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Independence Seaport Museum collection on New York Shipbuilding Corporation


Held at: Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library [Contact Us]Penn's Landing on the Delaware River, 211 South Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

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 name reflects its originally intended location on Staten Island; although the name was already incorporated, land was cheaper in Camden, New Jersey, so Morse built the shipyard there. According to the history of the first fifty years of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, “at the outset, it was decided to break away from the old century’s accepted practices of ship building and build a yard in which could be applied the most up-to-date labor-saving machinery and advanced methods of structural steel construction,” (NYS, page 11). As a result, “a revolutionary idea of connecting all the parts of the yard with overhead cranes, making the transportation of materials significantly easier,” (ELSLAW) was implemented. During its tenure, the New York Shipbuilding Corporation constructed over 500 ships.

The company held significant government contracts during both World Wars, and built ships for the U. S. Navy, the Coast Guard, the Emergency Fleet Corporation and the Department of Commerce and Labor. However, NYS did not rely only on governmental commissions. During the 1930s the company was responsible for the completion of luxury ocean liners, such as the Manhattan and the Washington of the United States Lines, and also built ships for Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Railroad, Standard Oil and American Export Lines. In addition to American contracts, some notable commissions came from international clients. NYS built a battleship for Argentina, a fuel ship for Japan, and a Protected Cruiser for Greece.

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. In particular, there are two books of inventories of measured drawings or blueprints that date from 1940 to 1941 (the blueprints themselves are not included); papers related to company contracts from 1944 and 1964; and minimal information pertaining to shipyard employees and unions. There is an inventory for the USNX (United States Department of Defense - Military Traffic Management Command) facility and two inventories related to fuel consumption. There are also a handful of publications, including two that discuss the history of the corporation. Of note, is an oversized scrapbook of newspaper clippings about the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and files containing information on specific ships. Ship information is typically provided in a few brochures or pamphlets. Ships covered are: The Nuclear Ship Savannah, USS Arkansas, USS Camden, USS Kitty Hawk, USS Truxtun and the USS Utah.

Finally, there are a few files on shipyard layout and ship design, and work and purchase orders.

Please review the collection inventory for more details.

The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.

Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.

Newspaper Clippings Scrapbook is oversized.

Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Rebecca Koch and Jennifer Duli
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Collections and Archives" Project.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Collection Inventory

Draft Book, 1940-1941.
Box 1 Folder 1
Draft Book, 1941.
Box 1 Folder 2
Series II. Contracts, 1944-1964.
Box 1 Folder 3

Manuals and Bonds/Insurance Papers, circa 1960s.
Box 1 Folder 4
Union Materials, 1947-1950.
Box 1 Folder 5
"Welder's price list" (pamphlet), undated.
Box 1 Folder 6
Worker's Compensation Papers, 1901.
Box 1 Folder 7

Fuel Consumption Inventory, 1941-1951.
Box 1 Folder 8
Fuel Oil Consumption Inventory, 1941-1953.
Box 2 Folder 1
USNX [United States Department of Defense - Military Traffic Management Command] facility inventory, 1964.
Box 2 Folder 2
Series V. Newspaper Clippings Scrapbook, 1955-1956.
Volume 1
Series VI. Ephemera, undated.
Box 2 Folder 3

50 Years: New York Shipbuilding Corporation, 1945.
Box 2 Folder 4
Black Horse News, 1958-1959.
Box 2 Folder 5
Company Brochures, circa 1955.
Box 2 Folder 6
Miscellaneous Publications, 1964, undated.
Box 3 Folder 1
New York Shipbuilding Corporation: A History and Record, 1931.
Box 3 Folder 2
Shipways, circa 1958.
Box 3 Folder 3
York Ship News, 1919-1921.
Box 3 Folder 4

Nuclear Ship Savannah, 1959, undated.
Box 3 Folder 5
USS Arkansas, undated.
Box 3 Folder 6
USS Camden, 1967.
Box 3 Folder 7
USS Kitty Hawk, 1960, undated.
Box 3 Folder 8
USS Truxtun, 1967.
Box 3 Folder 9
USS Utah, 1911.
Box 3 Folder 10

"L.E. Wolfson and T.A. Scott Booklet of Tank Capacities", 1957.
Box 3 Folder 11
"A Modern Ten Cubic Yard Dipper Dredge", 1958.
Box 3 Folder 12
Shipyard Layout and Ways, undated.
Box 3 Folder 13

Checks, 1899-1902.
Box 4 Folder 1
Job Order Book, 1957-1966.
Box 4 Folder 2
Purchase Orders, 1960-1961.
Box 4 Folder 3

Print, Suggest