3 Replies Latest reply on Nov 4, 2019 1:36 PM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking activities of US Shipping Board in WWI


      Greetings--In what offensives did the U.S. Shipping Board participate in WWI? While mariners were critically engaged in overseas transport, did they also participate in moving munitions/fighting on land in France and Belgium? Was the U.S. Shipping Board involved in the Meuse Argonne Offensive or the North Sea Mine Barrage? Are there any first-hand accounts by mariners for this WWI period? Thank you--

        • Re: Seeking activities of US Shipping Board in WWI
          Jason Atkinson Pioneer

          Dear Ms. Doyle,

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

          We searched the  National Archives Catalog and located multiple record series in the Records of the United States Shipping Board (Record Group 32) that were created during the war, but  we were unable to locate an oral history series. If you have questions about any of these record series, please contact the reference unit listed in the series description.


          In regards to first-hand accounts by U.S. Merchant Seaman, we suggest that you search publications such as newspapers articles, magazine articles, and memoirs that were published during or after the war.  A wide variety of museums, libraries and historical societies also have collections related to maritime history, World War I history, or local history that might contain such accounts. You may wish to begin your search with the National Maritime Historical Society’s Research page. There also might be useful resources on the website of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission.


          For information about the role of the U.S. Shipping Board during World War I, we suggest that you read “A Short History of the Maritime Administration” and The Maritime Administration’s First 100 Years: 1916 – 2016 published by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) History Program.  The MARAD History Program as also made available Annual Reports of the United States Shipping Board. The MARAD History Program may be contacted via email at marad.history@dot.gov.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking activities of US Shipping Board in WWI

              Dear Mr. Atkinson,


              Thank you very much for your suggestions, since I imagine not many people know this area. Record Group 32 for the U.S. Shipping Board is daunting! (and I see from Record Explorer that it has not been digitized). I did, however, see a series in the Catalog for mariners who served at the rating of stewards. This could be helpful, since my guy did. Otherwise, there seem to be a lot of redundant categories for general and personnel records (some of which researchers have checked for me in the past without success). In fact, many patient staff members from National Archives regional offices have tried to help me in looking for my mariner's name (John B. Flannagan/Flanigan, [1895-1942]) in the various record groups. However, this is really hard without knowing the cardinal points of information of ship name, exact date of departure, and port. Is there any way to get around this organizational quandary? RG 41 has so far been the most abundant source, since it has Flannagan's application for the USSB and seaman's identification cards (thank you again Walter Hickey).


              You mention checking publications. The annual reports of the USSB seem helpful, and thanks for the link. I am planning to look at The Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers Newspaper of WWI, 1918-19? Can you suggest other publications? Unfortunately, so many more recent second-hand accounts only give brief mention of the USSB during WWI. They then quickly devolve into discussions of its role during WWII.



              K. Doyle