National Cruise Scrapbooks, 1931-1934
On July 2, 1931, USS Constitution and a crew of 81 sailors, officers, and Marines set off on a three-year, three-coast tour around the United States. This National Cruise was a public “thank you” to the men, women, and children who, from 1925-1930, helped raise over $985,000 to completely restore the ailing ship.
Stopping at over 70 ports along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the United States, Constitution and her crew sent entire communities into patriotic frenzies. Hailed as honored guests in these ports, the crews of Constitution and her minesweeper-class tow, USS Grebe, were invited to parties and dances, dinners with local politicians and dignitaries, sporting events and festivals. In return, Constitution’s officers and crew gave talks and lectures, made public appearances, and performed radio dramatizations of her most famous battles to reach as large an audience as possible.
Several crewmembers created scrapbooks to memorialize this once-in-a-lifetime trip, gathering postcards and photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations to dinners and dances, invitations to dinners and dances, commemorative medals, cachets, hatband tallies, and even local brewery labels. More than just rich documentation of Constitution‘s activities during this period, these scrapbooks offer historical and cultural insight into the culture of the Great Depression itself.
Some of the most uniquely personal items in the Museum’s collections, each of these books was in serious danger of being lost forever. Time, age, acidic adhesives, and poor manufacturing left the books worn and crumbling, falling apart with even minimal handling. To ensure the continued life of these popular items and to prevent any further damage, each book was recommended for professional conservation treatment. Thanks to major funding provided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, these remarkable books will continue to inspire researchers and visitors alike.
The USS Constitution Museum would like to thank the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which made possible the professional conservation of the National Cruise Scrapbooks with funds from LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act), a Federal source of library funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Further assistance was generously provided by the Boston Marine Society and the Frank M. Barnard Foundation.
The Museum would also like to acknowledge the Northeast Document Conservation Center for their unparalleled work in helping to preserve these treasures.
The generosity, time, and dedication of these organizations ensures that these unique, personal books will be available for future generations of researchers, the Museum community, and the public at large. Thank you.