Quincy's Shipbuilding Heritage Collection

Collection Title: Quincy's Shipbuilding Heritage. Consisting of 7 bound volumes,  photographs and newspaper clippings                       

Collection Location: Quincy Room, Thomas Crane Public Library
40 Washington Street, Quincy, Massachusetts 02169
Prepared by: Staff of the Thomas Crane Public Library    

Restrictions: Bound volumes, photographs, newspaper clippings, glass negatives and slides can only be viewed in the Library under the supervision of the Reference Librarian. The digitized collection is available through the Library's Web site at http://thomascranelibrary.org/shipbuildingheritage. The collection is stored in CD format for archival purposes.

Provenance: Volumes owned by the Thomas Crane Public Library
Warren S. Parker Collection photographs purchased by the Library (1944).

Historical Note: In 2000 the Library began a digital imaging project of materials related to the shipbuilding industry in Quincy. The project is funded by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant under the direction of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The goal of the grant is to provide worldwide electronic access to researchers and interested parties of this significant local history material. Preservation and physical integrity of the original items is also assured by this project. With the interest now displayed in the recollections of World War II veterans, it is timely that this collection be available to those who served and others. Many of the ships built in Quincy such as the battleship  “Massachusetts”, the “Quincy ”, the “Lexington ”, the “Salem” and countless others were the homes of the “greatest generation” away from home.

   The history of Quincy shipbuilding spans decades from its colonial beginnings to its unprecedented contributions in World War I and II and into the prosperous post war years. The Quincy region was an ideal area for shipbuilding due to its geographical attributes such as twenty-seven miles of shoreline, deep-water channels and low tide depths averaging from twenty-four to thirty feet. In 1789 the largest merchant ship built in North America was launched from the shores of Germantown, a Quincy neighborhood. In the 1800's, clipper ships, fishing and whaling boats and local seafaring crafts were an integral part of the region's economic livelihood. With advances in engine mechanics and steel manufacturing the shipbuilding industry flourished in the twentieth century.

    It reached its peak during the years of World War II with a labor force of 32,000 local workers. Generations worked side by side and every local household was somehow affected by the activities of the Fore River Shipyard.  Adults and children knew the time of the day by the whistle-blows and attended the many charitable events conducted through the years. The Quincy yard was called  “ the world's greatest shipyard in World War II”. This was due to its high production rate; an average of some form of naval transport was launched every twelve and one half days.  From 1941-1943 it produced a total of eighty-eight ships of eleven different types.  As these ships traveled the world a distinguishing feature of Quincy built ships became known. The phrase “ Kilroy was here” and the accompanying graphic of a bald headed character looking over a fence was the trademark of Fore River Shipyard welder inspector James J. Kilroy.  After the war, production centered on tankers, cargo ships, passenger liners and additional naval contracts.  The smaller shipyards mentioned in the lectures concentrated on pleasure yachts and racing craft. These would also be distinguished within the shipbuilding industry as being of the highest standards of quality workmanship.

Scope and Contents Note: This is an artificial collection created by the Thomas Crane Public Library. The items selected are part of the Quincy Historical Room Collection, which houses materials relating to Quincy's history and material by Quincy authors. The photographs and clippings are from the Warren S. Parker Collection. Bound volumes are housed in the Quincy Room on open shelves. The numbered glass negatives, slides and newspaper clippings are filed in the Quincy Room.

   Mr. Parker held the position of city building inspector. He created a series of lectures about Quincy history using glass slides as illustrations. These photographs date between 1875 and 1932. There are approximately 500 pages of notes, newspaper clippings, including small pamphlets on early shipbuilding in Quincy. The majority of the material concentrates on the history of shipbuilding in Quincy primarily at the Fore River Shipyard. Additional materials include information on the Quincy waterfront, Souther Tide Mill and the Victory Plant.  

   Other material related to the naval history of World War II can be found in the library's collection by subject access on the online catalog.  Detailed photographs and descriptions of some of the Quincy built ships can be found in Jane's Fighting Ships of WW II (Ref. 623.825 J25w).   A personal memoir by Helen M. Lincoln on Quincy Point and the shipbuilding industry can be found in the Quincy Room (Q.R. 974.47 L63). A pictorial history of the USS Lexington entitled, The ”Lady Lex” and the “Blue Ghost”, can be found in the reference collection (Ref. 359.9435 EW56).  Many general histories of Quincy also contain chapters on the shipbuilding industry.

Container List

Series I: Photos

Warren S. Parker Collection – 311 images in varied formats - Lantern Slides, Glass and/or film negatives, prints. The collection of photographs is indexed and the material selected can be accessed by these entries:

                  Waterfront, Northerly Section

                  Waterfront, Southerly Section

Series II: Lectures

Waterfront – Southerly Section, Parker, Q.R. 917.447 v.14 pt.2

Series III: Bound Volumes

Bethlehem-built. Bethlehem Steel Company, Shipbuilding Division, New York, 1958.  Q.R.  359 B46B

Chapter XVII      Shipbuilding, Quincy's Largest Industry, William Churchill Edwards: Historic Quincy Massachusetts. City of Quincy, 1957.  Q.R. 974.47 Ed9th  1957ed

Fore River Log, May 1915-March 1920     Q.R. 623.8 F76

A History of Shipbuilding at Fore River.  Anthony F. Sarcone and Lawrence S. Rines.  Quincy, Mass.: Quincy Junior College, Department of History, 1975?     Q.R. 623.82  Sa7

The Plant of the Fore River Ship & Engine Company, Quincy, Mass. The H.B Humphrey Company, Boston, 1902., Rogers Dickinson. Q.R 633.8 D56

Series IV: Notes and Clippings

Shipbuilding, Parker Q.R. 974.47 P22n v.6, pt.3 (in 3 volumes)
V.6  Pt3  A2 Fore River Shipyard
V.6  Pt3 A6  Warships A-L
V.6  Pt3  A6 Warships M-Z
V.6  Pt3  A7  Submarines
V.6  Pt3  A8  Merchant Ships
V.6  Pt3   B1   Victory Plant
V.6  Pt3  B2   Miscellaneous Shipyards