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A guide to the Al Graves collection of West Coast vessel photographs, circa 1860s-1965
P96-045 (SAFR 23146)  
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Al Graves collection of West Coast vessel photographs
    Date: circa 1860s-1965
    Date (bulk): circa 1940-1960
    Collection No. (Catalog No.): P96-045 (SAFR 23146)
    Creator: Graves, Alvin C., 1911-
    Physical Description: 763 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Al Graves collection of West Coast vessel photographs, circa 1860s-1965, (SAFR 23146, P96-045) is comprised mainly of photographs of vessels in the San Francisco Bay Area and other locations on the Pacific West Coast, and several waterfront views of various harbors and cities. Vessel types include cargo vessels, passenger vessels, general merchant vessels, and United States government vessels. The collection has been processed to the item level and is open for use without restrictions.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.


    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.

    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

    All photographs have been rehoused into new envelopes and any information on the envelopes has been transferred into the item record. This information typically included the vessel name, the date the photograph was taken, and the location of the photograph, typed or hand-written on each envelope. When this information was present, it was used in describing each item.
    Most of the original enclosures had identification numbers written on or stamped on the front. It is not clear who assigned these numbers. When there was an identification number given, it was noted in the item level record. There is only one instance of a duplicate identification number. Although most of the photographs were assigned numbers, they were not arranged in numerical order when we received the collection. These numbers did not correspond to a chronological scheme or other identifiable scheme; furthermore, it is unknown who numbered them. Consequently, the photographs have been arranged into 4 series and the identification number (when present) has been noted in the summary note field.
    Some of the negatives were identified as "Penn neg." or "Wurm neg." which refers to William Pennington and Ted Wurm, respectively. This information has been noted at the item level. The Pennington negatives date from the 1890s-early 1950s. The Wurm negatives date from 1947. There were also some photographs marked as being from Roy Graves. There is a possibility that there are more photographs from Wurm, Pennington and/or Roy in this collection that were unmarked. For instance, during his career, one of the vessels that Roy worked was the CHEHALIS and there is a photograph of this vessel in the collection.
    The San Francisco Maritime NHP has other collections with photographs from Al Graves, Roy Graves, William A. Pennington, and Ted Wurm. We checked many of those photographs against the ones in this collection (in the hopes of identifying more of the photographers in this collection), but there were no matches.
    Most of the photographs had their own enclosure, but there were a significant number of photographs that were loose and had no individual enclosure. Some were found as part of a group of photographs inside a manila envelope that was cut in half. Some were found inside of an AAA envelope labeled "Johnson," which was also in the manila envelope that was cut in half.
    The original enclosures were envelopes that mostly had a return address of "Railroadiana, Grahame H. Hardy; 2046 East 14th St.; Oakland, Calif." (Grahame H. Hardy was a publisher in Oakland, California and published under his full name. He also had a studio called "Tecrasilk") or with a return address from Pacific Nash Motor Co., (either in San Francisco or Oakland) printed on them. There were some negatives in brown photograph envelopes with spaces to fill in name, date, photographer, etc. There were also a few negatives in envelopes with the return address of James E. Neighbor Company; 4926 E. 12th Street; Oakland, California, printed on them.
    Some of the negatives were identified as being safety film or nitrate by their markings and notch codes. Those that were not labeled were tested. Of the items in this collection that have been described as nitrate, there were approximately 20 that may in fact be safety film, but seemed highly flammable. Consequently these were described and stored as nitrate.
    The photographs were given dates based on when the original photograph was taken, per the original enclosure or research regarding the dates the vessel was active. Many of the negatives are copy negatives. It should be noted that often dates of the photographs do not always reflect the date of the physical item being described. When it was apparent that the physical item was a copy negative, it was noted, and a date of production was added in the summary note for the item.
    Each vessel has been assigned an item number within its appropriate series, and most items only contain one photograph. However, there are some instances where there are multiple photographs associated with each "item." For example, the cargo vessel INDIA has been assigned item number 149, and there are three different photographs of this vessel (so they will be referenced as 149A, 149B, 149C).
