North Carolina Shipbuilding Collection, 1939-1979, undated

Manuscript Collection #62

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: North Carolina Shipbuilding Collection
Creators: Crabtree, Beth G.
Scott, Ralph L.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Collection including correspondence, legal papers, photographs, newspapers, etc. relating to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, and the construction of "Liberty Ships" during World War II.
Extent: 1.043 Cubic feet, 7 boxes, copies and originals consisting of correspondence, legal papers, photographs, newspapers, printed material, and miscellaneous.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

August 30, 1968, ca. 250 items; Correspondence, reports, magazines, clippings, photographs, etc., concerning the shipbuilding industry in North Carolina, particularly during the 1940s. Gift of Miss Beth G. Crabtree, Raleigh, N.C.

June 28, 1988, (addition 1) ca. 500 items; Research Notes, Photocopies of archival records and published materials pertaining to shipbuilding and the North Carolina shipbuilding company. Donor: Mr. Ralph Lee Scott.

May 21, 2008, (addition 2) 17 items, 0.084 cubic feet; Collection (14 May-22 June; 6 July-7 September; 12 October 1944) of The Independent Press newspapers, Vol. 1, no. 1-7, 9-17, 25, published by and for the employees of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, NC, relating mainly to the competition between USA, the company union, and the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) to organize the shipyard workers during World War II; photocopies of original newspapers in the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America Archives, University of Maryland at College Park, MD Library. 11" x 17". See preliminary inventory attached. Donor: Mr. Ralph Lee Scott.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

North Carolina Shipbuilding Collection (#62), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Beth G. Crabtree
  • Gift of Ralph Lee Scott

Processing Information

  • Processed by: October 1968 by Thomas H. Sloan

  • Revised May 2002 by Joshua Howard

  • Revised July 2008 by Dale Sauter

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was a subsidiary firm of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, VA. This organization arose out of the need for increased shipping brought on by World War II. NCSC produced a total of 243 ships between the years of 1941 and 1946. The ships produced were all cargo-type vessels, largely of the well-known Liberty ship variety and C-2, the more powerful successor to the Liberty.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The collection consists of an original accession and an addition. The first accession is a collection of materials donated by Ms. Beth Crabtree. Ms. Crabtree used this material for research on her book The "Zebulon B. Vance", a United States Liberty ship. The book was originally published in 1956. The addition donated by Scott contains notes and research materials used for his master's thesis. This material makes up the greater part of the collection. Scott's thesis, Welding the Sinews of War: A History of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Corporation, was completed within the History Department of East Carolina University, Greenville, NC in 1979.

The bulk of the correspondence is to Ralph Lee Scott and his adviser, Dr. William Still, and concerns Scott's research. These letters are from organizations, such as the Newport News Shipyard, as well as private individuals. Other correspondence concerns the collection of material by the North Carolina Department of Archives and History for the publication of a pamphlet on S.S. Zebulon B. Vance, the first ship to be produced at the Wilmington shipyard. Specifically, this correspondence pertains to inquiries related to Vance initiated by the director and staff of the department to a wide variety of firms and individuals.

Legal documents in the collection include transcripts, interviews, and depositions from several National Labor Relation Board cases. The majority of these represent actions taken for and against union organizations related to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. Also included are photocopies of the certificate of registry and certificate of inspection for S.S. Zebulon B. Vance, and the commission of the U.S. Army hospital ship John J. Meany. Vance was converted to the hospital ship Meany after serving as a cargo vessel to Murmansk and the European theater of war. Later the ship was again named S.S. Zebulon B. Vance and converted to an Army transport ship used to carry "war-bride" dependents of servicemen to the United States.

Other materials include those compiled by Ralph Lee Scott in the preparation of his thesis. These relate to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, North Carolina Ports Authority, and the United States Maritime Commission. The majority of the papers are production reports, copies of speeches, and safety records. Both the NC Ports Authority and US Maritime Commission played a large role in legal matters concerned with the NCSC. Also included are numerous notes and research materials compiled by Scott.

Printed materials include copies of newspaper articles, book excerpts, a biography of Zebulon B. Vance, official orders, assorted programs, itineraries, crew lists, ship publications, a personal account, and other papers relating to the activities of Vance in its varied roles. Booklets and pamphlets include The "Zebulon B. Vance", a United States Liberty ship by Beth G. Crabtree (State Department of Archives and History, 1962 edition) and Five Years of North Carolina Shipbuilding (North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, N.C., 1946). Worksheets and notes used in the preparation of a pamphlet on Vance can also be found in the collection. Among the periodicals are several issues of The North Carolina Shipbuilder, the company publication of the NCSC, several issues of Shipyard Bulletin, a company organ of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and copies of Maritime Reports and Marine Age, both shipbuilding publications.

The bulk of the photographs concern S.S. Zebulon B. Vance in its various roles of service. A sizeable portion of the photographs relate to the conversion of the ship to a hospital ship, and its activities as the same. Included is a photograph of Vance's first captain, and Vance as a transport.

