William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia was founded in 1825 by William Cramp. When the yard opened in 1830, Cramp was one of at least thirteen private shipbuilding establishments operating along the Philadelphia waterfront. Seventy years later, it was the only one of the original group which was still operating. Cramp was one of the few American shipbuilders to survive the transition from a craft mode of production focused around wooden sailing vessels to an industry centered around steam engines and iron and steel construction; from canvas and rope to mechanical devices including refrigeration, lighting, and telegraph equipment. The American Ship & Commerce Corporation bought the yard in 1919 but closed it in 1927 as fewer ships were ordered by the U.S. Navy after passage of the Naval Limitations Treaty in 1923. In 1940, the Navy spent $22 million to reopen the yard to build cruisers and submarines. Cramp closed in 1947 and the site, on the Delaware River, became an industrial park.
This is a collection of plans, photographs, and business records of William Cramp and Sons. THe collection consists of items owned by the Independence Seaport Museum and items on permanemt loan from the Franklin Institute and the Atwater Kent Museum. The collection contains approximately 2300 ships plans, dating from 1871 to 1927. Included are plans for cargo and passenger steamers, colliers, tugboats, steam yachts, cruisers, battleships, as well as several other types of large vessels. Photographs include images of ships, shipyard activities, launching ceremonies, and corporate offices, dating from 1888 to 1927 and from 1941 to 1945). Business records date from 1872 to 1947 and include corporate records, operations information, articles and speeches on shipbuilding, clipping files kept by the company’s publicity department, and some records of the I.P. Morris Company, a subsidiary of Cramp. For a detailed company history and inventory of the collection, see the collection guide. [link to collection guide on ISM website]
- see guide