William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company Records

Collection ID: 
Record Group MSS 031
Collecting Area: 



            The William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company was created in Philadelphia in 1830.   The company earned its reputation by furnishing the government with iron-clads and other ships of war during the Civil War.  After the war, Cramp’s continued to grow by contracting with the American Steamship Company to produce four first-class iron steamers for trade on the Philadelphia and Liverpool Line.  In 1876, the quality of the Cramp shipyards caught the attention of the Russian government, which led to several contracts and increased international esteem.  At the time of William Cramp’s death in 1879, five of his sons were involved in various aspects of the company.  Charles Cramp served as president until October 1903, when he resigned and Henry S. Grove took over.  The last member of the Cramp family to serve on the company’s board of directors was Edwin S. Cramp (son of Charles) as Vice President, and he resigned in early 1907.

            This collection is primarily a record of the company’s proceedings between 1895 and 1910, and includes a great deal of Edwin Cramp’s business correspondence.  Where appropriate, the material is grouped by correspondent, such as “Edwin Cramp and William Clyde.”  In many groups the majority of letters are those received by Cramp, although occasionally there is a copy of what Cramp mailed out.  The groups are arranged chronologically.

There are letters between various members of the Cramp family, and of note is the amount of letters between Edwin and his older brother Benjamin.  This part of the collection consists of 60+ letters or telegrams that the brothers sent to each other during the second half of 1910.  Benjamin Cramp was a naval contractor who independently owned the B. H. Cramp Manganese Bronze Works.  In 1891 Benjamin Cramp sold this company to the main Cramp Company so that they could handle naval contracts.  The Bronze Works changed its name to the Cramp Brass Foundry, of which correspondence and financial data exist in this collection.

The finances of the Cramp Ship and Engine Building Company were not stable during the first decade of the 20th century.  If it were not for the income from subsidiary (non-marine) companies such as the Brass Foundry, the main company would not have shown a profit.  Some financial information is part of this collection, in the form of statements and estimates from the years 1903 – 1905.

Also included is a wealth of material concerning the remodeling of Edwin Cramp’s residence in New York City, at 127 E. 61st Street.

This collection was purchased in March 1990.  The Independence Seaport Museum (Philadelphia) and the University of Baltimore hold other collections of the Cramp Ship and Engine Building Company.


Anastasia Karel

Compiler, January 2002

Table of Contents


Box 1                           Correspondence of Edwin S. Cramp, covering 1879 – 1911  

Box 2                           Miscellaneous correspondence; House remodeling                             

Box 3                           Ship data (tests, blueprints, financial data, etc.)                                  


Box     Folder             Contents

1              1                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Robert Burton: 9 letters, 8 addressed to Cramp, in chronological order, 10/30/1903 –02/11/1904; report on                
                                     Baltimore’s Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. by P.C. Asserson, U.S.N., no date; note:  Burton was a Baltimore attorney;          

1              2                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and William and Thomas Clyde: 15 letters between these men, in chronological order, 12/09/1893 –03/29/1894;  
                                     note:  Thomas Clyde was William’s son, and they operated the Clyde Steamship Company;

1              3                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Benjamin H. Cramp: 67 letters or telegrams between the two brothers, mostly from 1910, in chronological
                                     order, 10/09/1879 – 01/04/1911;

1              4                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and James L. Crandall:  33 letters or telegrams between the two men, in chronological order 09/18/1907 –            
                                     03/28/1908; note:  Crandall was president of the company H. I. Crandall & Son Co., Engineers and Contractors;

1              5                  Correspondence, Cramp Dry Dock Company: 3 newspaper articles on creation of this company, no dates or sources;  “Prospectus of Hampton Roads
                                     Dry Dock Company,” Norfolk, Va., 10/15/1906, 33p; “Estimated Cost of buildings, shops and equipment,” 12/14/1907; “Certificate of Incorporation of
                                     Cramp Dry Dock, Inc.,” 01/21/1908; “Prospectus – The Cramp Dry Dock Company,” Norfolk, Va., 01/22/1908; “Bill of Incorporation,” for Cramp Dry Dock
                                     Co., no date (likely01/1908);  “Financial Plan,” for Cramp Dry Dock Co., no date (likely 01/1908); specification for “Railway Dry Docks for the Pescara
                                     Land Company,” Norfolk, Va., no date (likely 1908); correspondence between Edwin S. Cramp, J. Groner, and George Norris, 60 letters or telegrams in
                                     chronological order, 05/18/1907 – 04/11/1908;

1              6                  Correspondence, Cramp family:

            Father (Charles) to son Edwin, no date.

