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A guide to the Arthur J. Thompson photographs, 1939-1973
P95-012 (SAFR 22584)  
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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: Arthur J. Thompson photographs
    Date: 1939-1973
    Date (bulk): 1958-1963
    Identifier/Call Number: P95-012 (SAFR 22584)
    Creator: Thompson, Arthur J.
    Physical Description: 4600 items. Some items available online.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Arthur J. Thompson photographs, 1939-1973, bulk 1958-1963, (SAFR 22584, P95-012) consists of 4,600 photographs (5.25 linear feet) of domestic and foreign vessels, military and merchant, primarily in the San Francisco Bay, but also including other locations, and Thompson's detailed field notes and index of his photographic material. The collection is processed at the file unit level with some items listed.
    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. Digital use-copies can be provided.

    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

    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.
    Note on Processing This collection is the combination of two different accruals, both from Mrs. Lawson. The first collection (SAFR-00875) was accessioned as the Arthur Thompson and Thomas E. Mohler Photographs, and the second (SAFR-01098) was accessioned as the Arthur Thompson Photographs. Using Thompson's index cards associated with the material, through identifying corresponding prints and negatives, and from the information received from Mrs. Lawson, it appears as though the work is primarily that of Thompson, and not Mohler, who is said to have occasionally taken photographs with Thompson. For that reason, the acquisitions have been processed together and the collection has been named the Arthur J. Thompson photographs. It has been noted which items are from the Thompson/Mohler acquisition. There is no certain way of identifying which photographs Mohler may have taken, except for the few items noted in Arthur's field notes or the slide with "TOM" written on the back.
    Not all of the slides, negatives or prints have associated images in the other formats; therefore, slides, negatives, and prints need to be consulted to view all of the images.
    Note on Description Subseries and File Unit names are those given to the material by Thompson, where noted. Thompson had labeled negative boxes and created hand-written tabs to separate his different categories of slides. These original categories were retained in naming file units, and in some cases subseries.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], P95-012 (SAFR 22584), Arthur J. Thompson photographs, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    SAFR-00875
    SAFR-01098
    The Arthur Thompson Photograph Collection is the combination of two acquisitions, both gifts of Martha R. Lawson and Richard J. Lawson. Mrs. Lawson was a friend of Thomas E. Mohler Jr.'s late widow. Mrs. Lawson inherited the late Mrs. Mohler's house, and in this house the Lawsons found Arthur Thompson's photographs.
    SAFR-00875 was accessioned on March 15, 1995. It contained color slides, black-and-white negatives and photographic prints.
    SAFR-01098 was accessioned on September 6, 1996. It contained slides; photographs; articles, documents, newspaper clippings and posters; 4 vessel plans; and two reference books. The non-photographic material was either culled or transferred to the library.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    Arthur J. Thompson was a WWII veteran and marine photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area mainly during the 1950s-1970s. He primarily took photographs of merchant vessels in the San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge and several piers in San Francisco.
    Thompson worked for PG & E, possibly in the Department of Engineering and Drafting. He was enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWII, and stationed somewhere near Italy. Thompson organized his practice of photographing vessels under the name "Art's Marine Photography," located at 425 Second Ave., in the Richmond District of San Francisco. It is not known if this was a commercial business. Thompson was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Mainline Railroad Camera Club in San Francisco. Arthur J. Thompson died in 1979 or 1980, at approximately 76 years old.
    Thomas E. Mohler and Arthur J. Thompson were friends who attended Poly Technical High School in San Francisco during the early 1930s. The school was near Kezar stadium and they both took mechanical drawing classes in the evening at Galileo High School.
    Thomas E. Mohler Jr. (October 18, 1914 - November 1, 1984) was the son of Thomas Mohler and Mary (Marshal) Mohler. He had one sister, Harriet, born in 1906. He graduated from Poly Technical High School in the spring of 1933. The following December, a general contractor's license was issued to Thomas Mohler at 626 36th Ave, in the Richmond District of San Francisco. He focused on residential construction and retired early. On December 18, 1964, he married Emma M. DeCoux in San Mateo County. His last known residence was in the Richmond District.
    Sources: Martha R. Lawson, donor: Mrs. Lawson was a friend of Thomas Mohler's widow. Mrs. Lawson inherited the Mohler home at 626 36th Ave upon Mrs. Mohler's death. Material from both accruals was found in the residence. Mrs. Lawson provided information regarding Thompson's photography as well as the relationship between Thompson and Mohler at the time of accrual as well as in a phone interview with San Francisco Maritime archives staff in 1996.
    "1930 United States Federal Census: Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 203; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 252; Image: 1029.0." Ancestry.com. Accessed October 3, 2011, from http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1930usfedcen&h=92413073&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=6061
    "Polytechnic High School Class of Spring 1933". San Francisco Genealogy. Accessed on October 3, 2011, from http://www.sfgenealogy.com/sf/schools/polysp33g.htm
    "Contractor's License Detail - License # 27974." Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractor State License Board. Accessed on October 3, 2011, from https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/LicenseDetail.aspx?LicNum=27974

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Arthur J. Thompson photographs, 1939-1973, bulk 1958-1963, (SAFR 22584, P95-012) consists of 4,600 photographs (5.25 linear feet) of domestic and foreign vessels, military and merchant, primarily in the San Francisco Bay, but also including other locations, and Thompson's detailed field notes and index of his photographic material. The collection is processed at the file unit level with some items listed.
    The collection contains black-and-white negatives and prints, color negatives and prints, and color slides. The images document marine traffic seen in the San Francisco Bay Area during this time period. Thompson's notes and indexes reflect his process of documenting these vessels. According to the donor Mrs. Lawson, Thompson took most of the photographs. Thompson and Mohler seemed to have favored 4-5 particular locations for photographing vessels (mostly freighters): the Golden Gate Bridge, the Municipal Pier, and other piers around San Francisco. The photographs were predominantly taken of vessels in the San Francisco Bay. Other locations of photographs include: Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania; the Great Lakes Region; Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Mystic, Connecticut; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; Richmond, California; Rocky Point, Palos Verdes, California; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; Scituate, Massachusetts; Stewart's Point, California; Stockton, California; and a Willamette River dock, in Oregon.

    Collection Arrangement

    Arranged into the following six series:

    • Series 1: Reference Notes, circa 1959-1963
    • Series 2: Merchant Vessels, 1947-1965 (bulk 1954-1963)
    • Series 3: Government Vessels, 1952-1965 (bulk 1957-1963)
    • Series 4: Miscellaneous Vessels, 1948 July-1973 May (bulk 1954-1963)
    • Series 5: Prints and Negatives, 1939-1963 (bulk 1958-1963)
    • Series 6: Other Photographers, circa 1950s-1960s (bulk 1956-1963)

    Related Materials

    Arthur J. Thompson marine architectural drawings, 1936-1942 (HDC1103, SAFR 17304)
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Coastwise shipping--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Shipping--Pacific Coast (North America)--History--Pictorial works
    Merchant ships--United States--History--20th century
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)--Harbor
    Ships--California--San Francisco--Pictorial works
    Photograph collections--California--San Francisco
    Marine photography
    Photography of ships
    Government vessels--United States
    Thompson, Arthur J.
    Mohler, Thomas E. (1914-1984)
    Pacific Coast (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
    Black-and-white negatives
    Black-and-white prints
    Color negatives
    Color prints (photographs)
    Color slides
    Cellulous nitrate film