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A guide to the Moore Dry Dock Company photographs, 1878-1933
P79-083a (SAFR 23368)  
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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: Moore Dry Dock Company photographs
    Date: 1878-1933
    Date (bulk): 1917-1926
    Identifier/Call Number: P79-083a (SAFR 23368)
    Collector: Muhlmann, Walter A.

    Gabriel Moulin Studios, photographer
    Physical Description: 880 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Moore Dry Dock Company photographs, 1878-1933, bulk 1917-1926, (SAFR 23368, P79-083a), are comprised mainly of photographs documenting the construction of steamships at Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company in San Francisco and Oakland, California. The collection has been processed to the Item level and is open for use.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.


    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

    Each photographic image has been assigned an Item number. There are often multiple physical forms of each image (e.g. a nitrate negative, a preservation contact interpositive, and a preservation copy negative) which has been noted in the physical description field.
    The original order of the photographs does not appear to have been maintained. At some point the nitrate negatives were given Item numbers, possibly in order of their densitometry reading when preservation interpositives and copy negatives were made from the nitrate negatives in the 1980s. The glass negatives were roughly arranged by plate size and vessel name. When processed in 2013, the Archivist kept the assigned Item numbers, but intellectually arranged the photographs into Series and File Units in an attempt to reunite photographs with similar content.
    The 1979 accession form notes that the collection originally contained 309 glass plate negatives, 161 nitrate negatives and 3 prints, for a total of 473 Items. Of the nitrate negatives, 47 were supposedly discarded in August 1980 (according to a note made by JM). According to the paperwork, nitrate Item numbers 089-162 and 164-184 were duplicated and preservation contact interpositives and copy negatives were made. Although not documented, Items 001-088 were duplicated as well. Three copy prints were also made by staff. The date on which additional preservation copies were made from the glass negatives has been noted at the Item level when known. As of May 2013, the processing archivist found 315 glass plate negatives, 180 nitrate negatives, 192 contact interpositives, 186 preservation copy negatives, and 7 photographic prints in the collection.
    The following nitrate negatives were found in the Nitrate Discard Box in March 2013: Items 001, 052, and 090. On August 2, 2013, it was determined that these Items did not require destruction, and they were returned to the regular Nitrate Storage.
    Item 184 was mistakenly assigned to two different images; "A" and "B" were added to this Item number to differentiate the two photographs.
    No physical items could be found for Item numbers 163 and 371 as of August 2013. It is uncertain if physical items existed for these numbers or if a mistake in numbering was made.
    Description Notes: Dates refer to when the original photograph was taken.
    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], P79-083a (SAFR 23368), Moore Dry Dock Company photographs, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    Walter A. Muhlmann donated this collection to the San Francisco Maritime Museum on August 28, 1962 (See SFMM 319/3). It was formally accessioned on May 19, 1979, as the Moore Dry Dock Collection. The collection name was changed to "Moore Dry Dock Company photographs" during processing in 2013.
    Walter Albert Muhlmann was born on August 30, 1897, in California to Anna Grummann Muhlmann (born 1866) and Albert Muhlmann (born November 1861). Walter was a stationary salesman and worked for the Cardinell-Vincent Company. He was listed as treasurer of the company in a 1922 article in American Stationer and Office Manager (Volume 91). Walter died in Marin, California, on September 14, 1969. It is unclear what his connection was (if any) to Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and/or Moore Dry Dock Company. (Note: Muhlmann's name is often seen misspelled as "Muhlman," "Mahlmann," and "Muhlmen.")
    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

    Moore & Scott Iron Works (later known as Moore Shipbuilding Company, followed by Moore Dry Dock Company): Moore & Scott Iron Works was founded in the Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco, California in 1905 by Robert S. Moore, his younger brother Joseph A. Moore, and John Thomas Scott. John T. Scott was the nephew of Henry T. Scott and Irving M. Scott, the owners of the nearby Union Iron Works, where John had apprenticed (Knave).
    As Moore & Scott Iron Works' business grew, they needed to find larger facilities. In 1909, the company moved to the foot of Adeline Street in Oakland, California, with the purchase of W.A. Boole and Son shipyard. Scott eventually sold his interests in Moore & Scott Iron Works to the Moore family in 1917 (Moore, 10; Important shipbuilding deal, 50; The Moore & Scott Iron Works Becomes the Moore Shipbuilding Company, 370). However, it is unclear when the company officially adopted the name Moore Shipbuilding Company. James R. Moore (10) states that the name change occurred in January 1918, and a March 1918 Pacific Marine Review article discusses the renamed Moore Shipbuilding Company (Expansion of the Moore Shipbuilding Company, 77); however, readers will still find references to Moore & Scott Iron Works in later 1918 issues of Pacific Marine Review and International Marine Engineering.
    During World War I, business boomed with the increased demand for new ships. As shipbuilding demands declined after the war, Moore Shipbuilding Company shifted their focus to ship repairs and steel production. To reflect this shift, the company changed their name to Moore Dry Dock Company in 1922, but World War II brought them back into the shipbuilding business.
    "Moore Dry Dock Co. was the largest shipbuilding yard on the Estuary. During the shipbuilding booms of the war years, Moore Dry Dock employed thousands of workers and built over 200 ships between 1909 and 1961. Besides construction of ships, Moore Dry Dock provided structural steel for many notable buildings and the caissons for the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Moore Dry Dock also built both the Park St. Bridge (1934-1935) and the High St. Bridge (1938-1939) between Oakland and Alameda" (Cooper).
    After World War II, the company once again faced a decrease in demand for their products and services and increased competition. Moore Dry Dock Company ceased operations in 1961 and was sold to Flug and Strassler, which was subsequently sold to Schnitzer Steel, an American steel manufacturing company headquartered in Portland, Oregon.
    Written by L. Bianchi and Amy Croft, 2013.


