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A guide to the Hanscom photograph collection, circa 1880-1910
P79-064a (SAFR 19542)  
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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
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Hanscom photograph collection
    Date: circa 1880-1910
    Date (bulk): 1889-1895
    Identifier/Call Number: P79-064a (SAFR 19542)
    Creator: Hanscom, William Wallace (1869-1956)
    Physical Description: 387 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Hanscom photograph collection, circa 1880-1910, bulk 1889-1895, (SAFR 19542, P79-064a) is mainly comprised of photographs of Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, showing shipyard activities, vessels, and stationary engines. The collection has been processed to the File Unit level with some Items listed, and is open for use.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.

    Access

    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.
    Nitrate negatives are restricted from use. Use-copies can be provided. Glass plate negatives may require special handling by the reference staff.

    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

    During processing in 2013, many errors and inconsistencies were found. The Processing Archivist discovered that many photographs from a 1957 donation were split into multiple collections: some assigning provenance to the wrong person and some without any provenance information listed at all. These photographs were reunited into this collection in 2013, restoring original provenance. They have been described in six separate File Units to more easily explain what happened with each group of photographs. The Processing Archivist also discovered that 3 nitrate negatives did not belong with this collection (see File Unit 1 description below for more information).
    File Unit 1: The photographs in File Unit 1 were originally donated by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 219/11 through 219/19). These nitrate negatives were formally accessioned into P79-064a on April 26, 1979, and were assigned Item numbers 1-13 at this time.
    At some point in time between 1956 and the 1980s, 3 nitrate negatives were mistakenly added to this collection and given the Item numbers 14-16. They were described as the following: Item 14: Unidentified 4-masted schooner at wharf in unidentified channel, bow view, circa 1880-1910. Item 15: CASPAR (steam schooner) underway in Caspar, California, stern view, circa 1880-1910. Item 16: Unidentified passenger vessel (troop transport?) docked, view off starboard bow, circa 1910-1920.
    In the 1980s, SAFR staff created contact interpositives and copy negatives for nitrate negatives 1-5 and 7-16.
    During processing in February 2013, it was discovered that the 3 nitrate negatives given the Item numbers 14-16 did not belong with the collection. In addition to the fact that the number of negatives did not match the accession paperwork, the subject matter of Items 14-16 did not match the original accession inventory at all. One of them (previously given Item number 15) had "Gift of Dr. Elliott Evans in October 1967" written on the envelope; this photograph actually belongs to the collection P78-064a, and was returned to this collection in February 2013; it has been assigned the number P78-064a.6. The photographs previously given the Item numbers 14 and 16 have been cataloged as P13-001 (SAFR 23358) for the time being, until their appropriate collection(s) can be found and they can be returned to them.
    Each of the nitrate negatives has been assigned an Item number by previous SAFR staff (1-13) and it is unknown if this reflects the original order; there are multiple physical forms of each of these images (e.g. the original nitrate negative, a contact interpositive, and a copy negative), and this has been noted in the physical description field.
    File Unit 2: The photograph album in File Unit 2 was originally donated by W.W. Hanscom and Russel Hanscom on November 20, 1956 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 211/2 through 212/5). This album was formally accessioned into P79-064a on April 26, 1979. The photographs in the album were assigned Item numbers by SAFR staff in March 2013.
    The images in the photograph album have been numbered starting with Item 14. Pages 1-2 are missing. Pages 4, 22-23, 58, 142-143, 154-155, 204, 218-350 are blank. There is a page in the beginning of the album that says: "about late '80s to 1910. All Union Iron Works except p. 7-28 - Mare Island and p. 33 - Risdon Iron Works. Many photos of USS OREGON, USS OLYMPIA, Stationary engines - Hoist engines, pumping engines, generating engines. Also SS PERU, USS MONTEREY, a lightship."
    There are two photographs missing from the album that were previously attached to the pages; it is unknown if they were missing when the album was originally received by the San Francisco Maritime Museum in 1956. Missing photographs: one from page 58 ("NH# 75000" written next to area where photograph used to be attached - it is unknown what the topic of the photograph is) and one from page 204 (caption below missing photograph says: "U.S.S. Ohio, May 18, 1901. President McKinley [illegible] at launching table"). It appears that the missing photograph on page 58 might be P87-020.1 - OREGON (built 1893; battleship: U.S. Navy) in drydock at Hunters Point, California, August 12, 1894 (the glue marks on the album page and on the back of the print match up).
    File Unit 3: The photographs in File Unit 3 were originally donated by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 219/4 through 220/15). At some point they were separated from the other photographs that came in at this time, and were erroneously cataloged as the George Hanscom photograph collection (P80-041a, no catalog number) donated by Charles Loring. This error was discovered and rectified in March 2013 and the photographs were returned to this collection (P79-064a) at this time.
