Guide to the H. A. Betaque Papers

Finding Aid Authors: Amanda Lanthorne.
© Copyright 2011 Special Collections & University Archives. All rights reserved.
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Phone: 619-594-6791

Guide to the H. A. Betaque Papers 1918/1922

Special Collections & University Archives

Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: H. A. Betaque Papers
Dates: 1918-1922
Bulk Dates: 1918-1920
Identification: MS-0475
Creator: Betaque, H. A.
Physical Description: 3.66 linear ft
Language of Materials: English
Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Phone: 619-594-6791

Biographical Information:

Harry Andrew Betaque worked as an inspector and later as a resident representative for the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation from 1918 to 1921. The US Shipping Board sought to expand the United States' merchant marines during and after the First World War. Because of steel and lumber shortages during the First World War, the government turned to concrete as an affordable alternative. Thus, the Emergency Fleet Corporation created its Concrete Ship Section and began building concrete ships. The Faith, built in 1917, was the first concrete ship built in the US.
Having worked as a civil engineer in Washington State, and as the Head of Hull Construction, Betaque appears to have begun work with the Emergency Fleet Corporation in 1918 when he was appointed the resident inspector for the construction of the Atlantus, a concrete ship built by the Liberty Shipbuilding Company in Brunswick, GA.
After the completion of the Atlantus, the Emergency Fleet Corporation transferred Betaque to San Diego as the Resident Representative to oversee the Pacific Marine Construction Company's construction of two sister ships, the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. Although the San Diego Yard had been commissioned to build a total of eight concrete ships, the US Shipping Board ceased concrete construction in 1921 because of a surplus of steel ships freed for use at the conclusion of World War I. The San Pasqual and Cuyamaca were the only two concrete ships built in San Diego. That same year, the US Shipping Board transferred the ship yard to the Navy, creating today's Naval Yard. Betaque left San Diego and pursued oil interests in Louisiana.
Betaque had a wife, Cora, and two sons, Harry and Norman.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Corporate Name:

United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation

Genre/Form of Material:

Personal Papers

Topical Term:

Concrete ships -- United States
Merchant ships -- United States
Shipbuilding – California -- San Diego

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use:

The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Conditions Governing Access:

This collections is open for research.

Preferred Citation:

Identification of item, folder title, box number, H.A. Betaque Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Related Materials:

San Diego Chamber of Commerce Records
Records of San Diegans, Inc.

Arrangement of Materials:

I. Personal Papers
II. Photographs

Scope and Contents

The H.A. Betaque Papers document Betaque's career as a resident representative for the United State Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation between 1918 and 1922, with particular emphasis the construction of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca in San Diego, California. Highlights include panoramic photographs of the San Diego Harbor and ship yard, as well as construction photographs of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. The collection includes correspondence, reports, costs analyses, engineering formulas, Emergency Fleet directives, photographs and photograph albums. The collection is divided into two series: Personal Papers (1918-1921) and Photographs (1918-1920).
The Personal Papers (1918-1922) document Betaque's professional activities with the Emergency Fleet Corporation in Brunswick, GA and San Diego, as well as his personal financial interests, including stocks and oil interests between 1918 and 1921. The series includes correspondence, directives, memorandums, cost analyses, reports, formulas, news clippings, and blueprints. The reports, formulas, blue prints and cost analyses primarily document Betaque's work on the Atlantus, the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. Reports on the Faith and the Palo Alto are also included. Of particular interest are letters from both Betaque and his colleagues referencing a depressed economy, lack of work, and a growing interest in oil. This series is filed alphabetically and primarily dates from 1918 to 1920.
The Photographs (1918-1920) mostly provide visual documentation for the construction and launching of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca, although there are a few photographs of the Palo Alto and the Atlantus. The majority of photographs date from 1919 to 1920. Filed alphabetically by folder title, this series includes two photograph albums and many loose photographs, which appear to have been disassembled from albums. Most of the San Pasqual and Cuyamaca photographs have a number and a brief description on the lower right corner of the image. It is unclear what individual or corporation created these numbers.  The photographs are arranged numerically within folders. Highlights include the two photograph albums, which include images of construction workers, panoramic shots of the San Diego Yard, and the launching ceremonies of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca in San Diego.

Detailed List of Contents


Personal Papers 1918-1921

Box 1, Folder 1

Comparison of Concrete and Steel Ships 1919

Box 1, Folder 2

Concrete Ships: A Possible Solution of the Shipping Problem December 1917

Box 1, Folder 3

Correspondence: Fraternal and Professional Organizations (San Diego Lodge, American Society of Engineers, Etc.) 1919-1921

Box 1, Folder 4

Correspondence: Personal and Work Related 1919-1921

Box 1, Folder 5

Correspondence: Stock Investments 1919-1921

Box 1, Folder 6

Cost Analyses and Synopses for Concrete Ships 1918

Box 1, Folder 7

Emergency Fleet Corporation Headquarters Directives and Correspondence 1918-1919

Box 1, Folder 8

"Faith" Report 1918

Box 1, Folder 9

General Instructions to Inspecting Engineers

Box 1, Folder 10

Hinged Frame Formulas

Box 1, Folder 11

Liberty Shipbuilding Company, Georgia 1918

Box 1, Folder 12

Pacific Marine Construction Company Statement of Overhead or Indirect Labor January and October 1919

Box 1, Folder 13

Personal File 1918-1922

Box 2, Folder 1

Reports on the Concreting and Launching of Ships 1918-1919

Box 2, Folder 2

"SS Selma" Repairs 1921

Box 2, Folder 3

Semi-Annual Report of Design Branch of Concrete Ship Section, Steel Ship Division circa 1919

Box 2, Folder 4

Specifications for the Construction of a Concrete Oil Tank Steamer of 7500 tons August 1920

Folder 1

Oversize Blueprints and Maps 1918-1921


Photographs 1918-1920

Box 2, Folder 5

"Atlantus" 1918

Box 2, Folder 6

Launchings of the "San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 2, Folder 7

Pacific Marine and Construction Company Personnel circa 1920

Box 2, Folder 8

"Palo Alto" 1919

Box 2, Folder 9

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 3, Folder 1

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 3, Folder 2

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 3, Folder 3

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 3, Folder 4

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 4, Folder 1

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 4, Folder 2

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" 1919-1920

Box 5

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" Photograph Album #1 1919-1920

Box 6

"San Pasqual" and "Cuyamaca" Photograph Album #2 1919-1920