    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], P96-045 (SAFR 23146), Al Graves collection of West Coast vessel photographs, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    On July 24, 1996, Stan Johnson (Stanley O. Johnson) donated 763 items to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Al Graves gave Stan Johnson this collection of negatives around 1994. The photographs were taken by various photographers, most of whom are unidentified.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    During the mid-20th century, a community of photographers and historians in the San Francisco Bay area were interested in railroads and other forms of transportation. These friends and colleagues shared photographs with each other while building their own collections. Al Graves was a part of this community and there is a strong possibility that some of the photographs in this collection (that were in Al Graves' possession) were taken by, or given to him by, some of his colleagues, family and friends, including: Cliff Graves, Roy D. Graves, Grahame Hardy, Mrs. James Jenkins, Ethel Coy Luce, Robert H. McFarland, William A. Pennington, Kate Plunkett, Vernon J. Sappers, L. S. Slevin, Wallace Sorrel, Audrey Thompson, Brian Thompson, Volley Thoney, M. M. Tompkins, Bertram H. Ward (Bert Ward), W. E. Waste, Theodore G. Wurm (Ted Wurm).
    The photographs in this collection were given to Stan Johnson by Al Graves around 1994. Some of the original envelopes confirmed that some of the photographs in this collection came from Roy D. Graves, Ted Wurm, and William Pennington, and short biographies for these men are below, as well as for Stan Johnson and Al Graves. Roy, Al and Ted were involved in many projects together, including the books "Cable Car Carnival," "The Crookedest Railroad in the World," and "Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods," in which they all contributed photographs and/or historical commentary. They also shared transportation photographs with each other.
    Stan Johnson (May 7, 1923-June 1, 2000) There is little biographical information that could be found on Stan Johnson. His mother's maiden name was Winegar and he very likely lived in Alameda, California for most of his life. Stan seemed to have an interest/connection with the Pacific Coast Maritime community. Johnson donated another photograph collection to the San Francisco Maritime Museum during the early 1980s and he also gave some photographs to the well-known maritime historian Harold Huycke, with whom he corresponded.
    Al Graves (July 15, 1913-September 29, 2008) Alvin Clifton Graves was born on July 15, 1913 and lived in Northern California throughout his life. Al Graves was the son of Henry Clifton Graves (also known as Hank Graves and Cliff Graves), who began his extensive railroad career on the Tamalpais Line (Wurm, 1960, dedication page). Roy D. Graves and Cliff Graves were brothers. Al Graves was the co-author of the books "The Crookedest Railroad in the World," and "Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods," as well as a contributor to the book "Cable Car Carnival." Al died on September 29, 2008.
    Roy Graves (March 21, 1889- June 5, 1971) Roy D. Graves was born on March 21, 1889 in San Francisco. His birth name was Roy Chadwick Culver Graves and he took the middle name Daniel at his confirmation. Roy's father was a railroad conductor and his grandfather was a '49er. Roy was a locomotive fireman from March 30, 1906 until 1912, and he held jobs on the North Shore line, on the "Crookedest Railroad in the World" (Mt. Tamalpais Railway), on the San Joaquin Valley lines, as hostler at West Oakland roundhouse and as a fireman on the Key Route electric rail line. Roy was Al Graves's uncle but many other people also referred to him as "Uncle Roy."
    In 1910 Roy married Ethel Walsh. In 1912 he became employed as an engineer on steam ferries and worked as an engineer on coastwise steamers of Rolph Navigation Company, on the Sudden and Christensen Lumber Company's steam schooner CHEHALIS, and on some voyages towing log rafts from the Columbia River to southern California with the tug HERCULES. In late 1918, he took the job as Chief Engineer for the new Rodeo-Vallejo Ferry Company, where he worked on the steamer ISSAQUAH. His last job on the water was from 1920-1931, as Chief Engineer of the tug fleet of the California-Hawaiian refinery at Crockett, working on the HENRY J. BIDDLE and the CROLONA until the tugs were laid aside. His last job at the refinery was towing the old ferryboat GARDEN CITY to her permanent mooring as a fishing resort east of Crockett. From 1931 until his retirement, Roy held various jobs as operating engineer, mostly with the City of San Francisco: working on the State Refrigeration Terminal, the Veteran's Building and Civic Opera House, and the Fourth and Channel Streets Drawbridge.
    Roy lived in the San Francisco Bay his whole life, and was a longtime photographer and photograph collector. He was interested in local scenes, events, and transportation history. "Graves eventually became part of a small, informal network of other collectors with similar interests from whom he was able to acquire many of his prints" (McDonald and Rubiales). Graves retired in 1958, and then spent some time as curator of the Marin County Historical Society Museum in San Rafael (Dickinson, Appendix A). Roy Graves died on June 5, 1971 in San Francisco.