Newspapers consist of several photocopied issues of The Independent Press. These issues include volumes 1, no. 1-7, 9-17 and 25 (14 May-22 June; 6 July–7 September; 12 October 1944), and were published by and for the employees of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. Topics relate mainly to the competition between USA, the company union, and the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) to organize the shipyard workers during World War II.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Geographic Entry :

  • North Carolina, Wilmington

Autograph Entry :

  • Ervin, Samuel J[ames], Jr. 1956

Subject Entries :

  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE--Ships and Shipping
  • PUBLICATIONS--Periodicals
  • TRANSPORTATION--Ships and Shipping--1941
  • TRANSPORTATION--Ships and Shipping--Wilmington, N.C.
  • U.S.--MILITARY--U.S. Army
  • VANCE, ZEBULON BAIRD
  • WAR--WORLD WAR II--Red Cross
  • WAR--WORLD WAR II--Ships and Shipping
  • WAR--WORLD WAR II--Ships and Shipping
  • WILMINGTON, N.C.

Newspaper Entries:

Wilmington, N.C.
  • Wilmington Morning Star
    • December 6, 1941
Wilmington, N.C.
  • Wilmington News
    • May 7, 1945
New York, New York City
  • New York Times
    • (partial issue), June 10, 1956

Pamphlet Entries :

Author Entries
  • Crabtree, Beth G.
  • N.C. Shipbuilding Company
Title Entries
  • The ZEBULON B. VANCE, U.S. Liberty 1962
  • Five Years of North Carolina Shipbuilding 1946

Images below are listed alphabetically by subject. This list reflects only those portions of the collection for which negatives have been prepared.

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE--Ships and Shipping
Description: Painting and construction
Call Number: p-62/64, 66

WAR--WORLD WAR II--Navy--Ships--ZEBULON B. VANCE
Location: Dec. 6, 1941
Call Number: p-62/7

