U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service (Toledo, OH) Records

 Collection
Identifier: GLMS-0035

Collection Overview

Abstract

Present are records of the Toledo, OH office of the Steamboat Inspection Service for the years 1870-1931. Included are tensile strength test reports for boiler plate samples (1900-1931), lists of licensed assistant engineers (1890-1907), and lists of licensed pilots (1870-1908).

Dates

  • 1870-1931
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1908

Extent

1 Cubic Feet (1 records storage carton)

Creator

Scope and Contents

This one cubic foot collection contains records of the Toledo, Ohio office of the Steamboat Inspection Service for the years 1870-1931. Included are tensile strength test reports for boiler plate samples (1900-1931), lists of licensed assistant engineers (1890-1907), and lists of licensed pilots (1870-1908). The strength reports are arranged chronologically, while the lists are arranged by first letter of the last name and thereunder chronologically.

The lists of licensees provide researchers with genealogical information on persons employed in the Great Lakes shipping industry. Lists provide dates of issue for licenses, name of licensee, number of licenses, number of renewals, name of boat on which licensee was employed on date of last license, and the route for which the license was issued The reports on boilerplate strength reflect the safety concerns of the Steamboat Inspection Service as it monitored construction and maintenance of steam vessels. The test reports from 1915 to 1931 also record part of the lengthy transition into having such functions performed by the Coast Guard after its founding.

Agency History

The history of the Steamboat Inspection Service was a lengthy one marked by the increased interest on the part of the U.S. government in regulating maritime commerce. Before there were steamboats for such a service to inspect, the first Congress passed navigation laws in 1789 enforced by customs officers from the Treasury Department. The development of steam vessels by the 1830s necessitated a change in the system for enforcing navigation and commerce regulations.

In 1832 14% of all steamboats in the U.S. exploded due to faulty construction. More than one thousand lives were lost. A preliminary form of inspection service began in 1838 when hulls and boilers received increasingly intense scrutiny. Safety equipment became standardized and was mandatory. By 1852 legislation to create the Steamboat Inspection Service was ready for enactment. Inspection duties were assigned in geographical districts and the Service was under way.

By 1884 navigation issues and regulation enforcement had become increasingly complex. A Bureau of Navigation was added to the Treasury Department for administering navigation laws. In 1903 both the Bureau of Navigation and the Steamboat Inspection Service were transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor. Noncommercial regulatory activities began to accompany inspections of commercial vessels. An annual increase of 45% in motorboat accidents from 1904 to 1910 resulted in inspection of small pleasure craft as well as steamboats.

The Bureau of Navigation and the Steamboat Inspection Service were merged in 1932 to form the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection. In 1936 the name was changed to the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation.

During World War II administrative streamlining placed the inspection duties once performed by the Steamboat Inspection Service under the Coast Guard. This occurred on what was then viewed as a temporary basis in 1942, but was made permanent in 1946. The work begun in 1852 by the Steamboat Inspection Service continues today through the efforts of the Coast Guard.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is in the public domain.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Toledo, OH, on July 23, 1975.

Processing Information

Final processing of this one cubic foot collection was completed in January 1992 by Mark J. Barnes.

Title
Guide to the U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service (Toledo, OH) records
Author
Mark Sprang
Date
June 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English