John Lenthall was born in Washington, DC, in 1807. He learned the trade of ship carpenter at the Washington Navy Yard where his father, also named John Lenthall, was superintendent of shipwrights. Sometime thereafter (approximately 1827), Lenthall began working as an as sistant and draftsman to Samuel Humphreys. In this position, he was also exposed to the work of William Doughty who assumed the responsibilities of Chief Naval Constructor from 1813 to 1826, though he never formally held that title. Both Samuel Humphreys and William Doughty had been associated with the establishment of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1800-1801. Lenthall continued to perfect his drafting skills between 1826 and 1835. He entered the naval service on May 1, 1835, and was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He was appointed Constructor at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1838 and held that post until 1849. From 1849 to 1853 he served as Chief Naval Constructor in Washington, D.C., and from 1853 until his retirement in 1871, he was Chief of the Bureau of Construction for the Navy Department. Lenthall died in 1882.
This collection consists of papers created by or retained by the shipbuilding firm of John Lenthall and Company of Philadelphia. Approximately two-thirds of the collection consists of lists of materials and bills of costs for the construction of specific ships. The remainder of the collection consists of lists of materials and bills of costs, and in some cases specifications, for many different types of vessels. Other types of material found in the collection are correspondence, usually letters of transmittal of technical documents, drawings of specific subassemblies of vessels, and written descriptions of vessels or subassemblies. The most extensively documented single ship in the collection is the razee USS Macedonian, including reports on the ship’s construction and handling under sail.
- Schematic drawings
- ISm: John Lenthall collection
- Lenthall, John