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

  • Box 1#0062.1
    Correspondence 1939-1979
    • Folder a#0062.1.a
      Letters pertaining to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and S.S. Zebulon B. Vance, a hospital ship 1948-1956
    • Folder b#0062.1.b
      Letters pertaining to the surplus yards located in Wilmington, North Carolina after World War II 1947-1951
    • Folder c#0062.1.c
      Letters pertaining to the founding and building of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company 1939-1942
    • Folder d#0062.1.d
      Correspondence from various persons to both Ralph Scott and William Still 1975-1977
    • Folder e#0062.1.e
      Correspondence between various persons and William Still, Ralph Scott's thesis director 1975-1979
  • Box 2#0062.2
    Printed Materials 1941-1975, undated
    • Folder a#0062.2.a
      Clippings (Newport News Daily Press) concerning building of shipyards, union organization, and the anti-union NLRB cases 1941-1945
    • Folder b#0062.2.b
      Clippings (Raleigh News & Observer) concerning the actions against unions, the NC Ship. Co.'s operations and wartime activities in Wilmington 1941-1949
    • Folder c#0062.2.c
      Clippings (Shipyard Worker) concerning the evolution of the NC Shipbuilding Company, workers, and ship production. 1942-1946
    • Folder d#0062.2.d
      Clippings (Wilmington Morning Star) concerning the evolution of the shipyards, ships built at the NCSB, and the economy of Wilmington 1941-1949
    • Folder e#0062.2.e
      Typewritten histories of S.S. Zebulon B. Vance1941, undated
    • Folder f#0062.2.f
      Materials related to the history of S.S. John Meany, including copies of the ship's newspaper, Compass1944, undated
    • Folder g#0062.2.g
      Book titled Five Years of North Carolina Shipbuilding, eleven copies of Shipyard Bulletin, and Marine Age1941-1945
    • Folder h#0062.2.h
      Various copies of articles and chapters pertaining to shipping and Wilmington 1946, undated
    • Folder i#0062.2.i
      Book titled Zebulon B. Vance: U.S. Liberty Ship. publ. 1962. NC Dept. of Archives and History by Beth Crabtree 1962
    • Folder j#0062.2.j
      Chapters of books and articles from South Atlantic Quarterly and The Navy and Industrial Mobilization in WWII1949-1951, undated
    • Folder k#0062.2.k
      Book on USS North Carolina, chapter copies from Ships of the American Merchant Fleet, Fortune Magazine, Nov. 1936 and July 1943, Ships For Freedom and Report of Special Committee on National Defense1936-1975
  • Box 3#0062.3
    Legal Papers 1941-1946
    • Folder a#0062.3.a
      Documents related to S.S Zebulon B. Vance and S.S. John J. Meany, 1942
    • Folder b#0062.3.b
      Legal documents of Case R5455 and 5-C-1237, statements and responses concerning union practices, depositions, etc. From National Archives RG25, 1943
    • Folder c#0062.3.c
      Legal documents of Case 5-R-1528, actual transcripts of case involving union elections, petitions and decisions of the NLRB. From NA RG 25 and 280 1943-1944
    • Folder d#0062.3.d
      Legal documents of Case 5-C-1565 involving illegal practices versus the unionization of workers, statements, etc. From NA RG 25 1942-1946
    • Folder e#0062.3.e
      Photocopy of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company bylaws 1941-1943
  • Box 4#0062.4
    Reports 1941-1976, undated
    • Folder a#0062.4.a
      Various reports and records concerning Wilmington and the NC Shipbuilding Company 1941-1942, undated
    • Folder b#0062.4.b
      Reports ranging from Wilmington population to the lunch menu from the shipyard's café 1942-1944, undated
    • Folder c#0062.4.c
      Materials related to the history of S.S. Zebulon B. Vance1946-1948, undated
    • Folder d#0062.4.d
      Materials relating to the use of power and light by the NC Shipbuilding Company 1942-1947, undated
    • Folder e#0062.4.e
      Financial reports of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company 1944-1951, undated
    • Folder f#0062.4.f
      Papers of the NCSPA relationship with the North Carolina Shipbuilding company. Documents from North Carolina State Archives, Perkins Library, Duke University, and Nat. Archives RG 178 1945-1963
    • Folder g#0062.4.g
      Reports related to the use of the Wilmington shipyard and port depths 1958-1967, undated
    • Folder h#0062.4.h
      Reports related to the NC Shipbuilding Company and various other shipyards including Newport News, Virginia 1943-1945
    • Folder i#0062.4.i
      NC Shipbuilding Company production reports, speeches, interviews with workers, etc. From NA RG 178 and 179 1941-1976
    • Folder j#0062.4.j
      Copies of reports titled Employing Women in Shipyards by the Women's Bureau and A Statistical Summary of the Wilmington Area by the US Dept. of Labor. Also records pertaining to the Department of Defense 1943-1946, undated
    • Folder k#0062.4.k
      Copy of Gerald Fischer's A Statistical Summary of Shipbuilding Under the US Maritime Commission During WWII. Hist. Reports of War Administration, 1949
  • Box 5#0062.5
    Research Materials 1944-1977, undated
    • Folder a#0062.5.a
      An interview transcript and several pages of handwritten research notes, 1944, undated
    • Folder b#0062.5.b
      Notecards, handwritten notations concerning the history of S.S. Zebulon B. Vance1944-1948, undated
    • Folder c#0062.5.c
      Various typewritten and handwritten notes undated
    • Folder d#0062.5.d
      Materials such as hand written research notes on notebook paper and a typewritten copy of a thesis chapter, undated
    • Folder e#0062.5.e
      Edited copy of Ralph Scott's thesis, 1977
  • Box 7#0062.7
    • Folder a#0062.7.a
      The Independent Press (photocopies). 17 Issues
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 1 "Yard's Workers Accept USA: Outsiders' Drive Is Halted." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 5/14/1944  (item #1)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 2 "CIO Humiliates World War Fighters." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 5/18/1944  (item #2)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 3 "More Income Seen Under USA." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 5/25/1944  (item #3)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 4 "USA Shows Steady Membership Gains." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 6/1/1944  (item #4)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 5 "Ships Built in Carolina Yard Participate in Invasion Move." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 6/8/1944  (item #5)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 6 "CIO Strikes Despite Invasion; Bond Drive Starts With 'Whoop.'" Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 6/15/1944  (item #6)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 7 "CIO Gets Another Drubbing in Vote." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 6/22/1944  (item #7)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 9 "Workers Ready to Vote Against CIO; Voting Ordered But Exact Date Is Yet to be Set." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 7/6/1944 Note: #8 missing.  (item #8)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 10 "Workers Rally to USA Standard; Future Clear-Cut In NLRB Vote.; White and Colored Workers Join in Move for Drubbing of CIO Union in Next Vote." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 7/13/1944  (item #9)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 11 "CIO Union Hanging on Ropes; Record of Yard Brings Contract for More Ships; Defeat Looms for Radicals; USA Is Gaining." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 7/20/1944  (item #10)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 12 "CIO Union Crawls Out of Vote Fate; USA Protests NLRB Vote Delay; USA Appeal Asks for Election in Yard as Planned." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 7/27/1944  (item #11)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 13 "Watch CIO Warning is Sounded Here; They're Beat But They Will Start Up Anew." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 8/3/1944  (item #12)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 14 USA Confidently Waits for Election; CIO Sounds Its Usual Wail of 'Unfair' Labor Practices; CIO Now Quiet, But Workers in Yard Must Watch." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 8/10/1944  (item #13)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 15 "Defeated CIO Issues Usual Threats; Organizers Rant About Situation; Seek More Dues." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 8/17/1944  (item #14)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 46 [16] "Radicals' False Claims Bared in Yard; USA Wants Bargaining Agency in N. C. Yard; Independents Wait Reply of Company Heads." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 8/31/1944  (item #15)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 47 [17] "Victory of Independents Scored at Newport News Rocks CIO Here; Defeat of Radical Outfit is Hailed; USA is Confident." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 9/7/1944  (item #16)
      • The Independent Press, Vol. 1, No. 25 "Land Appeals for Speedy Building of Ships Here for Big Offensives; All-Out Production Urged in Telegram Sent to Yard Here." Published by and for the employees of the N. C. Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina. Photocopy of original newspaper. 11" x 17". 10/12/1944  (item #17)

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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