    • Cooper, Deborah. 1996. "Moore Dry Dock Co. Becomes Schnitzer Steel." From the "Walk Along the Water, Oakland's Dynamic Waterfront" exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, October 5, 1996-May 4, 1997. Retrieved on February 4, 2013 from http://www.waterfrontaction.org/history/50.htm
    • Moore, James R. The Story of Moore Dry Dock Company: A Picture History. Sausalito, Calif.: Windgate Press, 1994.
    • San Francisco Maritime staff. Front matter in finding aid for Moore Dry Dock Company ships plans collection (SAFR 20962, HDC 1065).
    • Unknown author. "Knave" section of the Oakland Tribune. Sunday December 3, 1961.
    • Unknown author. "The Moore Shipbuilding Company." Pacific Marine Review. Seattle, Wash: Pacific Marine Review Pub. Co, 1920 July. Page 59.Unknown author. "Expansion of the Moore Shipbuilding Company." Pacific Marine Review, March 1918. Page 77.
    • Unknown author. "Important shipbuilding deal." Pacific Marine Review, July 1917. Page 50.
    • Unknown author. "The Moore & Scott Iron Works Becomes the Moore Shipbuilding Company." International Marine Engineering, August 1917. Page 370.

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Moore Dry Dock Company photographs, 1878-1933, bulk 1917-1926, (SAFR 23368, P79-083a), are comprised mainly of photographs documenting the construction of steamships at Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company in San Francisco and Oakland, California. The collection has been processed to the Item level and is open for use.
    Contains photographs primarily showing shipbuilding activities, ship launchings, and ship repairs at Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company, 1878-1933, bulk 1917-1926, as photographed by Gabriel Moulin Studios. There are 500 unique photographic images in 880 physical forms (315 glass plate negatives, 180 nitrate negatives, 192 contact interpositives, 186 preservation copy negatives, and 7 photographic prints).
    The photographs show steamships in various stages of completion, from keel laying to launching and outfitting. Some trial trips are documented as well. Portrait photographs capture some of the sponsors and launching parties on vessel launching days. The vessels in the collection include CAPTO (built 1916; freighter), LUBRICO (built 1921; tanker), PERALTA (built 1926; ferry), TAMIAHUA (built 1921; tanker), THOMAS H. WHEELER (built 1920; tanker), THORDIS (built 1917; freighter), TUCKANUCK (built 1919; freighter), TUSTEM (built 1921; tanker), VACUUM (built 1920; tanker), WILHELMINA (built 1909; passenger vessel), YELLOWSTONE (built 1918; freighter), and YERBA BUENA (built 1926; ferry), among others. Several of the vessels in this collection were constructed for or requisitioned by the United States Shipping Board between 1917 and 1922. There are also photographs of vessels not built by Moore that were in drydock for repairs. In addition to shipbuilding, the photographs show general shipyard scenes, including waterfront views, slips, machinery and equipment. A few photographs document San Francisco Bay Area construction projects related to the Dumbarton Bridge in 1925 and the Webster Street Bridge in 1926. There are three formal portraits of employees from 1921-1932, and shipyard employees can also often be seen at work in the vessel construction photographs.
    Another group of photographs consists of buildings containing architectural elements created by the ceramic manufacturer Gladding, McBean & Company of Lincoln, California, circa 1910-1925; these photographs appear to be unrelated to Moore. Three photographs show machinery built by Prescott, Scott & Company of San Francisco installed at an unidentified mining site.

