Maritime History

Defense of the Raleigh

Defense of the Raleigh

Barry-Hayes papers, 1723-1875, bulk: 1778-1861 (Independence Seaport Museum):  John Barry (1745-1803), often credited as the Father of the American Navy, served the Continental Navy and the United States Navy for seventeen years. He and his descendants, particularly his nephew Patrick Hayes and grand-nephew Patrick Barry Hayes, became prominent members of Philadelphia society, serving as seamen, merchants, businessmen and politicians. The Barry-Hayes papers are the business, political and personal papers of John Barry and of his family, especially Patrick Hayes and Patrick Barry Hayes. The collection includes correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, logbooks, legal and financial papers related to Barry’s career in the Navy, the business ventures of the Hayes, Keen and Somers families, and their personal lives.
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Municipal Pier

Municipal Pier

General correspondence relating to Civil Works projects originating under the Wilmington and Philadelphia Engineers, 1871-1948, Bulk 1907-1943 (National Archives at Philadelphia):  The “General correspondence relating to Civil Works projects originating under the Wilmington and Philadelphia Engineers” collection houses correspondence, blueprints, maps, bids, photographs and reports dating from 1871 to 1948 [bulk 1907-1943]. This collection relates to civil engineering projects in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey area, such as: dredging of rivers, creeks, and harbors; flood control; removing wrecks; bridge building and maintenance; dam building and maintenance; and relocations of roads, cemeteries, and railroad lines.
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Official Opening of the New Municipal Pier

Official Opening of the New Municipal Pier

George Sproule papers, 1784-1947, Bulk 1884-1944 (Independence Seaport Museum):  George F. Sproule (1867-1928), known as an authority on the Port of Philadelphia, served on the Board of Port Wardens of Philadelphia from 1884 to 1907, as Secretary of the Board of Commissioners of Navigation for the Delaware River from 1907 to 1920, and as Director of Wharves, Docks and Ferries from 1920 to 1928. His son, Samuel Jackson Sproule served as Port Representative for the United States Shipping Administration, Recruitment and Manning Organization during World War II. This collection documents the professional life of George F. Sproule in the Philadelphia shipping and maritime industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the history of the Port of Philadelphia, and the World War II career of his son. The collection includes clippings, correspondence, appointment books, a scrapbook, business records, photographs, ephemera, and writings. The collection also includes a large number of maritime-related newspaper clipping volumes dating from 1891 to 1928.
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USS Kitty Hawk Press Information

USS Kitty Hawk Press Information

Independence Seaport collection on the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, 1919-1964 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The New York Shipbuilding Corporation (NYS) was founded in 1899 by Henry G. Morse (1850-1903), who served as the company’s first president. The company held significant government contracts during both World Wars, and built ships for the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Emergency Fleet Corporation as well as the Department of Commerce and Labor. During the 1930s, the company built luxury ocean liners, such as the Manhattan and the Washington for the United States Lines, and also built ships for Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Railroad, Standard Oil and American Export Lines. During its tenure, the New York Shipbuilding Corporation constructed over 500 ships. NYS completed its last ship in 1967 and went out of business shortly thereafter. The collection houses small caches of documentation relating to the history and operations of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation from 1919 to 1964. Of note, is an oversized scrapbook of newspaper clippings about the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and files containing information on specific ships. Ships covered are: The Nuclear Ship Savannah, USS Arkansas, USS Camden, USS Kitty Hawk, USS Truxtun and the USS Utah.
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John E. Hand and Sons Co.

John E. Hand and Sons Co.

John E. Hand  & Sons Co. records, 1865-2002, undated, bulk: 1900-1980 (Independence Seaport Museum): The John E. Hand & Sons Company was founded in Philadelphia in 1873. The Hand Company built navigational equipment for all varieties of floating vessels, and operated a chain of retail outlets with “service stations” in numerous port cities, including Baltimore and New Orleans, until 1956. Service stations sold Hand instruments as well as other nautical paraphernalia and provided compass adjusting services. The collection documents the business activities of the John E. Hand & Sons Company from its institution in 1873 to 1997, when the company was sold. The collection boasts a wide breadth of material that includes legal documents, financial records, patents, correspondence, contracts, reports, catalogs and other ephemera, photographs, and engineering plans. Together, the records provide a thorough account of the firm’s operations.
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Ship designs