    Ted G. Wurm (January 5, 1919- February 23, 2004) Theodore Grover Wurm was born in San Francisco on January 5, 1919. His father, Theodore F. Wurm, worked in the offices of the old Ocean Shore railroad and the Southern Pacific. He attended St. Ignatius High School and the University of San Francisco, where he majored in business and was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1941 and went on to serve with the Eighth Air Force in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He then served with the Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Ted G. Wurm was the office manager for Tesio Meat Co. in Oakland for over 30 years, but his true passions were railroads, transportation history and long-distance running (Nolte). Ted was "an active member of E. Clampus Vitus, " a past Sheriff of the San Francisco Corral of the Westerners, a member of the Mendocino County Historical Society, and a lecturer on rail subjects" (Wurm, 1986, biography on book jacket). Wurm also co-authored a book titled "Silver Short Line" with Harre W. Demoro, who was an Oakland native, Bay Area newspaperman, and author of many other books on urban transportation, ferryboats and railroad history. Wurm was also interested in transportation history and collected and took some maritime photographs. He donated multiple photograph collections to the San Francisco Maritime Museum in the 1980s and 1990s. Wurm was also actively involved in the local social justice movement. He was a friend of Cesar Chavez, helped to build a hospital for migrant farm workers in Visalia, Tulare County, and participated in the anti-Vietnam movement of the 1960s-1970s. Wurm died in Oakland on February 23, 2004 and was survived by his wife Betty, and children Michael, Elizabeth Woodard, and Sarah Rossi.
    William A. Pennington There is little biographical information that could be found on William Pennington. His full name was likely William A. Pennington and he very likely lived in Alameda, California for most of his life, based on information in the San Francisco Maritime's collection files, and other photograph collections (at the San Francisco Maritime NHP and at the Bancroft Library) that contain photographs from Ted Wurm, Al Graves and W.A. Pennington. There was a William A. Pennington in the Navy from 1943-1946, but it is unclear if this is the same Pennington that took the photographs in this collection, or was perhaps Pennington's son. It seems very likely that his full name was William Anderson Pennington, but this could not be confirmed. In 1951, A.C. Graves (most likely Alvin Clifton Graves) and William A. Pennington gave a nameboard from the tugboat GOVERNOR IRWIN, to the San Francisco Maritime NHP (this shows that Pennington and Graves knew each other, and that his full name is William A. Pennington). Item 617 contains a photograph of William A. Pennington and Thompson in a row boat, circa 1940s-1950s.
    Possible William Pennington biographical information (could not be confirmed):
    William Andrew Pennington (December 22, 1877 - August 23, 1958) was born in Canada and died in Santa Clara County. His spouse was Louise M. Pennington (1876-1961).
    William Anderson Pennington (December 14, 1878-May 9, 1940) was born in Michigan and died in Alameda, California. His mother's maiden name was Taylor. He lived in Alameda in 1930 and was married to Ida M. Pennington (who was born in California). His children were Kennett and Catherine. William A. Pennington worked as a Brakeman at the Southern Pacific Co. in Oakland, Ca. It seems like he lived in Alameda his whole life, possibly briefly in Sacramento.
    William A. Pennington, Jr. (1910-?) was very possibly William Pennington's (the Pennington whose photographs are in this collection) son, and he was born in California (possibly in Sacramento). He lived in Alameda and was married to Camille (from Germany. They seem to have gotten married in the late 1920s)
    • Sources:
    • Beebe, Lucius and Charles Clegg. 1951. Cable Car Carnival. Decorations by E. S. Hammack. Published by Grahame Hardy, Oakland, California.
    • Dickinson, A. Bray with Roy Graves, Ted Wurm and Al Graves. 1967. Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods: The Story of the North Pacific Coast Railroad and San Francisco Bay Paddle-wheel Ferries. Trans-Anglo Books, Los Angeles.
    • McDonald, Chris and Padma Rubiales. 1997. Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection finding aid. Bancroft Library. BANC PIC 1905.17500--ALB. http://cdn.calisphere.org/data/13030/ng/tf1q2nb2ng/files/tf1q2nb2ng.pdf, accessed May 8, 2012.
    • Nolte, Carl. "Ted Wurm -- historian of the Western railroad" San Francisco Chronicle, 2004 February 29. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/02/29/BAGAF5ATTC1.DTL, accessed February 14, 2012.
    • Wurm, Ted. 1986. Mallets on the Mendocino Coast: Caspar Lumber Company Railroads and Steamships. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, California
    • Wurm, Theodore G. and Alvin C. Graves. 1960. The Crookedest Railroad in the World: a history of the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railroad of California. Howell-North. Berkeley, California.
    In the following books, there are photographs credited to the following people who appeared to belong to the community who exchanged photographs with each other. This information is used as the basis for speculation that some of the photographs in this collection (P96-045) might be from the following photographers:
    In "The Crookedest Railroad in the World," there are photographs from T. G. Wurm, Grahame Hardy, Roy D. Graves, William A. Pennington, Vernon J. Sappers, Mrs. James Jenkins, Cliff Graves, Robert H. McFarland, Bertram H. Ward, A. C. Graves, Volley Thoney, Wallace Sorrel, W. E. Waste. Some of the photos are credited as being from the "A. C. Graves-Pennington Collection."
    In "Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods," there are photographs from Roy D. Graves, Grahame Hardy, Wallace Sorrel, Ted Wurm, M. M. Tompkins, Ethel Coy Luce, Kate Plunkett, L. S. Slevin, Vernon Sappers, Robert H. McFarland, Al Graves, Bert Ward
    In "Cable Car Carnival," the authors thanked the following people for their historical resources: Ted Wurm, Brian Thompson, Alvin Graves, Audrey Thompson (of the editorial staff of the publishers of this book).

