3 volumes (231 items: 33 typed pages and 198 gelatin silver black-and-white photographic prints, sizes ranging from 3.5 x
10.5 in. to 8 x 10 in.)
Scope and Content Note
Includes photographs of various views of Monterey clipper fishing boats, fishermen and the fishing trade, and boat shops.
Also includes transcripts of interviews with Monterey clipper boat builders and fishermen.
Photographs and transcripts were received in three binders, which were numbered by the staff as Volumes 1-3. All three of
the binders contained black-and-white photographs in non-archival plastic sleeves and albums with self-stick pages. For preservation
purposes, the materials were removed from the binders and rehoused. They have been kept in their original groupings (volumes
1-3) and left in their original order within each volume.
Some of the plastic sleeves and pages in the binders had red numbers (made with a label machine) attached to them. These numbers
were assigned by Douthit and it is unknown what the numbers refer to. Not all of the photographs were assigned numbers. Since
the sleeves were removed during rehousing, this information has been transferred to the back of the photographs. Where numbers
were assigned by Douthit, they were noted on the back. All photographs have been numbered sequentially within each binder
(volumes 1-3) in order to ensure that original order is maintained.
From the time of the Gold Rush up until the twentieth century, the fishing fleet of San Francisco was predominantly comprised
of lateen-rigged sail boats that were mostly operated by Italian immigrants. These boats were copies of vessels used in Italy
and many of the boat shops that built these vessels were operated by Italians, Italian Americans, and their families. The
second generation of fishing boats in San Francisco came with the introduction of the gasoline motor. These vessels are also
known as Monterey clippers, or Put-Puts. These dependable small boats, not generally more than 30 feet in hull length, were
all built of the same Monterey hull style. Many of the boats were named after saints or the wives of boat builders and fishermen.
These boats were built from wood, usually with cedar planking and oak frames, and most had a one-cylinder gasoline engine.
The gas engines enabled fishermen to be on the water more days out of the year, to add distance to their travel, and to add
power for hauling in
their nets and lines. Eventually, as fishing with small boats became less profitable, the Monterey hull design was used for
the building of recreational vessels.
The Monterey clippers were first used to fish for shrimp, but then they were used for gillnetting for local bay fish, trolling
for ocean fish, and pulling in crabs. In the 1920s, there were as many as 500 Monterey clippers working out of San Francisco.
Starting in the 1930s, the sardine trade was profitable and more canneries sprang up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Monterey
clippers were vital to this industry. Up to World War II, it is estimated that 2,000 San Francisco fishermen were employed
in the trade, being a primary industry for Italians and Italian Americans living in and around San Francisco. The last Italian
boats were built in the San Francisco Bay Area by around World War II. By the 1950s, when the sardine trade was in decline
and larger commercial fishing boats were in favor, there were as few as 200 boats that remained and estimates from 2006 speculate
that there were as few as 25 Monterey clippers remaining at Fisherman's Wharf at that time.
"History of Fisherman's Wharf." Accessed on January 24, 2012 from http://web.archive.org/web/20060615210338/http://fishermanswharf.org/History.htm
"Tiny boats that made the Wharf are sinking." Carl Nolte. 3 July 2006. San Francisco Chronicle. Accessed January 24, 2012
Arranged into two subseries: Subseries 1.1: Photograph albums of Monterey clipper fishing boats, boat builders, and fisherman
and Subseries 1.2: Oral Histories and photographs of the interviewees