                                    Father to son, 09/15/1876

                                    Father to son, 09/18/1876

                                    Father to son, 10/15/1876

                                    Father to son, 10/16/1876

                                    Courtland Cramp to “brother,” 10/06/1877

                                    Harry Cramp to Edwin, 11/30/1877

                                    Harry to “brother,” 03/14/1883

                                    Father to “Eddie(?),” 04/21/1885

                                    Benjamin, Howard, and Courtland to Edwin, 11/22/1887

Edwin to “Dollie,” no date

                                    Edwin to Dollie, 07/09/1896

                                    Edwin to Dollie, 07/11/1896

                                    Edwin to Dollie, 08/13/1896

                                    Benjamin to Father (Charles), 08/28/1899

                                    (?) Hutchinson (Secretary) to Miss Cramp (Dorothy?), 10/17/03

                                    Francis Cramp to Edwin, 06/08/1910

1              7                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Henry S. Grove: 119 letters, mostly between these two men, in chronological order,08/10/1903 – 02/06/1907; 
                                     note: Grove became president of the Cramp company in October, 1903;

1              8                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Edwin Lavens: 33 letters or telegrams, mostly from Lavens to Cramp, etc., in chronological order, 11/14/1900 –  

1              9                  Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Philip McElhone: 20 letters or telegrams from McElhone to Cramp with regards to aship subsidy bill in
                                     Congress, in chronological order, 02/09/1907 – 05/08/1907;note:  Cramp resigned from the company’s Board of Directors in early1907 and was not
                                     the immediate recipient of these letters;

1             10                 Correspondence, Edwin S. Cramp and Carroll S. Smith: 32 letters or telegrams, all from Smith, in chronological order, 07/31/1901 – 09/25/1905;


Box     Folder             Contents

  2            1                  Brass Foundry: correspondence about foundry, in chronological order, 06/10/1904 – 01/18/1911; financial data from foundry, in chronological order,
                                     08/31/1904 – 10/31/1910;

  2            2                  Correspondence, Miscellaneous , 61 pieces (approx.), in chronological order, nd – 10/05/1904;

  2            3                  Correspondence, Miscellaneous 2, 51 pieces (approx.), in chronological order, 08/31/1905 – 05/28/1912;

  2            4                  Correspondence, T.S.S. Mexico: 12 letters concerning this ship, in chronological order, 05/17/1906 – 06/13/1906;

  2            5                  House remodeling 1: miscellaneous materials (drawings, correspondence, etc.) on the remodeling of Edwin S. Cramp’s residence, 127 E. 61st St.,
                                     New York City, in chronological order, nd – 08/31/1903;

  2            6                  House remodeling 2: more miscellaneous materials, in chronological order, 09/01/1903 – 12/31/1903;

  2            7                  House remodeling 3:  more miscellaneous materials, in chronological order, 01/01/1904 – 06/23/1905;


Box     Folder             Contents

  3            1                  Ballistic Tests of Armor Plates: 11/30/1892, Group #6, test of 23 “Maine” Barbette plates; 03/22/1893, Group #8, test of “Texas” Redoubt plates and
                                     “Indiana” Barbette plates; 05/31/1893, Group #9, test of “Texas” Turret plates and “Puritan” Barbette plates; 02/03/1894, 02/17/1894, Group #13, test of
                                     20 “Puritan” Side Armor plates; 05/15/1894, Group #15, test of “Maine,” “Puritan,” and “Monadnock”  Turret plates; 07/20/1894, Group #14, test of 20
                                     “Indiana” Side Armor plates;

  3            2                  Blueprints: Imperial Ottoman Cruiser “Medjidia” design, 09/13/1902; Neafie and Levy “Plan of Property,” 03/21/1903; “proposed torpedo boat,”
                                     05/10/1904; letter and 3 drawings from C.H. Wheeler Condenser and Pump Co., 09/14/1905;

  3            3                  Boilers: 
                                    Engineering journal, 07/19/1901 issue, p. 80-84, article on German Navy’s Durr Boiler;

                                    Engineering journal, 07/26/1901 issue, p. 129-134, part 2 of Durr Boiler article;

                                    Engineering journal, 08/02/1901 issue, p. 164-167, part 3 of Durr Boiler article; clipped letter to editor of Engineering journal, 07/26/1901, about Durr 
                                    Boiler; letter about boilers, 10/04/1901, to Edwin Cramp from Rodman Griscom; 

                                    estimate report for boilers on U.S.S. “Tennessee,” post 10/19/1903; typed notes of conversation with Stirling Boiler Co., 10/26/1903;

                                    letter concerning boilers on Battleships Mississippi and Idaho, 12/23/1903;

                                    letter (translation of) concerning Yarrow boilers, 06/13/1904;

                                    letter concerning test of boiler at Barberton, 08/01/1904;

                                    results of tests of boilers, nos. 1 and 3, contract no. 40-B, 12/17/1904;

  3            4                  Financial Data:

