Guide to Federal Records

Records of the United States Maritime Commission


(Record Group 178)
1917-50

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 178.1 Administrative History
  • 178.2 General Records 1936-50
    • 178.2.1 Administrative records
    • 178.2.2 Records of commissioners
    • 178.2.3 Records of other officials
    • 178.2.4 Records of the General Counsel's Office
    • 178.2.5 Records of the Public Information Office
    • 178.2.6 Records of the Historian's Office
  • 178.3 Records of the Division of Regulations 1917-48
  • 178.4 Records of the Division of Operations 1917-49
  • 178.5 Records of the Bureau of Finance 1921-43
  • 178.6 Records of the Construction Division 1942-46
  • 178.7 Records of the Surplus Property Division 1945-47
  • 178.8 Records of the Production Division 1940-47
  • 178.9 Records of the Division of Research and Statistics 1918-49
  • 178.10 Records of the San Francisco, CA, Field Office 1942-47
  • 178.11 Cartographic Records (General) 1940-46
  • 178.12 Motion Pictures (General) 1924-45
  • 178.13 Sound Recordings (General) 1941-45
  • 178.14 Still Pictures (General) 1942-43

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178.1 Administrative History

Established: As an independent agency, by the Merchant Marine Act (49 Stat. 1985), June 29, 1936.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • U.S. Shipping Board (1917-34)
  • U.S. Shipping Board Bureau, Department of Commerce (1934-36)
  • U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation (1917-27)
  • U.S. Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation (1927-36)
Functions: Encouraged the U.S. merchant marine by regulating U.S. ocean commerce, supervising freight and terminal facilities, and subsidizing the construction and operation of commercial ships. Responsibility for merchant fleet operations transferred to War Shipping Administration, 1942; returned to U.S. Maritime Commission, effective September 1, 1946.

Abolished: By Reorganization Plan No. 21 of 1950, effective May 24, 1950.

Successor Agencies: Department of Commerce (Federal Maritime Board and Maritime Administration).

Finding Aids: Forrest R. Holdcamper, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States Maritime Commission," NC 5 (July 1964); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the U.S. Maritime Commission in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the U.S. Shipping Board, RG 32.
Records of the War Shipping Administration, RG 248.
Records of the Maritime Administration, RG 357.
Records of the Federal Maritime Commission, RG 358.

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178.2 General Records
1936-50

History: U.S. Shipping Board established by Shipping Act (39 Stat. 729), September 7, 1916, to regulate U.S. commercial maritime carriers; abolished, effective March 2, 1934, by EO 6166, June 10, 1933, and replaced by the U.S. Shipping Board Bureau, Department of Commerce. U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation established, September 16, 1917, under provisions of the Shipping Act, to acquire, construct, and supervise the operation of U.S. Shipping Board merchant vessels; renamed U.S. Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation by act of February 11, 1927 (44 Stat. 1083). U.S. Shipping Board Bureau and Merchant Fleet Corporation replaced by U.S. Maritime Commission, 1936. see 178.1.

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178.2.1 Administrative records

Textual Records: Minutes, with exhibits and indexes, 1936-50. Agendas, 1944-50, and transcripts, 1948-50, of special meetings. Outgoing letters, 1942-50. Actions, orders, and memorandums of the chairman, general manager, and Executive Panel, 1947-50, with indexes. General orders and supplements, 1936-50. Orders for the transfer of vessels to foreign registry, the transfer and surrender of vessel documents, and the approval of vessel charters, 1936-50.

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178.2.2 Records of commissioners

Textual Records: Records of Commissioner Henry A. Wiley relating to trade routes, subsidies, and labor problems, 1936-40. Records of Commissioner Edward C. Moran, 1937-41. Records of Commissioner John M. Carmody relating to personnel recruitment and training, 1941-46. Shipbuilding records of Commissioner Howard L. Vickery, 1942-46.

Photographs (150 images):Shipyard presentation albums for Commissioner Howard L. Vickery, 1941-44 (PA).

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178.2.3 Records of other officials

Textual Records: Budgetary and other reference files of Executive Director S. Duvall Schell, 1940-46. Records of financial assistant J.W. Black relating to subsidies and inland waterways, 1937-41. Correspondence and reports of special assistant William H. Lally relating to shipbuilding and shipyard labor, 1939-44. Records of F.H. Van Riper relating to the Shipbuilding Stabilization Commission, 1942-45, including minutes of shipbuilding stabilization conferences.