Ship designs

John H. Mathis Company records, 1919-1965 (Independence Seaport Museum):  Founded in 1870 by John H. Mathis and W.W. Reynolds, by the time of its 1913 incorporation, the John H. Mathis Company was an already established and well-represented shipbuilding firm in the maritime world. Located at Point and Erie Streets in Camden, New Jersey, the Mathis Company built and repaired yachts, river steamers, tugs, barges, car floats, ships and other varieties of floating vessels for private individuals and businesses as well as the Navy and Coast Guard. During World Wars I and II a variety of ships were built, including minesweepers, transports, Coast Guard Cutters, and ferries. Of note, was the presidential yacht Sequoia, which was built by Mathis Yacht Building Company as a separate but allied venture at the Mathis shipyard in 1910. The Mathis Shipyard closed in 1961. The Mathis Shipyard was later used by the firm Camden Ship Repair. The John H. Mathis Company records, which date from 1919 to 1987, consists of business records, correspondence, photographs, measured drawings, design plans, and other records documenting the work of the shipbuilding firm. The majority of the material dates from 1930 to 1960. The collection is divided into four series: “Shipbuilding Records,” “Photographs,” “Index” and “Measured Drawings.”
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Invoice of Sundry Goods

Invoice of Sundry Goods

Ogden and Cuthbert family papers, 1750-1906, bulk: 1760-1830 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The Odgen and Cuthbert families joined when Anthony Cuthbert (1751-1832) married Mary Ogden (1770-1862) in 1799. Both families had strong connections to the rivers of Philadelphia. The Ogden and Cuthbert family papers consist largely of financial records (receipt, invoice and account books) of Joseph Ogden, his son George, and his son-in-law Anthony Cuthbert.
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Cruise Program

Cruise Program

Pollack collection of Ocean Liner ephemera, 1935-1967 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The Pollack collection of ocean liner ephemera (1935-1967) consists of menus, brochures, postcards, souvenir programs, deck plans, ship passenger lists, ocean liner newspapers, newspaper clippings, and luggage stamps from numerous ocean liners. The collection documents the many travels of Robert L. and Lydia A. Pollack on ocean liners including the French Lines, the Cunard Line, and the United States Lines.
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Atlantic and Carribean Steam Navigation Co.

Atlantic and Carribean Steam Navigation Co.

Red D Line records, 1861-1936 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The Red D Line was the main transportation link between the United States and Venezuela from 1820 to 1936. The line took its trade name from the red D on its white flag, which stood for the line’s founder, John Dallett, a Philadelphia merchant. Dallett travelled to Venezuela in 1823, where he went into business with the influential Venezuelan merchant, John Boulton. Dallett returned to Philadelphia and set up a business shipping cargoes to Boulton, and in 1838 began chartering sailing vessels to carry his merchandise. The Red D Line records house a sampling of business and financial records of the shipping line from 1861 to 1936. There are twelve volumes.
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Riggs and Brother

Riggs and Brother

Riggs and Brother Company records, 1887-1929 (Independence Seaport Museum):  Riggs and Brother, a Philadelphia chronometer and nautical instrument manufacture and import company, was founded in 1818 by William H. C. Riggs. The business records of the company include cash books, invoice books, day books, inventories and correspondence.
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RTC Shipbuilding Company

RTC Shipbuilding Company

RTC Shipbuilding Co. records, 1934-1965 (Independence Seaport Museum):  In 1940, Leroy M. Robinson (President), George R. Taylor (Vice-president), and John P. Carson (Secretary and Treasurer) formed RTC Shipbuilding Company in Camden, New Jersey. Their initials are the basis for the name of the company. All three men were former executives at J. H. Mathis Company. Subsequent to the death of Robinson and the retirement of Taylor in 1946, Carson became the firm’s president and assumed sole ownership. The RTC Shipbuilding Company records evidence the shipbuilding and repairs conducted by this company from 1934 to 1965. The collection also includes an impressive photographic documentation of the daily work performed on the RTC Shipyard. Heavily involved in ships designed for the Navy in World War II, as well as in building fishing vessels in subsequent years, one of the strengths of this collection lies in the hundreds of records found in the “Shipbuilding records” series. The “Photographs” series is also a strength of the collection, with many images of RTC ships under construction on the worksite and on the water. Additional series, “Business records,” and “Printed materials,” can also be found in this collection.
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Letter to Frank

