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Papers of California Shipbuilding Corporation 1941-1976

i Jun 9th No Comments by
CalShip Log cover, September 1, 1941

The first bi-monthly issue of CalShip Log, September 1, 1941.

Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library Collection 75.

The collection contains 10.5 cubic feet of photographic prints and negatives, 17.75 linear feet of oversized photographic prints, and 3 cubic feet of documents.

Read the collection guide at Online Archive of California.

Description: California Shipbuilding Corporation built 467 Liberty and Victory ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission.

This collection contains documents, correspondence, personnel lists, publications, motion pictures, and photographs of ship launchings and activities and events at the shipyard. The photographic prints and negatives in the collection were created to publicize the ships in local media. CalShip Log, a bi-weekly magazine for employees was published by the firm from September 1941 to September 1945.

Biographical Notes: California Shipbuilding Corporation was created by the United States Maritime Commission as an emergency shipyard to build cargo and transport ships for World War II. The shipyard, built in January 1941, was located on Terminal Island, near Long Beach and San Pedro, California. The first ship was launched later that year on September 27th. Each completed ship was launched with pomp and circumstance. Each ship had a sponsor who christened the ship by breaking a champagne bottle over the bow. The sponsors ranged from employees to contest winners to film and radio stars.

The photographic collection includes a range of images and subjects: employees, managers and personnel, events, guests, sponsors, ship launches, ships underway, ships construction, and aerial photographs of the shipyard were featured. The photographic prints are 5” x 7” and form the bulk of the collection. Additionally, prints in large format (8” x 10” up to 16” x 20”) include thematic groups of images selected to illustrate company history and ships underway. Graphic posters were created to urge employees to maintain and use good on-the-job habits–a campaign to make CalShip a safe place to work.

Highlights include portraits of women whose acquired skills were once considered the domain of men, such as arc welding, portraits of sponsors, and those of managers, lend a personal side to the collection.

A selection of images from this collection can be viewed on this website at Online Exhibits.

Copyright Notice: Copyright restrictions may apply. See the copyright notice here.

Request Library Appointment: To view the collection in person, please make an appointment online.

William A. Bergstrom Engineering Collection of California Shipbuilding Corporation

i May 22nd No Comments by

Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library Collection 1

Image of construction worker standing above steam winch.

California Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard construction worker guiding head block and boom in Liberty and Victory ship construction circa 1941.

Shipbuilding and engineering together form the science of ship design and the skills required in ship construction. Challenges include the design aspects of stability, strength, speed, buoyancy, rolling, and trim. Engineers practice this science with an array of tools and a knowledge of physics, materials, and the properties of water.

Description: The William A. Bergstrom Collection is a collection of photographic prints, documents and training manuals that pertain to engineering and shipbuilding at the California Shipbuilding Corporation during World War II. The collection offers a glimpse of twentieth century building standards and innovation. Prints depict a range of subjects from model ship to full size construction, displaying both prototypical designs and hull and engine construction phases. The collection also contains training manuals used for employees of the corporation.

Biographical Notes: William Bergstrom was trained at California Shipbuilding Corporation by his father-in-law, Cyril Hubert, a chief engineer. Bergstrom became Chief Loftsman (the supervisor in charge of making full-size templates of ship parts) and coordinated all training in the loft (a large open area which can accommodate the full-size plans of a ship). After World War II, the shipyard closed and Bergstrom and Hubert worked at MGM Studios building sets. Later Bergstrom founded the “Vent-a-Hood” company in Buena Park, California.

A selection of images from this collection can be viewed at online exhibits.

Copyright Notice: Copyright restrictions may apply. See the copyright notice here.

Request Library Appointment: To view the collection in person, please make an appointment online.