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178.2.4 Records of the General Counsel's Office

Textual Records: Reports and other records relating to legislation, statistical data, costs of foreign labor and material, and insurance, 1936-48.

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178.2.5 Records of the Public Information Office

Textual Records: Press releases, speeches, and correspondence concerning censorship, merchant marine casualties, Liberty ships, and incidents involving merchant vessels and personnel, 1936-47.

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178.2.6 Records of the Historian's Office

Textual Records: Correspondence of historian Fredrick C. Lane, 1944-47. Reports of interviews with commission officials, 1944- 47.

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178.3 Records of the Division of Regulations
1917-48

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1928-42. Correspondence and other records about "conference agreements" among shippers in certain geographical areas relating to rates and commodities, 1920-47. Dockets of tariff and rebate hearings, including deferred rebate dockets, 1917-22; and investigative documents, 1932-40. Periodic division reports, 1940-47. Inactive agreements, 1929-40. General dockets, 1917-48 (105 ft.).

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178.4 Records of the Division of Operations
1917-49

Textual Records: Logs of merchant ships owned and operated by the U.S. Merchant Fleet Corporation and the U.S. Maritime Commission, 1917-41 (4,140 ft.), with indexes. Vessel movement cards, 1917- 40. Service records of shipboard personnel, 1917-49.

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178.5 Records of the Bureau of Finance
1921-43

Textual Records: Financial and statistical requests, 1930-43. Records relating to contracts for construction and insurance, 1921-41. Division payroll reports, 1936-43.

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178.6 Records of the Construction Division
1942-46

Textual Records: Records of the East Coast Director for Construction, 1942-46 (in Philadelphia). Records of the West Coast Director for Construction, 1942-45 (in San Francisco). Correspondence and other records of Lt. Comdr. William A. Weber, special assistant to the Vice-Chairman, concerning problems in vessel construction, 1942-45.

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178.7 Records of the Surplus Property Division
1945-47

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, and memorandums relating to the disposal of materials and facilities and the distribution of surplus materials through the Lend-Lease Act, 1945-47.

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178.8 Records of the Production Division
1940-47

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1941-47 (157 ft.). "Hull" correspondence, 1941-45. Records relating to shipyard facilities, 1941-45 (122 ft.). Correspondence and other records relating to shipyard labor relations, 1940-47. Correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous records of the Construction Engineering Section, 1941-45.

Maps (1 item): Locations of U.S. shipyards that were building vessels for the U.S. Maritime Commission, 1943. see also 178.11.

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178.9 Records of the Division of Research and Statistics
1918-49

Textual Records: Annual reports of waterborne commerce of the United States, 1923-49. Cargo, mail, and passenger reports, 1918- 46 (957 ft.). Vessel utilization reports, 1946-48.

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178.10 Records of the San Francisco, CA, Field Office
1942-47

Textual Records (in San Francisco): Operational records of the "Victory Ship" S.S. George Berkeley, 1942-46, consisting of correspondence, issuances, inspection reports, crew lists, guide books, and ship certificates. Correspondence, minutes, and copies of labor-management agreements of the Pacific Coast Maritime Industry Board, 1942-47.

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178.11 Cartographic Records (General)
1940-46

Maps (2 items): Published world maps showing ports of call, trade routes, and statistics of U.S. foreign trade, 1940-46.

see Maps under 178.8.

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178.12 Motion Pictures (General)
1924-45

75 reels

Rescue work and peacetime shipping and passenger service on the Great Lakes and at sea, 1924-45. Commander Richard E. Byrd and Clarence D. Chamberlin on an early airmail flight from the deck of a ship, 1928. The Coast Guard keeping shipping lanes open, 1929. Recruiting, training, and other activities of the commission, 1938-44. British coastal fortifications, 1940. History of the merchant marine from the Revolutionary War through World War II, 1945. Wartime activities, including convoy duties, vessel construction, ship launchings, repair and renovation of ships for the "Victory Fleet," and manufacture of war material, 1942-45.

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178.13 Sound Recordings (General)
1941-45

127 items

Radio broadcasts of "Information Please," "It's Maritime," "For This We Fight," "Heroes of the Merchant Marine," "Men at Sea," "Fibber McGee and Molly," "Sing Along," "Deeds Without Words," and similar programs concerning the work of the commission and the merchant marine in the war effort; and dramatizations of significant events in the history of the merchant marine, 1941- 45.

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178.14 Still Pictures (General)
1942-43

Records of the West Regional Office, consisting of photographs and negatives of the Richmond Housing Project, 1942-43 (in San Francisco).

see Photographs under 178.2.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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