    Each photograph previously included in P80-041a could be matched to the initial inventory in the SFMM Accession Ledger for the W.W. Hanscom donation in 1957. Additionally, to further confirm that the photographs were from W.W. Hanscom, many of the photographs previously included in P80-041a could also be found in the photograph album (in File Unit 2). The SFMNHP does hold some George Hanscom photographs donated by Charles Loring, but they are primarily of lighthouses and Mare Island; they can be found in the SFMNHP Classified photograph collection and in P88-049 (SAFR 17946).
    File Unit 4: The photograph in File Unit 4 was originally donated by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 220/14). It was previously cataloged as P89-014 (SAFR 18917). This photograph has been moved into P79-064a, and kept as a separate File Unit.
    File Unit 5: The photographs in File Unit 5 were originally donated by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 219/4 through 220/10). They were cataloged as part of the SFMNHP Classified collection, and some did not mention the provenance at all. These Classified photographs have been moved into P79-064a, and kept as a separate File Unit.
    File Unit 6: The photographs in File Unit 6 were originally donated by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 220/4). They were cataloged as part of the collection titled "Photographs, 1871-1960" (P79-079, SAFR 15218) which is an artificial collection created by SAFR staff of Items from unknown donors. These photographs have been moved into P79-064a, and kept as a separate File Unit.
    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], P79-064a (SAFR 19542), Hanscom photograph collection, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    SAFR-00001
    GOGA-00789
    SAFR-00001, GOGA-00789: This photograph collection was donated by W.W. and Russel Hanscom to the San Francisco Maritime Museum on November 20, 1956 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 211/2 through 212/5) and by W.W. Hanscom on March 19, 1957 (see SFMM Accession Ledger, 219/1 through 220/16).
    Of the materials donated in 1956 and 1957, 1 photograph album and 13 black-and-white nitrate negatives were formally accessioned as P79-064a on April 26, 1979, and cataloged with the number scr 50. The other materials were given other collection numbers at later dates, but were reunited with this collection in March 2013. See the processing notes for more detail.
    These photographs were likely those of W.W. Hanscom (December 4, 1869-November 9, 1956), since he worked for Union Iron Works and his sons donated the photograph collection soon after his death. However, since it could not be confirmed that these photographs once belonged to W.W. Hanscom, the collection is just named the Hanscom collection, since the donors were Hanscoms as well.
    SAFR-00001 is a blanket accession that was transferred from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in September 1988. GGNRA had previously acquired the collection from the San Francisco Maritime Museum when it became a unit of the National Park Service in 1977.
    GOGA-00789 was transferred from the J. Porter Shaw Library to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in February 1985.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    W.W. Hanscom (1869-1956) was a draftsman and electrical engineer, who was employed by Union Iron Works for over 20 years. He was the son of W.W. Hanscom (born 1840), who was one of the leading mechanical engineers of California in the late 19th century and a pioneer in early steam engine development.
    William Wallace Hanscom was born on December 4, 1869 in California to W.W. Hanscom (born 1840 in Maine) and Abbie P. Dodge Hanscom (born 1841 in Massachusetts). His parents were married in New Hampshire on April 22, 1862. William Wallace had a younger sister named Lilian Hanscom (August 8, 1872-March 30, 1948). His father W.W. Hanscom was one of the leading mechanical engineers of California (Electrical Engineers, 540).
    William Wallace Hanscom went to public and private schools in San Francisco, California. He left high school in 1883 and began a mechanical engineering course in the National Iron Works of San Francisco. He spent three years in the foundry, pattern and machine shops. In 1886, he became interested in electricity, built some telegraph instruments and constructed a social telegraph line which grew to have forty members (Electrical Engineers, 540). Hanscom sought out more experience with electricity and was placed in charge of the electric light plant of Union Iron Works.
    Starting around 1886, Hanscom then spent two more years as an apprentice in the machine shop at Union Iron Works, where he was appointed as assistant to the mechanical engineering superintendent. This position lasted until the summer of 1890, when he became assistant draftsman to the engineering chief.
    He advanced steadily during his more than twenty years of service with Union Iron Works, becoming a draftsman, electrical engineer, and then chief electrical engineer. While chief electrical engineer, he installed electrical equipment on U.S. Navy and merchant marine vessels, starting with CHARLESTON (built 1888; cruiser: U.S. Navy) and including OLYMPIA (built 1892; cruiser: U.S. Navy), OREGON (built 1893; battleship: U.S. Navy), MARIETTA (built 1897; gunboat: U.S. Navy), FARRAGUT (built 1898; torpedo boat: U.S. Navy), WISCONSIN (built 1898; battleship: U.S. Navy) and HANCOCK (built 1879; transport: U.S. Army).
    In 1906, he became the general superintendent of the Century Electric Construction Co. of San Francisco (Electrical World, 350).
    William married Susie Richards Hanscom between 1900 and 1910. Susie was born in 1876 or 1877, died between 1925 and 1930, and her mother was Annie A. Richards (Canadian). William and Susie had two sons: William W. Hanscom Jr. (born 1911; was a pharmacist in 1940) and Russel C. Hanscom (March 25, 1913-June 15, 2011; was an automobile mechanic in 1940).
    W.W. Hanscom died on November 9, 1956, at the age of 86.

