Processing and conservation of this collection
was funded in part by a grant from the National Historical Publication and
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Crowninshield, B. B. (Bowdoin Bradlee), 1867-1948
Bowdoin B. Crowninshield (1867-1948)
7.5 linear feet (15 boxes)
The Bowdoin B. Crowninshield
papers are comprised of the business and personal papers of the naval architect and
SERIES I. Business Papers
B. Naval Architecture Record Books
C. Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company Record and Account
D. United States Navy Shipbuilding Papers
E. Miscellaneous Papers
SERIES II. Personal Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Bowdoin B. Crowninshield papers are comprised of the business and personal papers
of the naval architect and shipbuilder from 1870 to 1946. The bulk of the papers
concern Crowninshield's work in naval architecture from 1898 to 1940. The collection
has been divided into two series.
Series I. Business Papers includes correspondence,
letter books, record books, account books, shipbuilding papers, and legal papers,
which document his work as a naval architect and shipbuilder. Subseries A. Business Correspondence is almost entirely made up of
letters between Crowninshield and Thomas W. Lawson concerning trials of the
America's Cup contender Independence. The letter books
contain outgoing correspondence to suppliers, shipbuilders, and prospective
customers relative to his design and shipbuilding activities.
Subseries B. Naval Architecture Record Books provide
specifications of Crowninshield's ships listed by design number. These design
numbers correlate with the numbers used on the B. B. Crowninshield drawings
currently in the custody of the Peabody Essex Museum's Maritime Department. The
records often identify the shipbuilder, the name of the customer, and sometimes
include notes on the performance of the vessel during its trial runs.
Subseries C. Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company Record
Book contains similar descriptions of the vessels built at Fall River and
the project numbers in the record books correlate with the Crowninshield
Shipbuilding Company photo album in the custody of the Peabody Essex Museum's
Photography Department. The account books document Crowninshield's activities in a
number of marine industries. However, the accounts are not always in chronological
order, and groups of account regarding a specific year may be found in a number of
locations within a single volume. Researchers interested in accounts relative to
certain partnerships or the Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company, should consult
volumes containing accounts during the years of the partnership's existence (see
Appendix I). Of particular interest is the 1906, 1926-1928 account book, which
contains listings of "Situations Wanted" from 1926 to 1928. These are descriptions
for individuals of varying levels of training and experience seeking jobs in a
number of capacities relative to yachting, fishing, and maritime commerce. The
1914-1915, 1927-1928 account book includes marine insurance accounts from 1914-1915.
Also included in this subseries is a photograph album, with some loose photographs,
of ship hulls built by Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company.
Subseries D. United States Navy Shipbuilding Papers
documents Crowninshield's activities as Inspector of Hulls Building during World War
II. The correspondence and memoranda folder contains mostly administrative material
regarding submission of time sheets, pay of civilians, travel orders, and gasoline
rationing. There is some correspondence pertaining to George Turnquist (Ensign, U.S.
Navy) and some material about requests for duplicate ship plans. A copy of the 1942
Navy Day speech by Rear Admiral H. T. Smith, given at the Quincy Chamber of Commerce
Hall, is enclosed with a typewritten letter dated December 22, 1942. The 1943-1944
notebook contains notes on inspections of newly built naval vessels, and their trial
runs, in addition to a draft letter to the Marblehead Assessors Office concerning
Crowninshield's inability to pay real estate taxes.
Subseries E. Miscellaneous Papers includes a
1902-1926 scrapbook which contains news clippings and photographs of vessels
designed or built by Crowninshield, often with his personal handwritten notes. Among
the miscellaneous papers is an agreement releasing Crowninshield from liability to
Thomas W. Lawson for claims against design faults of the Independence.
Series II. Personal Papers contain Crowninshield's
diaries, scrapbooks, and legal papers. The deeds/indentures folders concern
purchases or sales of property and include rental agreements. The construction
contracts relate to improvements made to Crowninshield's personal properties. The
bills of sale for yachts document Crowninshield's interest in the schooners, Harmony and Fortune, and the
boat, Quill. Miscellaneous papers include proof of
citizenship document signed by United States Secretary of State James G. Blaine, and
documentation of Crowninshield's enlistment and discharge from the Massachusetts
Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield was born on October 13,
1867, in New York City, to Benjamin W. (1837-1892) and Katherine M. Crowninshield.
He received his A. B. from Harvard in 1890. Crowninshield formed three real estate
brokerage partnerships in Great Falls, Montana, from 1890 to 1891, and then moved to
Boston, starting a real estate business there in 1893. In 1898, he established his
practice in naval architecture in Boston, originally in partnership with Frank
Tandy. He was involved in many marine-related activities throughout his career,
including design, construction, brokerage, insurance, and personnel management. He
designed the America's Cup contender Independence in
1902, and also the seven-mast steel-hulled schooner, Thomas W.
Lawson. Crowninshield served with the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance
Corps in northwestern France in 1916 and was present at the battle of Verdun.
From 1917 to 1926 he was President and General Manager of the Crowninshield
Shipbuilding Company of Fall River, Massachusetts. Crowninshield resumed his work in
naval architecture in 1926 and was appointed Inspector of Hull Building for the
United States Navy in 1943. His inspections on behalf of the navy were conducted at
shipyards in Manchester, Ipswich, and Amesbury, Massachusetts, until 1945. In 1940
his book, Fore n Afters was published.
Crowninshield married Priscilla MacPhail in 1901. Priscilla died in 1915, and he
married Laura Widlar one year later. He died on August 12, 1948.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Blaine, James G., 1830-1893
Burbank, Ralph N.
Howard, William Lee, 1860-1918
Krogman, Harold W.
Lawson, Thomas William, 1857-1925
Smith, H. T.
Crowninshield and Burbank
Crowninshield and Krogman
Crowninshield Shipbuilding Company
Crowninshield, Burbank, and Howard
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
This material is a reorganization and integration of 18 boxes of manuscripts, and
seven volumes. Two boxes of deeds and legal papers were the gift of Mrs. Francis B.
Crowninshield (acc #14, 313). One folder of correspondence concerning Thomas
Lawson's yacht Independence was purchased from Howard
S. Mott (acc #16, 045). The balance of the collection was donated by Mrs. Bowdon B.
Crowninshield (acc #12, 297). Some deeds relating to the estate of Crowninshield's
father, Benjamin W. Crowninshield (1837-1892) were removed for processing with the
balance of his estate papers. One copy of Edward Burgess' American and English Yachts has been removed for inclusion in the
library's print collection.
Collection processed by Robert P. Spindler, January 1988. Updated by Hilary Streifer,
Crowninshield, B. B. Fore 'n Afters. Boston: Houghton
This material is a reorganization and integration of 18 boxes of manuscripts, and seven volumes. Two boxes of deeds and legal papers were the gift of Mrs. Francis B. Crowninshield (acc #14, 313). One folder of correspondence concerning Thomas Lawson’s yacht Independence was purchased from Howard S. Mott (acc #16, 045). The balance of the collection was donated by Mrs. Bowdon B. Crowninshield (acc #12,297).