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Cecil Northrop Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AP-0024

Content Description

This collection provides an intimate picture of Cecil Northrop's life at sea in the 1920s as a cadet in traning and merchant mariner. Northrop kept extensive diaries (handwritten and typed) where he recorded his impressions of life aboard the ship, foreign ports visited, people he met on his travels, and relationships with friends, family, and love interests. It appears Northrop was compiling some of the manuscripts into essays, and viewed his writing as part of the great sea narrative tradition popularized by Richard Henry Dana in the 1840s. Complementing the diaries are sea certificates and licenses, course and distance logs, and photographs.

Some of the diary pages were typed by Cecil himself, and others were transcribed by his son, William, when he was a teenager. At this point it is unknown which pages were typed by Cecil and which by William.


  • 1919 - 1941


Language of Materials

Materials are all in English, with the exception of a few international postage stamps inside one of Northrop's diaries.

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.

Cecil Northrop's manuscripts enter the public domain May 21, 2019 (life of the author + 70 years).

Biographical Note

Cecil Pinckney Northrop was born September 7, 1901 in Brooklyn, NY. He first shipped out to sea on a freighter in 1919. He entered the New York State Nautical School (now SUNY Maritime College) in 1921. As a student he trained on the Schoolship Newport. After graduating in 1922 he worked as fourth officer on a freighter from 1922-1923. From 1923-27 he worked as a third and then second officer aboard Dollar Line's S.S. President Hayes "Round the World" cruises.

On February 1, 1927 Northrop married Lucy Stewart of Washington, Pennsylvania, whom he met on one of the cruises. That same year he retired from the seafaring life and become editor of the Dominion-Post newspaper in Morgantown, West Virginia.

In the 1930s Northrop trained as airline pilot and joined the Pennsylvania Airlines. Between 1940-1944 he worked with the Airlines War Training Institute, formed in 1939 to train transport pilots for coming war. Northrop served as chairman of the Celestial Navigation Committee and later as supervisor of pilot training.

From 1945 to 1949 Northrop served as vice-president of Observer Publishing Company in Washington, PA. On May 21, 1949 he died of a heart attack. Northrop was survived by his wife, Lucy, and two children, John L.S. Northrop and William B. Northrop.


1.25 Linear Feet (1 standard size archival document box and one flat box)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers donated to the Stephen B. Luce Library by William B. Northrop (Cecil Northrop's son) in May 2018.

Related Materials at SUNY Maritime

Newport Schoolship Records, 1896-1970:

Newport Schoolship Logbooks, 1920-1931:

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Papers documenting Cecil Northrop's aviation career have been donated to the Smithsonian.

Processing Information

Processed by Annie Tummino in spring 2019 as part of an assignment for the class "Maritime Digital Archives/Humanities" taught by Professor John Rocco, SUNY Maritime College Graduate Program of Maritime and Naval Studies.

Cecil Northrop Papers, 1919 - 1941
Annie Tummino
February 2019
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

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