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Crockett, David (1928-1989) | Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

Name: Crockett, David (1928-1989)

Historical Note:

David Crockett (1928-1989), the collector of this material, was a long-time fan of American steamships and an authority on Maine steamboating in particular.  In addition to the work he did as a volunteer over the years for the Steamship Historical Society of America, even serving as president, Crockett found time to start many models.  He collected plans and articles on many of these.  He wrote a paper Towboating on the Kennebec: a story of lumber, ice, and the Morse family for Maine Maritime Museum's 1975 symposium on American maritime history.  His collection of steamship company ephemera, especially for Eastern Steamship Co., is extensive.  He also collected hundreds of photographs and postcards of steamships and numerous news clippings.

            By profession Crockett was an electro-optics engineer with a degree in engineering physics from the University of Maine (1951) who worked for Honeywell Electro Optics outside Boston for many years.

            Among the papers in Crockett's collection are numerous pieces from his long-time friend and fellow steamboat buff Joseph (Jay, his professional name which he gradually adopted for all purposes) Allen, Jr. (1905-1975).  Allen's love affair with steamships apparently began at the age of one month when he was taken by steamboat from Boston (after a train ride from New York City) to Seal Harbor on Mt. Desert with his family for the summer.  [See Box 10/1.]  He spent as many summers as possible there at Grayrock for the rest of his life, traveling by steamship until it was no longer possible.  He held Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Harvard.  By profession he was a musician/ music teacher/ music librarian at the University of Illinois in Urbana.  There is an excellent obituary in Steamboat Bill, No. 136, Winter 1975, p. 195.

            Allen was involved in the formation of the American Steamship Historical Society and in 1935 of the Steamship Historical Society of America.  He was an active member, serving on the national Board for many years, as well as in the regional chapters.  He also co-founded in 1940 Steamboat Bill, later the magazine of S. H. S. A. and wrote a long series of columns called "Heard on the Fantail."

            His principal love, however, was the J. T. Morse (sidewheel steamer), a regular on the Boston to Mt. Desert run and one with which Allen was personally familiar.  As he was doing the research for his first article on the steamer in 1933-1934, he was lucky enough to be able to interview or correspond with company officials, former officers and crew, and myriad passengers.  He continued to research the Morse for the remainder of his life.

            Throughout his life he collected steamship ephemera, postcards, and photographs, often copying the latter from friends' collections.  Much of this kind of material was readily available when he first started it is now rare.  Whether he turned all this material over to his friend Crockett before his death is not known, but Crockett did incorporate it into his own material.

            Nothing is known about Millard Howarth, some of whose photographs are also included in this collection, or how Crockett acquired these photos.

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