    Collection Arrangement

    The collection is physically arranged and accessed in Item number order, which reflects a numbering scheme imposed by previous SFMNHP staff. The collection's original order is unknown. To provide greater context and reunite similar images, the collection has been intellectually arranged and described into the following Series and Subseries:

    Series List:

    • Series 1. Vessels
    • Subseries 1.1. Moore & Scott Iron Works
    • Subseries 1.2. Moore Shipbuilding Company
    • Subseries 1.3. Moore Dry Dock Company
    • Series 2. Shipyard scenes, projects, and employees
    • Series 3. Gladding, McBean & Company and miscellaneous locations
    Series 1 is arranged into three Subseries, one for each variation of the company's name during its existence. Vessels have been placed into these Subseries based on when they were launched. For example, if Moore Shipbuilding Company began building a vessel but the vessel was launched after the company's name changed to Moore Dry Dock Company, the vessel was included in the Subseries for Moore Dry Dock Company. Note that the exact date that Moore & Scott Iron Works became Moore Shipbuilding Company is unclear. Based on James R. Moore's statement in The Story of Moore Dry Dock Company: A Picture History (Sausalito, Calif.: Windgate Press, 1994) that the name changed in January 1918, vessels launched in January 1918 or earlier were placed in the Moore & Scott Iron Works Subseries. Subseries 1.1 - 1.3 are further arranged into File Units by vessel name, arranged alphabetically.
    Series 2 includes general Moore shipyard scenes, including views of the waterfront, buildings, yard, and slips. Also includes machinery and equipment, bridge construction projects, and employee portraits.
    Series 3 includes photographs related to Gladding, McBean & Company as well as other miscellaneous locations, apparently unrelated to Moore.

    Related Materials

    Related photograph collections: Moore Shipbuilding Company Collection, circa 1916-1926, (SAFR 00045, P81-005a). Consists of 4903 glass plate negatives, nitrate negatives, and preservation copies showing Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company shipbuilding scenes, launching ceremonies, shipyard machinery, and off-site construction projects. None of the images in P81-005a match the images in this collection (P79-083a); in fact, the two collections complement each other. Photographer's plate numbers absent from one of the collections may possibly be found in the other collection, although the two collections do not form a complete plate number range.
    Moore Dry Dock Company photograph albums, circa 1914-1951, SFMNHP, (SAFR 15212, P79-071a (scr 55a-ee)). Consists of 31 photograph albums illustrating the activities of Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company, including vessel launchings, shipyard activities and general views of vessels constructed, repaired or redesigned by the company. Also includes views of Moore Dry Dock Company bridges, machinery, employees, and visitors. Note that all the Moore photographs have original plate numbers. A majority of the images in this collection (P79-083a) also appear in P79-071a. See P79-071a for additional views of the vessels found in P79-083a.
    Iris K. Nelson photographs, circa 1916-1918. SFMNHP, (SAFR 15284, P79-029a, (scr29)). Consists of one photograph album containing 74 photographs compiled by Moore Shipbuilding Company showing vessel launchings held at Moore & Scott Iron Works and Moore Shipbuilding Company. Also contains photographs of vessel trial trips. Eighteen photographic prints in P79-029a are the same image as negatives in in this collection (P79-083a).
    Additional photographs of Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock can be found in the SFMNHP Classified photograph collection.
    Related manuscript collections: Key System Transit Company ferry plans, 1926-1934, SFMNHP, (SAFR 22127, HDC1552). Consists of 27 marine engineering plans created by Moore Dry Dock, Key System Transit Company, and Key Terminal Railway Ltd., of which 20 pertain to the ferries PERALTA (hull number 170) and YERBA BUENA (hull number 171).
    Moore Dry Dock Company ships plans, 1882-1962, SFMNHP, (SAFR 20962, HDC1065). Consists of 21,700 naval architecture and marine engineering drawings from Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company.
    Researchers should note that there are other books and collections with materials related to Moore & Scott Iron Works, Moore Shipbuilding Company, and Moore Dry Dock Company in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. They can search the Park's web catalog for more information.
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Shipbuilding--History--20th century
    Shipbuilding industry
    Ships--Maintenance and repair
    Merchant ships
    Merchant ships--United States--History--20th century
    Cargo ships
    Passenger ships
    Government vessels--United States
    Moulin, Gabriel, 1872-1945
    Moore & Scott Iron Works
    Moore Shipbuilding Company
    Moore Dry Dock Company
    United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation
    Gabriel Moulin Studios
    Capto (built 1916; freighter)
    Lubrico (built 1921; tanker)
    Peralta (built 1926; ferry)
    Tamiahua (built 1921; tanker)
    Thomas H. Wheeler (built 1920; tanker)
    Thordis (built 1917; freighter)
    Tuckanuck (built 1919; freighter)
    Tustem (built 1921; tanker)
    Vacuum (built 1920; tanker)
    Wilhelmina (built 1909; passenger vessel)
    Yellowstone (built 1918; freighter)
    Yerba Buena (built 1926; ferry)
    Oakland (Calif.)
    Oakland Estuary (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Glass negatives
    Black-and-white negatives
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Gelatin silver prints