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Al Graves collection of West Coast vessel photographs, circa 1860s-1965, (SAFR 23146, P96-045) is comprised mainly of photographs of vessels in the San Francisco Bay Area and other locations on the Pacific West Coast, and several waterfront views of various harbors and cities. Vessel types include cargo vessels, passenger vessels, general merchant vessels, and United States government vessels. The collection has been processed to the item level and is open for use without restrictions.
    The collection is primarily comprised of black-and-white negatives and copy negatives that Al Graves collected. The bulk of the photographs in this collection are of merchant vessels and government vessels in the San Francisco Bay Area, during the 1940s-1960s. Photographs include cargo vessels, passenger vessels, general merchant vessels, United States government vessels, miscellaneous vessels and people and places. While most of the photographs were taken in California and the Pacific West Coast, some were taken in other locations in the United States as well as a few in Canada.
    The photographs were taken by various photographers, most of whom are unidentified. The few photographers that were identified are: Bartlett K. Co., A. W. Ericson (Augustus William Ericson), Feates, Benjamin A. Gifford, B. W. Kilburn, McRae, Ogg, Phelps Commercial Photography, Rieman and Tuttle, Thomas Houseworth & Co., Torka Studio, Charles Weidner, and Winter & Pond Company. It is possible that some of the photographs were taken by Al Graves but this could not be confirmed. There are photographs in this collection that are from William Pennington, Ted Wurm and Graves (either Al or Roy) as well, but it is unclear if they were the photographers or just the sources of the copy negatives.
    There are multiple photographs of the following vessels in this collection: BATAAN (built 1946; cargo vessel); CHINOOK (built 1947; ferry); GENERAL M. C. MEIGS (built 1944; transport: U.S. Navy AP-116); GOLDEN BEAR (built 1944; cargo vessel: training vessel); HELEN P. DREW (built 1904; steam schooner) ; JOHN R. HAYDEN (built 1945; tugboat); MALDEN VICTORY (built 1944; cargo vessel: Victory ship); MATSONIA (built 1932; passenger vessel); MENESTHEUS (built 1958; cargo vessel); OLYMPIAN (built 1883; paddle steamer: side-wheeler); PINE BLUFF VICTORY (built 1945; cargo vessel: Victory ship); PORT OF OAKLAND (built 1940; fireboat); PRINCE RUPERT (built 1910; passenger vessel); PRINCESS PATRICIA (built 1949; passenger vessel); ROYAL STAR (built 1942; cargo vessel); SEA FOX (built 1944; tugboat); SEA KING (built 1910; tugboat); SEA LARK (built 1942; tugboat); SEA QUEEN (tugboat); VANCOUVER (built 1930; cargo vessel); W. B. STOREY (built 1919; tugboat).

