Scope and Content of Collection
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Title: Torrance R. Parker Collection on Commercial and Deep Sea Diving
Dates: 1805-2013 (bulk 1947-1995)
Collection Number: Collection # 73
Torrance R. Parker
Parker Diving Service
Parker Diving Service, Inc.
Sparling School of Diving and Underwater Welding
Extent: 6 cubic feet; 322 books
Los Angeles Maritime Museum
San Pedro, California 90731
Abstract: The collection contains business and personal correspondence; records of ship salvage and underwater construction work; diving
logs, reports and manuals; survey and other diagrams; clippings and articles; rare diving equipment catalogs; maps; decompression
tables and calculators; samples of permits, invoices, receipts, bids and contracts; interviews and profiles; brochures and
fliers; periodicals; approximately 500 photographic prints; and a book collection consisting of 322 volumes, many of them
rare, that document the history and practice of deep diving and related topics. Torrance R. Parker collected these resources
over the course of his sixty-eight years as a deep diver, including a fifty-six-year career working as a commercial diver
and nearly forty years as owner of the Parker Diving Service, Inc. of San Pedro, California; as a diver, researcher and compiler
of resources concerning the history and practice of commercial, fishery, and military diving; and as author of two books on
Language of Material: English
Prior arrangement with the Museum Director or Archivist.
Copyright restrictions apply. Please inquire in writing to the Museum Director or Archivist. The material may not be used
Torrance R. Parker Collection on Commercial and Deep Sea Diving. Los Angeles Maritime Museum
The collection was in Torrance Parker's possession over the course of its creation and was donated to the Los Angeles Maritime
Museum in 2014.
Torrance R. Parker (b. July 4, 1928) owned a commercial diving business, Parker Diving Service, Inc., in San Pedro, California
for nearly forty years, from 1947 to 1985, and worked as a diver for sixty-eight years. During this time, he participated
in all aspects of deep diving work, including commercial diving, which refers to construction, salvage, maintenance, repair,
and inspection of underwater engineered structures; military diving, including stints as an army diver and army diving trainer;
and abalone fishery diving, including work as a sponge diver while still a teenager, when he learned this trade from Greek
practitioners in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
At the end of the War, in order to work in the field of commercial diving, Parker moved to San Pedro, California, attending
the Sparling School of Diving and Underwater Welding in nearby Wilmington to learn newly developed underwater construction
techniques including welding and burning. In 1947, he went on to found Parker Diving Service, Inc. (initially, Parker Diving
Service was incorporated). Like most commercial diving businesses at the time, Parker Diving Service began as a sole owner
diving company; at 19, Parker owned the newest diving company on the harbor, and also became the youngest diver in the Pile
Drivers and Divers Union Local 2375. In 1948, Parker married Tina Carreon, and they had six children, Kimberly, CynDy, Torrance
(III), Timothy, Mellissa, and Dulce. From 1950-1952, during the Korean War, Parker was trained in Army diving methods to work
as an instructor and diver at the Army’s diving school in Fort Eustis, Virginia, as well as to provide diving services to
their 3rd Port complex.
Parker Diving Service is now the oldest continuously operating commercial diving company in California. Parker sold the company
in 1985, but continued working as a consultant and diver with Parker Diving Service until 1995. Upon retirement, he authored
20,000 Jobs under the Sea: A History of Diving and Underwater Engineering (1997). He subsequently developed and built the
“20,000 Jobs under the Sea” exhibit for the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro; the exhibit depicts the history of both
commercial and fishery diving and includes that of Southern California’s earliest divers.
Beginning in 1997, Parker conducted a survey of the Gulf of Mexico’s pre-World War II deep-water sponge grounds unworked since
1939 – a diving project that took three years to accomplish. He wrote a deep and thorough account of sponge diving from ancient
Greece to its current epicenter in Tarpon Springs, Florida, 20,000 Divers under the Sea: A History of the Mediterranean and
Western Atlantic Sponge Trades with an Account of Early Deep Diving (2013).
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection focuses primarily on commercial diving in Southern California and the work undertaken by Parker Diving Service,
Inc. in underwater construction, offshore oil diving, and ship salvage; other focuses include fishery and military diving.
The collection also provides resources documenting the history of important commercial diving companies and of diving equipment
and supplies, as reflected in rare catalogs and other documents; information about decompression sickness (also known as the
bends or as caisson disease), its measurement and treatment; the work of individual divers; and the history of the Los Angeles
Harbor/Port of Los Angeles, as seen in clippings files and in other materials. The book collection contains material on topics
including deep diving and its history; marine ecology; seafaring and navigation; ships, underwater ship husbandry, and shipbuilding;
underwater archaeology; underwater and offshore engineering and construction; shipwrecks and salvage; treasure troves; submarine
medicine and underwater physiology; fisheries; commerce, trades, and privateering; and maritime photography and arts; as well
as books by and about individual divers and those with a regional focus, including Southern California; Tarpon Springs, Florida;
and other locations.
Deep diving--Equipment and supplies
Deep diving--Physiological aspects
Offshore oil well drilling--History
Ellis R. Cross
Port of Long Beach
Port of Los Angeles
San Pedro Bay (Calif.)
San Pedro (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Wilmington (Los Angeles, Calif.)
brochures and flyers
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