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Empire State I Logbooks, 1931-1941

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: CA-RG1-0005

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the logbooks from the U.S.S Empire State one of the training ships used by the New York State Nautical School (now SUNY Maritime College) to train young men for the merchant marines and the naval reserves. A ship’s logbook is a daily record of the ship’s course, speed and location. Navigational, piloting and other notable events occurring in and around the ship are also recorded in a ship’s logbook. Logbooks serve as a reminder to the officers of the deck of their various duties and to serve as a check on the activities of these officers. They are also maintained to serve as potential evidence in legal proceedings in naval, admiralty, or civil courts.

The Empire State’s logbooks contain the above information as well as facts concerning weather and sea conditions and the effect of these conditions on the ship. There are entries regarding deliveries made to the ship, records of inspections, emergency drills and the activities of the various officers including when these officers are aboard or ashore.

This collection is comprised of both rough logbooks and smooth logbooks. A rough (or scrap) log is a preliminary draft of the ship’s record that is written by hand on the ship daily. The rough log is then transcribed as the smooth log, which is the final version of the ship’s record and considered the official log. Changes can be made to rough logs but a smooth log is considered permanent and erasures are not permitted. Corrections can be made to a smooth log as long as it is signed by the authorized keeper of the logbook and must only be made by drawing one line through the previous entry thereby leaving the previous entry legible.


  • 1931 - 1941


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Appointments to examine materials must be made in advance. Please e-mail for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproductions may be provided to users to support research and scholarship. However, collection use is subject to all copyright laws. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Historical Note

The U.S.S. Empire State replaced the U.S.S. Newport as the training ship for the New York State Merchant Marine Academy (now SUNY Maritime College) in 1931. The Superintendent at the time, Captain James H. Tomb, made the case for a new training ship by arguing that the Newport was inadequate due to its size and that the cadets no longer needed training on the use of sail and would be better served focusing their studies on steam engines and the business of shipping. New York State Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed and urged the Navy to find a more suitable training ship for the academy. At first the Navy was hesitant to donate a ship to a state run academy but Governor Roosevelt suggested amending the school’s policy to allow admission to out of state students who would be required to pay for boarding. This satisfied the Navy and they donated the U.S.S. Procyon which was larger than the Newport and entirely powered by steam. The ship’s name was changed to the Empire State on the suggestion of Governor Roosevelt and it served as the school’s training ship until the United States joined World War II in 1941. At that time control of the ship was turned over to the Maritime Commission and the ship’s name was changed to the American Pilot.

School Name Chronology

1873 – 1913: New York Nautical School
1913 – 1929: New York State Nautical School
1929 – 1941: New York State Merchant Marine Academy
1941 – 1949: New York State Maritime Academy
1949 – Present: State University of New York Maritime College


11 Linear Feet (19 bound volumes and 9 archival flat boxes)

Arrangement of Materials

Materials are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer documentation or deeds of gift have not been located for these items. Presumably they were transfered to the library in the 1940s once the school established its shoreside campus at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx.

Related Materials

Empire State I Records, 1927-1979 Identifier: CA-RG1-0003

SUNY Maritime College Photograph Collection, circa 1874-1999 Identifier: CA-RG14-0001


Williams, Joseph A. (2013). Four years before the mast: A history of New York's maritime college. Bronx, NY: Fort Schuyler Press.

Processing Information

At some point in the past, some of these logbooks were bound. Presumably this action was taken by library staff.


This project was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department. The collection was processed by Project Archivist Jannette D'Esposito under the supervision of Archivist Annie Tummino.
Empire State I Logbooks, 1931-1941
Jannette L. D'Esposito
November 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen B. Luce Library Repository

6 Pennyfield Avenue
Bronx NY 10465 United States
(718) 409-7231