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A guide to the Robert S. Benner photographs of boatswains' whistles, 1976-1995
P76-082L (SAFR 23340)  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement

  • Title: Robert S. Benner photographs of boatswains' whistles
    Date: 1976-1995
    Identifier/Call Number: P76-082L (SAFR 23340)
    Photographer: Benner, Robert S.
    Physical Description: 718 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Robert S. Benner photographs of boatswains' whistles, 1976-1995, (SAFR 23340, P76-082L) are comprised of 712 photographic prints and 6 inventories of photographs of boatswains' whistles in the donor's personal collection. The collection has been processed to the series level and is open for use without restrictions.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.


    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.

    Publication and Use Rights

    Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

    Processing Note

    Robert S. Benner donated the photographs in this collection in 11 installments over the years 1976-1995. Many of these accruals were cataloged and described as separate collections over the years. These accruals have been recataloged and incorporated into this collection (SAFR 23340, P76-082) since the provenance for all of the accruals was the same. By forming one large cohesive collection rather than many disparate ones, it more easily illustrates the breadth and scope of the whistles that Benner collected and better represents his complete physical collection.
    Each accrual has been placed into a series. The series are in chronological order of when we received each group of photographs. Every photograph and inventory has been assigned an item number (from 1 to 718). These numbers reflect the physical number of items in the collection, and are unrelated to Benner's inventory numbers (Benner's inventory numbers can be found in the title field).
    P77-024 (SAFR- 00001, GOGA-00789); P78-426 (SAFR- 00001, GOGA-00789, SAFR 19468); P82-077 (SAFR-00001, GOGA-00789, SAFR 18423); P84-045 (SAFR-00001, GOGA-00789, SAFR 13876); P84-111 (SAFR-00001, GOGA-00789, SAFR 14321); P85-126 (SAFR-00001, GOGA-00913, SAFR 17018); P88-081 (SAFR-00002, SAFR 1); P01-007 (SAFR-00110, SAFR 19632); SAFR-00784; SAFR-00939 have been incorporated into the collection P76-082 (SAFR 23340).
    Note on Description: The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide.
    Please cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], P76-082L (SAFR 23340), Robert S. Benner photographs of boatswains' whistles, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    GOGA-00789, GOGA-00913, SAFR-00002, SAFR-00110, SAFR-00784, SAFR-00939
    Robert S. Benner donated photographs of his boatswains' whistle collection in 11 accessions from 1976-1995. The photographs show the left views of the boatswains' whistles in his collection. He donated photographs of the right views to the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA, and left and right views to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    Biography: Robert S. Benner lived in Los Angeles with his wife Carol Joyce Benner, whom he married in 1947. They were married for 63 years until her death on July 6, 2010. They had two children named Ray Benner and K.C. Boelsems. There is a boatswain whistle in this collection that has the inscription: "LT. ROBERT S. BENNER USNR 440326 WORLD WAR II-KOREA". This is presumably the donor's name and U.S. Naval Reserve number, but this could not be confirmed.
    Definition of a boatswain and boatswain whistle: A boatswain is the officer of a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen and is in charge of the sails, rigging, anchors, cables and all work on deck of a sailing ship. Historically, a boatswain would use a whistle to give orders throughout a ship, but they are now used mostly for ceremonial purposes. There are many alternate spellings of boatswains' whistles (sometimes referred to as boatswains' calls or boatswains' pipes) which include: bosun, bo's'n, and bos'n. The Art & Architecture Thesaurus definition of a boatswains' whistle: Metal whistles traditionally used on ships by boatswain's mates to relay orders or to pipe senior naval officers aboard; they were grasped in the hand when blown, the pitch rising or falling as the hand was opened or closed.

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Robert S. Benner photographs of boatswains' whistles, 1976-1995, (SAFR 23340, P76-082L) are comprised of 712 photographic prints and 6 inventories of photographs of boatswains' whistles in the donor's personal collection. The collection has been processed to the series level and is open for use without restrictions.
    This collection contains black-and-white and color photographs of boatswains' whistles that Robert S. Benner collected from 1969-1995. Benner assigned each of his whistles a unique number in his inventory. The photographs in this collection show the left side of each whistle, its inventory number and a ruler in the shot.
    This collection also contains his inventories and they include information about the whistles such as when they were obtained by Benner, the gun type, shackle, keel, buoy, type of metal, the country of manufacture, and the maker. Countries of manufacture include the United States, Asia (Benner uses the word "Orient" sometimes), China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. Dates (when known) that the whistles were manufactured range from 1772-1981. Some of the boatswain whistle makers include AB; A.E.C.; AS; BA; BAC; Peter, Ann & William Bateman; BA; A. Cole; D&F; EJH/NH; Gemsco; G U; Gorham; H&T; HC RC; Hudson; J Hudson & Co.; Nauticalia; R&B; Sammv; SR CB; TW; and Yapp & Woodward.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged into 11 series. Each series represents an accrual from the donor and the series are arranged in the order that the accruals were received, starting with 1976 and ending with 1995. The photographs in each series are in original order (numerical by Benner's inventory number).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Boatswains' whistles
    United States. Navy. Boatswains
    Black-and-white prints
    Color prints (photographs)