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American International Shipbuilding Corporation photographs of Hog Island shipyard


Held at: Philadelphia History Museum [Contact Us]15 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia History Museum. 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 United States government created the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) in 1917, just days after entering World War I, and hired the American International Shipbuilding Corporation to build and operate a shipyard for the construction of merchant ships. Hog Island Shipyard, built near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from December 1917 to Spring 1918, would become the largest shipyard in the world. It spanned 846 acres, with 50 shipways and 250 buildings, at its peak employing 35,000 workers and launching a vessel every 5.5 days. Rather than a traditional shipyard, Hog Island was more an like an assembly center that made use of prefabricated parts mass-produced elsewhere. By the time the yard was closed in 1921, 122 ships had been built there.

The City of Philadelphia purchased the abandoned shipyard in 1930 and used financing from the Works Progress Administration to construct the Philadelphia Municipal Airport on part of that land and nearby Tinicum Township. Another portion of the former island was used as an ammunition depot from 1940 until 1958, when it was converted into a marine petroleum discharging terminal.


Lawrence, John W. "Hog Island." In The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Accessed November 21, 2014.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History. "Photograph of Hog Island." In the exhibition On the Water. Accessed November 21, 2014.

This collection consists of about 2,000 photographs from de-constructed photo albums created by the American International Shipbuilding Corporation to document the construction of the Hog Island Shipyard (1917-1918) and its operations. The photos are captioned and show images of building roads, trenching for water and sewage pipes, and other infrastructure construction; the shipyard's hospital, training school, offices, and other buildings; the Hog Island Hotel and post office; views of the river and all of the yard's shipways; ships in various building phases and detailed images of shipbuilding techniques and processes using the assembly line and pre-fabricated parts; completed ships, detail shots of various parts of the interior and exterior of completed ships, ship launchings, ships leaving Hog Island, and images of the ships at numerous international ports; and construction workers, ship builders, war veterans, shipyard guards, post office workers, hospital employees, and various other people who worked in the shipyard or on Hog Island.

An item level inventory is available on-site. Also associated with this collection is a wooden half-hull model of a ship.

Gift of Federal Maritime Commission, 1939 (accession 39.8)

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Philadelphia History Museum directly for more information.

Philadelphia History Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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