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John Haskell Kemble Maritime Art Collection: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: John Haskell Kemble maritime art collection
    Dates (inclusive): 1828-1981
    Bulk dates: 1880-1920
    Collection Number: artJHK
    Collector: Kemble, John Haskell, 1912-1990.
    Extent: 125 items
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Prints and Ephemera
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection forms part of the John Haskell Kemble maritime collection compiled by American maritime historian John Haskell Kemble (1912-1990). The collection contains 125 artworks pertaining to and/or depicting maritime vessels, including both commercial and military ships.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Access Information

    RESTRICTED. Available with curatorial approval. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. John Haskell Kemble maritime art collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of John Haskell Kemble, 1960s-1990s.

    Processing/Project Information

    Collection processed 1999 to 2006 by Mario M. Einaudi. Finding aid encoded by Charla DelaCuadra in 2019.

    Biographical Note

    John Haskell Kemble (1912-1990), Jack to his family and friends, was born June 17, 1912, in Marshalltown, Iowa. He was the only child of Ira Oscar Kemble and Caroline Haskell Kemble. His father owned and operated several greenhouses which grew flowers for the florist trade. In the late teens, Jack's father sold most of his greenhouses and in 1921, the family moved to California. The Kemble family first lived in Eagle Rock, then Pasadena. Jack graduated from Pasadena High School in 1930, and went to Pasadena Junior College in 1931, before transferring to Stanford, where he earned his B.A. in 1933. He then crossed the Bay and studied under Prof. Herbert Eugene Bolton at the University of California, Berkeley, earning his M.A. in 1934, and his Ph.D. in 1937. Through the contacts made by Bolton and Henry Wagner, Kemble joined the Pomona College faculty in 1936 as a Professor of History. He retired from Pomona 41 years later, in 1977. During World War II Kemble served in the U.S. Navy, from 1942-1946, in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations and on the Staff of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. In October 1945 he received a Commendation Ribbon from Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor. Kemble rose from Ensign to Lieutenant Commander during the war, remained active in the US Naval Reserve after the war, and retired as Commander, USNR, in 1960.
    In peacetime Kemble was also busy outside of his professorial duties at Pomona. He was a Visiting Professor, at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., 1952-1953; was on the faculty of the Munson Institute of American Maritime History, Mystic, Conn., teaching during Summers from 1955-1981; served on the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Committee on Naval History from 1961-1980; and on the California State Historical Resources Commission from 1976-1979 and again from 1985-1990 (Chairman, 1987-1988).
    His PhD thesis, The Panama Route, 1848-1869, was first published by the Univ. of California Press in 1943, and remains one of the principle resources on that pivotal time in US and Pacific Maritime history. He also wrote San Francisco Bay: a pictorial maritime history, published by the Cornell Maritime Press in 1957 and was the editor for a definitive edition of Two years before the mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., published by Ward Ritchie Press in 1964; he also edited To California and the South Seas: the diary of Albert G. Osbun, 1849-1851, published by the Huntington Library in 1966.
    Kemble was an active member of the Zamorano Club, as well as other organizations and groups including: the California Historical Society; E Clampus Vitus; and the Los Angeles Corral of the Westerners. In February of 1990 Kemble was on his fourth round the World cruise on the P&O liner Canberra when, between New Zealand and Australia, he passed away, asleep in a deck chair.

    Scope and Content

    This collection forms part of the John Haskell Kemble maritime collection compiled by American maritime historian John Haskell Kemble (1912-1990). The collection contains 125 artworks dating from 1828 to 1981, with subjects pertaining to and/or depicting maritime vessels, including commercial and military ships. Most are oil paintings, with some watercolors also included.
    The collection is divided into three series: Commercial, General, and Military. Over two dozen companies are represented in the Commercial series, including Northern Pacific Steamship, Occidental and Oriental, Pacific Mail Steamship, and White Star Line. General artworks include costal and waterfront views as well as a variety of vessels. The Military series contains mainly American naval vessels, but also includes a Peruvian man-of-war schooner and a British Royal Navy frigate.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Related collection of maritime books from Kemble's library is fully cataloged and may be searched under individual titles in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.   The collection may also be accessed as a whole by searching TITLE -- "John Haskell Kemble maritime collection", or AUTHOR -- " Kemble, John Haskell, 1912-1990, donor."


    The collection is arranged in the following three series:
    • Series I. Commercial
    • Series II. General
    • Series III. Military
    Artwork is arranged numerically by call number and described in the following format:
    • Item call number
    • Title of artwork. Date
    • Artist(s) (when known).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Steamboat lines.


    Drawings (visual works)
    Paintings (visual works)