New York Shipbuilding Corporation (Ward collection)

Ward collection of New York Shipbuilding Corporation material, 1919–1969.
6 boxes (2.5 linear feet).
Abstract

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 existance.

About New York Shipbuilding Corporation

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, both 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.

Merritt-Chapman & Scott, a marine salvage and construction firm, acquired NYS in 1953. The shipyard completed its last ship in 1967 and went out of business shortly thereafter.

About the collection

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 existance.

Shipbuilding contract material includes correspondence regarding ship construction and publications featuring USS Kitty Hawk and Nuclear Ship Savannah. It also includes lists of all New York Shipbuilding contracts as well as plans of the shipyard property. Related materials published by the Navy between 1939 and 1969 are included in the series “U.S. Navy Publications on Policies, Procedures, and Specifications.”

New York Shipbuilding publications include yard newsletters from 1919 to 1921 and a single issue from 1959. The published marketing material includes several New York Shipbuilding histories, promotional brochures, annual reports — these items, while not comprehensive, give a roughly once-a-decade view of how the company was marketing itself between the 1920s and 1960s. This information is supplemented by the material in the “Histories and Clippings Regarding New York Shipbuilding” series, which also contains vessel-specific information. The collection includes several shipyard reports, technical reports, and guidelines, including a 1919 “Information for Employees” booklet.

The collection includes several marketing items from Merritt-Chapman & Scott, a marine salvage and construction firm that acquired New York Shipbuilding in 1953.

The collection contains a small amount of material on the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania, as well as a handful of other publications, including a 1920 report, “Delaware River Ship Builders’ Council” published by American Federation of Labor.

Subjects
  • New York Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Nuclear submarines
  • Shipbuilding industry–New Jersey
  • Shipbuilding–history
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Technical manuals
  • Newsletters
Related collections
  • Independence Seaport Museum: New York Shipbuilding records, 1895-1967 (1967.310)
  • Independence Seaport Museum collection on the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, 1919-1964
  • Hagley Museum and Library
  • Camden County Historical Society
  • South Jersey Port Corporation.
Reference files
  • New York Shipbuilding
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