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Miles P. DuVal, Jr. Papers

Identifier: GTM-761124

Scope and Contents Note

The Miles P. DuVal, Jr. Papers comprise the personal papers of Miles P. DuVal (1896-1989), an American naval officer who was an expert on the Panama Canal. The bulk of the collection consists of files maintained by DuVal about the Panama Canal, including correspondence, subject files, and manuscripts. Many of the manuscripts were written by DuVal while some were written by other individuals. Some attention is given to DuVal's navy career. DuVal's journals are also present. The collection includes a number of printed items by both DuVal and others on topics related to the Panama Canal. There is a limited amount of objects and audio cassettes. There are numerous photographs of DuVal, Panama Canal construction, ships passing through the Panama Canal, and plans for maintenance and improvement of the Panama Canal. Taken together, the Miles P. DuVal Papers document various aspects of the history of the Panama Canal.


  • 1851 - 1989
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1989

Conditions Governing Access note

Boxes 131 and 132 contain Restricted Materials.

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off-site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical Note

Miles P. DuVal, Jr. (1896-1989) was an American naval officer and expert on the Panama Canal. Born on April 19, 1896, in Portsmouth, Virginia, DuVal was the son of Miles P. and Minnie Lee (Chalkley) DuVal.The younger DuVal earned a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1918. From 1925 to 1926, he was enrolled in the U.S. Naval War College. In 1937, DuVal received a Masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

DuVal had a distinguished naval career. He commanded the U.S.S. DuPont from 1933 to 1935, took part in naval operations at Cuba from 1933 to 1934, and commanded the U.S.S. Antares from 1939 to 1940. During World War II, DuVal gained expertise in the Panama Canal as he was captain of the port of Balboa in the Canal Zone from 1942 to 1943. He undertook the augmentation of Balboa Harbor. He also advocated a terminal lake plan for the Canal.

After his assignment in Panama, DuVal commanded the U.S.S. Dade from 1944 to 1946. He saw wartime action in the Okinawa campaign. Then, he returned to Panama as Navy Department liaison for Panama Canal improvements. He retired from the Navy in 1949.

After his naval service, DuVal wrote and lectured extensively on the Panama Canal. He was on the board of directors for the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Medicine and a member of the Panama Historical Society, the Panama Canal Natural History Society, and the Explorers Club.

DuVal published landmark histories on the Panama Canal. He authored "Cadiz to Cathay" in 1940 along with "And the Mountains Will Move" in 1947. He also wrote, "Let the Waters Rise," in which he presented his Terminal Lake-Third Locks Plan. DuVal also published works on George Rogers Clark, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Sam Houston, John Frank Stevens, and William Crawford Gorgas.

DuVal lived at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. He died in 1989.


- "Who's Who in America." 41st edition. 1980-1981. Volume 1. Chicago: Marquis.

- "National Cyclopedia of American Biography." Volume M. Clifton, NJ: James T. White and Company, 1978.


69.25 Linear Feet (130 boxes)

Language of Materials


Miles P. DuVal, Jr. Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057