Skip to main content

Frederick W. Wood photographs

1880-1949
 Collection
Accession: 1975-330

Abstract

Frederick William Wood (1857-1943) was an executive and engineer in the steel and shipbuilding industries. The Frederick W. Wood photographs document the career of Frederick W. Wood in the steel and shipbuilding industries, most notably his time working for Pennsylvania Steel Company at Steelton, Pennsylvania, Maryland Steel Company and Bethlehem Steel Company at Sparrows Point, Maryland, and the American International Shipbuilding Corporation at Hog Island Shipyard, located in Pennsylvania on the Delaware River. Researchers interested in the steel and iron industries, the shipbuilding industry, company towns, and the regional history of the greater Philadelphia and Baltimore areas would find this collection useful.

Dates

  • 1880-1949

Creator

Extent

13.25 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Frederick William Wood (1857-1943) was an executive and engineer in the steel and shipbuilding industries. Wood was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on March 18, 1857, to William Wood (1819-1890) and Elizabeth French Kidder (1819-1903).

After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1877 with a degree in mining engineering, Wood started working for the Pennsylvania Steel Company as a ladleman's helper in Steelton, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Steel Company began construction of Steelton, the country's first steel-producing company town, in 1866 under the leadership of Samuel Morse Felton Sr. (1809–1889).

Because local ore supplies were limited, Wood was sent from 1882 to 1883 to prospect and develop ore deposits along the Rio Juragua near Santiago, Cuba. His successful performance led to rapid promotion within the Pennsylvania Steel Company. In 1885, he was commissioned to locate a tidewater site where the imported ore could easily be combined with American coal. Wood selected Sparrow's Point, a site located in Baltimore County, Maryland, along the Chesapeake.

Beginning in 1887, Wood oversaw the design and construction of a company town and steel plant at Sparrows Point. The site was incorporated in 1891 as a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Steel Company, the Maryland Steel Company, with Wood as president. A shipyard was also constructed at Sparrows Point in addition to the existing steel plant.

In 1916, the entire Pennsylvania Steel Company system was sold to Bethlehem Steel Company under the leadership of Charles M. Schwab (1862-1939). Since Wood was not a major stockholder, he did not profit from the sale. He was allowed to stay on as manager of the Sparrows Point plant, but he chafed under Bethlehem's supervision and resigned in 1918.

From 1918 to 1921, Wood served as vice president of the American International Shipbuilding Corporation and oversaw its shipyard at Hog Island, located on the Delaware River south of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The American International Shipbuilding Corporation was charged with providing ships to the American Merchant Marine during World War I and was under contract with the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. Wood played a major role in the construction and operation of Hog Island Shipyard as part of this government contract. Hog Island's first ship, or "Hog Islander," was the Quistconck, christened on August 5, 1918. The term "Quistconck" was historically used by the Lenape people to describe the island as a place for hogs. The Hog Island Shipyard ceased operations in 1921. From 1921 to 1923, Wood was a member of the Claims Commission of the United States Shipping Board (USSB). He was also involved with the Eastern Rolling Mill Steel Company of Baltimore since its organization in 1919 and served as Chairman of the Board from 1933 until 1943. In his later life, Wood was also active in Baltimore civic affairs and was a member of the executive committee of Johns Hopkins University from 1913 to 1943. Frederick Wood died in Baltimore on December 23, 1943.

Scope and Contents

The Frederick W. Wood photographs document the career of Frederick W. Wood, an executive in the steel and shipbuilding industries. Wood worked for the Pennsylvania Steel Company beginning in 1877 and went on to become the president of its subsidiary, the Maryland Steel Company, in 1891. As president of Maryland Steel, Wood oversaw the construction and operations of Sparrows Point steel mill and shipyard. Wood continued to manage Sparrows Point when Bethlehem Steel Company purchased Pennsylvania Steel and its subsidiaries in 1916, but he resigned in 1918 to serve as the vice president for the American International Shipbuilding Corporation, a position he held until 1921. Researchers interested in the steel and iron industries, the shipbuilding industry, company towns, and the regional history of the greater Philadelphia and Baltimore areas would find this collection useful.

The collection is organized into six series: Pennsylvania Steel Company, Spanish-American Iron Company of Cuba, Caribbean Manganese Company, Maryland Steel Company, Bethlehem Steel Company, American International Shipbuilding Corporation, and Hog Island Shipyard. Series are ordered by company or corporation and then arranged chronologically following Wood’s career.

The Pennsylvania Steel Company series documents the construction of Steelton, the country’s first steel-producing company town, as well as the mining operations conducted there. Includes photographs of the steel mills, prominent town buildings, and published materials such as business cards.

The Spanish-American Iron Company of Cuba series documents the time Wood spent in and around Santiago, Cuba, from 1882 to 1883, as well as materials Wood acquired from the Spanish-American Iron Company. The Pennsylvania Steel Company directed Wood to scout ore deposits in this region because of diminishing local supplies. Materials document Spanish-American Iron Company mining operations, including ore deposits, mining infrastructure, railroads, and individual mines. The series also includes scenes of the Cuban landscape, residences, downtown areas, and the local population.

The Caribbean Manganese Company series documents the work conducted by the Caribbean Manganese Company in Panama circa 1900, including tunnel construction and mining operations.

The Maryland Steel Company series, which makes up the bulk of the collection, documents the construction and operation of Sparrows Point steel mill, which began in 1887, the construction and operation of Sparrows Point shipyard, which began in 1889, and the town of Sparrows Point. Materials related to the steel mill include the construction of the steel plants and furnaces, proposed arrangements for loading rails and ore handling infrastructure, ore samples and ore handling operations, mechanical readings, and interior and exterior views of the steel mills. Materials related to the shipyard include the construction of the shipyard, the construction of numerous hulls, engines, and a dry dock, as well as steamships, battleships, freighters, steamboats, tugboats, and dredges that were constructed at Sparrows Point. Materials related to the town of Sparrows Point include street views, residences, and town facilities.

The Bethlehem Steel Company series documents Wood’s time managing Sparrows Point under new Bethlehem Steel leadership. The series includes the launch of the SS Cubore from Sparrows Point in 1917, a ship model, a dry dock, and aerial views of the shipyard published in 1940.

The American International Shipbuilding Corporation, Hog Island Shipyard series documents the construction and operation of Hog Island Shipyard, located in Pennsylvania on the Delaware River, from 1917 to 1921. Includes ship construction, hull erection, several ship launchings, including the Quistonck and Cantigny, and visitors, spectators, and executives at the shipyard.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Film material is located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at askhagley@hagley.org

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Materials

Frederick W. Wood papers (Accession 0084), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Frederick W. Wood photographs
Status:
Author:
Peyton Cleary
Date:
2022
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400