    Sources:

    • California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. Retrieved on January 31, 2013, from Ancestry.com
    • New Hampshire, Marriage Records Index, 1637-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. Retrieved on January 31, 2013, from Ancestry.com
    • Unknown author. Electrical Engineers of the Day - XXXIX: W.W. Hanscom. Electrical World and Engineer, Volume XXXIX, No. 13, March 29, 1902.
    • Unknown author. Personal. Electrical World: A review of current progress in electricity and its practical applications. Volume XLVIII, No. 7. July 7 to December 29, 1906. New York: Electrical World.

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Hanscom photograph collection, circa 1880-1910, bulk 1889-1895, (SAFR 19542, P79-064a) is mainly comprised of photographs of Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, showing shipyard activities, vessels, and stationary engines. The collection has been processed to the File Unit level with some Items listed, and is open for use.
    Contains photographs of Union Iron Works, Risdon Iron Works, and Mare Island Navy Yard, all of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. None of the photographer(s) names are known. There are 342 unique photographic images in 385 physical forms (285 cyanotypes, 28 black-and-white photographic prints, 12 lantern slides, 6 glass plate negatives, 13 nitrate negatives, 16 contact interpositives, 25 copy negatives) and 2 paper documents.
    The photographs in this collection primarily show Union Iron Works activities in the 1890s-1900s, including various vessels under construction, launching, at dock, under repair, and underway. Some of the photographs show men working on the vessels and posing in front of them. There are many photos of OLYMPIA (built 1892; cruiser: U.S. Navy) and OREGON (built 1893; battleship: U.S. Navy). There are a few photographs of Mare Island Navy Yard, Risdon Iron Works, and recreational events. The collection also includes photographs of stationary engines - hoisting engines, pumping engines, and generating engines.

    Collection Arrangement

    The collection is described in one Series, which is arranged into five File Units: File Unit 1: Nitrate negatives; File Unit 2: Photograph album; File Unit 3: Vessels at Union Iron Works; File Unit 4: Oregon (built 1893; battleship: U.S. Navy); File Unit 5: Union Iron Works vessels and main engines; File Unit 6: Union Iron Works main engines.
    File Units 1 and 2 contain photographs that were originally accessioned as P79-064a. File Units 3-6 each contain photographs that previously had different collection numbers, but were moved to this collection during processing in March 2013 because they were all part of the same original accession in 1957.

    Related Materials

    Related photograph collection: John T. Scott photograph collection, 1856-1923. SFMNHP, (SAFR 23362, P79-072a). Some of the loose cyanotypes in P79-072a are the same photographic image as some of the photographs in the photograph album in this collection (P79-064a). For example, the photograph on page 201 of the album in P79-064a (Item 276) is the same image as P79-072a.073. The Processing Archivist did not try to match photographs in each collection, but it should be noted that there are some of the same images in both collections.
    Related manuscript collection: William Wallace Hanscom papers, circa 1887-1920s. SFMNHP, (SAFR 16121, HDC 131). Consists largely of scrapbooks and notebooks, but also includes some trade catalogs and oversize naval architecture and marine engineering plans. The research strength is largely in the area of technical aspects of turn of the century iron and steel shipbuilding, but information on a few San Francisco building projects of the 1920s can also be found in the collection.
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Shipbuilding
    Shipbuilding--California--San Francisco
    Shipbuilding--History--19th century
    Shipbuilding--History--20th century
    Shipyards--California--San Francisco
    Steam engines
    Gas engines
    Marine engines--Design and construction
    Marine machinery
    Pumping machinery
    Government vessels--United States
    Hanscom, W.W. (1869-1956)
    Union Iron Works Co.
    Mare Island Naval Shipyard
    Charleston (Cruiser)
    Columbia River No. 50 (built 1892; lightship)
    Olympia (Cruiser)
    Oregon (Battleship)
    San Francisco (built 1889; cruiser: U.S. Navy)
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)--Harbor
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    Harbors--California--San Francisco
    Harbors--California--San Francisco Bay
    Mare Island Naval Shipyard
    Photograph albums
    Cyanotypes (photographic prints)
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Blueline prints
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Interpositives
    Black-and-white negatives