Letter to Frank

Samuel Archer letters, 1826-1838 (Independence Seaport Museum):  Samuel Archer was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1771. In 1800, he opened a retail dry goods business in Philadelphia, eventually becoming one of the largest importers and shipping merchants in the city. This collection consists of eighteen letters written by Samuel Archer of Philadelphia to his nephew Franklin Jones, also of Philadelphia, between 1826 and 1838. The letters were written while Archer served as a supercargo on board ships sailing out of Philadelphia.
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Rowing on the Schuylkill

Rowing on the Schuylkill

Schuylkill Navy records, 1859-2009 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia was founded in 1858. It is the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the United States. By charter, “[the Schuylkill Navy’s] object is to secure united action among the several Clubs and to promote amateurism on the Schuylkill River.” The Schuylkill Navy records documents the history of this rowing organization from 1859 to 2009. An organization dedicated to hosting rowing events for its member clubs and visiting teams, the collection houses the administrative records of the Schuylkill Navy and its member clubs, including the original founding members as well as clubs that joined the organization later; and records related to the planning and promotion of regattas. In addition, the collection includes an extensive assortment of newspaper clippings and photographs that highlight Schuylkill Navy rowing events and its influential members. The collection contains administrative records, information regarding regattas and member rowing clubs, publications, scrapbooks and clippings, photographs, non-rowing records, and information regarding other rowing organizations.
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Thayer Describes Sinking of Titanic

Thayer Describes Sinking of Titanic

Thayer family collection, 1892-1986 (Independence Seaport Museum): The Thayers were a prominent Philadelphia-area family at the turn of the 20th century. John Borland Thayer, Jr. was a vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad when he died in the sinking of Titanic on April 15, 1912. The Thayer family collection consists of more than 700 items of ocean liner ephemera dating from 1892 to 1986, including postcards, abstracts of logs, advertisements, passenger lists, menus, deck plans, photographs, stationery and baggage tags from ships of more than 40 lines. The collection also includes one of the only extant first class passenger lists from Titanic.
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Ship plans

Ship plans

Thomas D. Bowes, M.E. Associates records, 1905-1965 (Independence Seaport Museum):  In 1905, Thomas D. Bowes (1883-1965) founded the naval architecture firm of Thomas D. Bowes, M.E., Associates Inc. From 1905 to 1965, the Bowes firm functioned as part of a large network of ship design and building companies along Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, which included the John H. Mathis Company, which built many of Bowes’ designs, and RTC Shipbuilding Company. Bowes designed over eighty tugboats, several of Philadelphia’s fireboats and over 300 yachts, which were mostly commuter and houseboat yachts. He also designed and patented the Bowes Drive, an electric device for the reduction of speed between the engine and drive shafts in marine installations. Overall, “Tugboat Tom,” as he was known, designed over 800 vessel plans. The Thomas D. Bowes, M.E., Associates records, 1904-1980, consists of ships’ plans and records created by that naval architecture firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Materials in the collection include the business records of Bowes’ firm, design plans and measured drawings of Bowes’ vessels, and some personal papers. Bowes designed vessels of all sizes, from small sail boats to 300 foot barges; and for all purposes receiving contracts for leisure, business and military vessels. There are four series in this collection: “Corporate Records,” “Personal Papers,” “Design Plan records” and “Measured drawings.”
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A Different Kind of Hull

A Different Kind of Hull

Ward collection of New York Shipbuilding Corporation material, 1919-1967 (Independence Seaport Museum):  The New York Shipbuilding Corporation (NYS) was founded in 1899 by Henry G. Morse (1850-1903), who served as the company’s first president. The company held significant government contracts during both World Wars, and built ships for the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Emergency Fleet Corporation as well as the Department of Commerce and Labor. During the 1930s, the company built luxury ocean liners, such as the Manhattan and the Washington for the United States Lines, and also built ships for Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Railroad, Standard Oil and American Export Lines. During its tenure, the New York Shipbuilding Corporation constructed over 500 ships. NYS completed its last ship in 1967 and went out of business shortly thereafter. The bulk of the collection appears to have been work-related materials used by John F. Ward, a New York Shipbuilding employee in the 1950s and 1960s. The collection includes material from 1919 to 1969, with the bulk of the material from the 1950s and 1960s. Much of the material covers technical and engineering aspects of work being performed at the shipyard, but also includes some items that many employees of the shipyard would have received, such as a 1959 “Rules of Safety” manual. The collection contains a number of publications, written histories, and clippings that detail the history of the shipyard at several times throughout its existence.
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