                                    comparison of costs for hull nos. 216 and 219, and hull nos. 319 and 321, no date;

                                    bids for city ice boats, no date;

                                    financial statement and business statement for Wm. Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., 05/31/1903;

                                    itemized charge list for contract 208, 08/18/1903;

                                    estimated cost for New York, New Haven & Hartford R.R.Co.’s “Sea Going Tugs,” 08/25/1903;

                                    estimated cost for N.Y., et al R.R.Co.’s “Transfer Tugs,” 08/25/1903;

                                    list of price per pound of materials for U.S.S. Indiana, 08/31/03, handwritten;

                                    comparison of wages paid and average rate, 09/1903 and 09/1902;

                                    cost of contract order 208, 11/13/1903;

                                    estimated cost for Battleships Mississippi and Idaho, 01/11/1904;

                                    estimated cost for Clyde Line, 01/12/1904;

                                    estimated cost for “proposed ship,” 01/18/1904, handwritten;

                                    estimated cost for U.S. Army’s “Suction Dredge”, 05/17/1904;

                                    estimated cost for Panama Railroad Co.’s “Steamship”, 07/12/1904;

                                    bids for proposal #330, 12/16/1905;

                                    clipping from “Marine Review,” 11/06/ny(?), concerning bids for building lightships;

3              5                  Photographs:

                                    20 black and white photographs of the Imperial Russian Navy Cruiser, Variag, nd;

                                    note:  on photograph #15, the U.S.S. Alabama is also visible;

3              6                  Ship Data:

                                    blank form used to compare ship data, no date;

                                    specifications for “triple expansion engine for Goodrich Transit Co.,” no date;

                                    specifications for “proposed Staten Island Ferry Boats,” no date;

    memo on “three deck cargo steamer”, 07/03/1897;

                                    memo on “proposed single screw cargo steamer”, 01/05/1898;

                                    specifications for “proposed twin screw steamer,” 04/06/1897;

                                    specifications for “proposed passenger and freight twin screw steamer for the Pacific (China) trade,” 04/20/1897;

                                    booklet, “Cramp’s Ship Yard” for National Export Exposition, Philadelphia, 1899;

                                    comparison of “passenger accommodation between Hulls # 304 and #311,” 10/09/1901;

                                    “Engineering Data Card Magazine”(2) for “Oil Steamer – Capt. A.F. Lucas, 02/1903;

                                    comparison of “floor areas and weights per I.H.P.,” 02/27/1903;

                                    comparison of “I.H.P. per cu.ft. volume L.P. cylinder” for 26 ships, 03/21/1903;

                                    data for S.S. Philadelphia, 04/06/1903;

                                    letter about English steamers, 05/15/1903;

                                    report on the “condition of work and stage of progress” on five battleships (“Georgia,” “Nebraska,” “New Jersey,” “Rhode Island,” and “Virginia”),

                                    “velocity of steam” statistics for 10 ships, 10/19/1903;

                                    letter about English steamers, 10/21/1903;

                                    letter about turbine design/dimensions, 03/25/1904;

                                    letter about torpedo boats, 04/06/1904;

                                    letter from U.S. Navy Department, 06/20/1904;

                                     “List of Engines built by Wm. Cramp & Sons,” 11/30/1867 – 09/1904; typed list, carbon, legal length, landscape. comparison of four ships
                                     (“Tennessee,” “Montana,” “New Hampshire,” and “Maine”), 12/12/1904;

                                    correspondence about steamer “Asbury Park,” 11 pieces, in chronological order, 09/20/05 – 11/25/05;

                                    comparison of eleven ships built between 1879 and 1901, 04/05/1906;

                                    article from “The American Marine Engineer,” on the steamships Momus and Antilles, 01/1907.



(note: this in non-inclusive and is only meant as a general guide)


A                                             Box/Folder

Ashbury Park  (T.S.S.)                 3/6


Burton, Robert                             1/1


Clyde, Thomas                                        1/2

Clyde, William                                          1/2

Cramp, Benjamin                         1/3,1/6,1/1,2/2

Cramp, Charles                                        1/6

Cramp, Edwin                              Box 1, 2/2, 2/3

Crandall, James                                       ¼


Dry Dock Company (Cramp)       1/5 


Georgia (U.S.S.)                           3/6 

Groner, J.                                      1/5 

Grove, Henry                                1/7 


Lavens, Edwin                              1/8 


Mexico (T.S.S.)                                         2/4

McElhone, Philip                          1/9


Nebraska (U.S.S.)                         3/6

New Jersey (U.S.S.)                      3/6

Norris, George                              1/5


Rhode Island (U.S.S.)                   3/6


Smith, Carroll S.                           1/10, 2/5, 2/6, 2/7


United States Navy                       2/4


Variag (Russian)                           3/5

Virginia (U.S.S.)                           3/6