Re: US War Shipping Administration
Posted by: Der Lange
Date: May 12, 2007 05:42AM
I am delighted to read you are following up your wonderful earlier volume. As a marine historian, I have found your work exceptionally helpful.
I am not exactly sure these comments will lead to answers for your questions, but perhaps they will toss a few more pieces into the puzzle. I am preparing the history of two WWII casualties, the SS Cyrus H. McCormick and the UK tanker Empire gold. In doing this research I have found in the McCormick files many mentions of the "GAA" ("General Agent Agreement") contract made by the WSA with W.R. Chamberlin & Co. of San Francisco. In additon, I have found that the American President Line held a sub-contract with Chamberlin for management of the vessel once she sailed from the East Coast, while in England and ports of liberated Europe there were sub-agents as well. (This explains one of a few tiny, minor inaccuracies in some of the various lists of ship losses.)
The point is that you may find the answers to your questions in the "GAA" contract records and various files of correspondence for the ships.
I looked up the company names you listed in Frederic C. Lane's authoritative "Ships for victory" and did not find them there - nor in 3 other standard references for Liberty ships and other WSA vessels. However, if you are willing to endure the tedium of reading Lane's very detailed treatment of the administration of the fleets, you will find there discussions of how many companies were flung together to grab some government contracts - and did not always succeed. You can follow that information and the references through the research ant trail to the correspondence of the different WSA officials responsible for those contracts; perhaps these firms were sub-agents of some kind, or never succeeded in winning contracts.
Ultimately, of course, you can search corporate registrations. If these were fully-formed companies, their records will be in the variouts states' archives. In California this is the purview of the Secretary of State, Department of Corporations. Having names of pesons affiliated with the different firms would be exceptionally helpful.
And in the meantime, it would overjoy ME if you happened to know who was managing the Empire Gold when she was lost in April, 1945!
Please let us know when your volume is ready, you already have at least ONE customer for a first edition!