This collection is comprised of over 18 cubic feet of material generated during the course of the Historic American Merchant Marine Survey. The bulk of the collection consists of survey books and measured drawings. Other records include administrative papers relating to the project, an index and catalogue, and a listing of the names of vessels surveyed.
The collection is divided into five series.
Series 1: H.A.M.M.S. Index
Series 2: H.A.M.M.S. Catalogue
Series 3: Names of Vessels, 1789-
Series 4: Field Notes
Series 5: Drawings
Biographical / Historical:
The Historic American Merchant Marine Survey (HAMMS) was one of six projects created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to provide work for unemployed skilled or "white collar" workers. These projects were intended to provide work which was both useful and appropriate to the skills and experience of workers who were not suited for more traditional work programs involving manual or outdoor labor. The specific goal of HAMMS was to undertake a national survey of watercraft, in order to document the design and technical evolution of vessel types significant in America's commercial maritime history. This was to be accomplished by making measured drawings of existing vessels, ship models, and builders' half models; by making a photographic record of significant vessels; and by compiling written data about vessels.
The HAMMS program was in existence from January 1, 1936 to October 15, 1937. The Smithsonian Institution served as the official sponsor of the Survey and received all the documentation produced, thus augmenting its already significant National Watercraft Collection. Unlike other WPA projects, HAMMS was administered directly from Washington by its Director, Eric J. Steinlein, who coordinated the survey work of six regional directors. Despite its national mandate, the Survey actually was limited to the eastern seaboard, the Great Lakes, and California. Furthermore, the types of craft surveyed and the level of documentation varied considerably within the six regions. During the course of its existence, the HAMMS program conducted over 166 surveys and produced over 400 sheets of line drawings of ship's hulls, rigging, and details.
The materials in this collection were turned over to the Smithsonian soon after the completion of the project in 1937.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
These papers document Melvin H. Jackson's professional work in maritime history. Included are research notes for his book on privateering, gunfounding, and the Historic
American Merchant Marine Survey; and correspondence and notes for his consulting work at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Materials also include notes from his research toward
his Ph.D. at Harvard, miscellaneous bibliographic research notes, and extensive files on the 1876 Centennial Exhibition and the Hall of Maritime Enterprise exhibition at the
The Historic American Merchant Marine Survey : a Works Progress Administration Federal project for the watercraft collection of the Smithsonian Institution / edited and with an introd. by Melvin H. Jackson