books and articles to include in the bibliography. A book written entirely about the Seabees is readily incorporated. Works on military engineering are listed, chiefly those where the Seabees are treated equally with the engineering branches of the services. For example, Bowman, et al, in Bulldozers Came First, detail the activities of the Army Corps of Engineers alongside the Seabees.

Other books are added where the Seabees are not the primary focus of the author, but the subject impacts what the Seabees do. The story of civilian contractors building the Pacific Naval Air Bases prior to World War II is worthy of inclusion in this sense. The Seabees assumed their role when the war started.

Official Seabee histories are considered. This category also includes recruiting and public relations materials. The primary test used is authorship by the Bureau of Yards and Docks, or its successor, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

The wealth of this bibliography lies in over 200 articles written since 1942. Seabee authors have long understood the value of writing as a tool to win the public relations battle. At times, Seabees excel at authorship just as they do in building. The quality found in many of their cruise books attests to this.

Journal and periodical articles provide an abundance of historical data on the Seabees. Many officers (including Admiral Moreell) were members of professional organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers. During World War II and beyond, these Seabee members wrote scores of articles for its journal, Civil Engineering. At least 20 other professional journals tell the Seabee story. This fraternity of authors includes one Seabee-turned war correspondent, William Bradford Huie, editor of the American Mercury before the big war, who produced three books and several articles during World War II.

News correspondents like Bowman and Bowers contributed much to the Seabee story. They wrote for the engineering journal, Engineering News-Record. And, of course, popular periodicals like Time and Life keep the Seabee adventure before the public. Even House and Garden, Scientific American and Sunset honored their pages with the Seabee story.

The same general criterion applies to articles as books. An article must be written about the Seabees in its entirety, treat the Seabees equally with the other engineering branches or introduce a topic that impacts what the Seabees' mission. Articles are found in four broad classes of periodicals. They are engineering and construction industry journals; U. S. Navy periodicals and naval journals published by private associations; and popular magazines. I have limited article citations to periodicals that are generally available to the public through subscription or found in larger city and university libraries. This also applies to Navy periodicals.

Navy periodicals devoted to the Seabees and Navy Civil Engineer Corps (such as the Navy Civil Engineer) are not included because every article is geared to the Seabees. They are news bulletins designed for officers of the Navy's civil engineering community (including the Seabees). Newspaper articles are also not included.

I have not included cruise books at this time. (Although several bibliographic references to these books are noted in the reference section.) Seabee unit histories were well documented by Dr. Mawdsley, author of Cruise Books of the U. S. Navy in World War II: A Bibliography, cataloging almost 800 Navy cruise books from World War II. The task of cataloging the vast collection of post-World War II Seabee souvenir books is beyond the scope of the bibliography. For any bibliographer who wishes to accept this challenge, the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps/Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, CA contains a large collection of these books.

Nor do I attempt to name every battalion newsletter published. Many are very informal and issued infrequently, and copies are difficult to find. All known Seabee newspapers from Seabee bases and headquarters commands are listed. These received wide distribution. Newspapers that strictly deal with BuDocks or NavFac Field Office, Public Works Department or Resident Officer in Charge of Construction Office activities are excluded. These bulletins are usually geared towards the non-Seabee side of naval construction.

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