    Collection Arrangement

    There was no discernible arrangement to this collection and so it has been arranged into four series: 1. Merchant Vessels, 2. Government Vessels, 3. Other vessels, and 4. People and Places. These series are further arranged into subseries and/or file units. Within each subseries or file unit, items are arranged in alphabetical order by vessel name, personal name, or place name, depending on the content.

    Series Arrangement

    • Series 1 Merchant Vessels, circa 1860s-1968 (bulk 1920-1960)
    • Subseries 1.1 Cargo Vessels, circa 1867-1968 (bulk 1940-1960)
    • File Unit 01: Barges, circa 1900-1960
    • File Unit 02: Tankers, circa 1913-1960 (bulk 1946-1952)
    • File Unit 03: Liberty Ships, circa 1945-1960
    • File Unit 04: Victory Ships, circa 1945-1965 (bulk 1946-1952)
    • File Unit 05: Schooners, circa 1880s-1946
    • File Unit 06: Steam Schooners, circa 1880s-1950s (bulk circa 1915-1940s)
    • File Unit 07: General Cargo vessels, circa 1867-1968 (bulk 1941-1952)
    • Subseries 1.2 Passenger Vessels, circa 1860s-1960 (bulk 1890-1950)
    • File Unit 01: Excursion boats, circa 1890-1948
    • File Unit 02: Ferries, 1882-1950 (bulk 1940-1950)
    • File Unit 03: Launches, 1894-circa 1960 (bulk 1920-1960)
    • File Unit 04: Paddle steamers: Side/Sternwheelers, circa 1860s-1946 (bulk 1880-1920)
    • File Unit 05: Ocean Liners, 1898, circa 1940s-1960s
    • File Unit 06: General passenger vessels, circa 1880-1952 (bulk 1880-1920)
    • Subseries 1.3 General Merchant Vessels, 1864-circa 1960 (bulk 1880s-1940s)
    • Series 2 Government Vessels, 1893-circa 1965 (bulk 1940-1950)
    • File Unit 01: Army Corps of Engineers, 1946-circa 1960
    • File Unit 02: National Defense Reserve Fleet, 1946 August 4-25
    • File Unit 03: U.S. Army, 1899-circa 1950 (bulk 1945-1950)
    • File Unit 04: U.S. Coast Guard, circa 1920-1950
    • File Unit 05: U.S. Navy, 1893-circa 1965 (bulk 1940-1955)
    • Series 3 Other Vessels, 1875-circa 1965 (bulk 1940-1960)
    • File Unit 01: Dredges, circa 1945-1965
    • File Unit 02: Fireboats, circa 1910-1960 (bulk 1948-1960)
    • File Unit 03: Fishing vessels, circa 1930-1960 (bulk 1940-1952)
    • File Unit 04: Tugs, 1875-circa 1960 (bulk 1940-1960)
    • File Unit 05: Miscellaneous types of vessels, circa 1880s-1960 (bulk 1940-1960)
    • File Unit 06: Interior views of vessels, circa 1890-1950 (bulk 1940-1950)
    • File Unit 07: Unidentified vessels, circa 1890-1960 (bulk 1940-1960)
    • Series 4 People and places, circa 1870-1960 (bulk 1880-1920)
    • File Unit 01: People, circa 1940-1960
    • File Unit 02: Places, circa 1870-1960 (bulk 1880-1920)

    Related Materials

    Stan Johnson Photo Collection, 1943, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (P82-096, SAFR 18110); California river steamers, ca. 1880-1945, (P79-024a, SAFR 9398); Ted Wurm photograph collection, 1910-1932, (P82-056 , SAFR 18462); Ted Wurm photo collection, circa 1898. (P88-023, SAFR 17592).
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
    California photos from the Ted Wurm collection, ca. 1880-1935. Bancroft Library, BANC PIC 1994.005--PIC. Photographs collected by Ted Wurm.
    Last trip of str. Oakland to Alameda, January 14, 1939. Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection, ca. 1850-ca. 1970. Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1905.17500--ALB. Series 3 (ships): Subseries 3: Ferry Boats:120). Back row: Ralph Demoro - Bill Pennington [William Pennington??] . Front row: MacFarland. [Photograph by Ted Wurm.]
    • This material is located at University of California, Berkeley. Bancroft Library.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Marine photography
    Merchant ships--United States--History--20th century
    Government vessels--United States
    Coastwise shipping--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Shipping--Pacific Coast (North America)--History--Pictorial works
    Liberty ships
    Victory ships
    Ships--California--San Francisco--Pictorial works
    Paddle steamers
    Passenger ships
    Cargo ships
    Graves, Alvin C., 1911-
    Pennington, William A.
    Johnson, Stanley O., 1923-2000
    Wurm, Ted, 1919-2004
    Graves, Roy D., 1889-1971
    Harbors--California--San Francisco
    Harbors--California--San Francisco Bay
    Oakland Inner Harbor (Calif.)
    Alameda (Calif.)
    Suisun Bay (Calif.)
    British Columbia
    Black-and-white negatives
    Black-and-white prints
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Black-and-white glass positives
    Maritime history
    Maritime Historian