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June 21, 2008

American Shipmasters Association Examination New York

Here is another genealogy inscription spotted on a framed certificate in an antique shop in Massachusetts

American Shipmasters Association Examination New York

Benjamin A. Sheldon
March -- 1873

Nautical Science & Seamanship

Approved Shipmates


-- Taylor
Ambrose Snow
T. W. Ellison
Geo. W. Black
T. ----

Note: The American Shipmasters' Association was organized in 1861 to improve the American Mercantile Marine Service and the general skill and moral character of those in the seamen's profession. Licenses had previously been issued intermittently by the United States Steamboat Inspection Service, but no continuous effort had been made until John D. Hones formed the American Shipmasters'Association in 1861. The Association was made up of maritime insurers, shipbuilders, government officials and maritime experts.

The ASA began issuing certificates to qualified mates and masters of sailing vessels receiving the first application from Captain Isaiah Pratt in September 1861.

To receive a certificate, seamen had to meet rigorous requirements, including six years experience at sea and a high score on the nautical science and seaman ship
examinations administered by the ASA. Applicants also had to produce testimonials to their good character.

Each certificate was valid for one year and could be renewed annually. Seamen retained their ASA numbers for life and a number once used was never reissued.

The ASA continued its program of certification until 1900, by which time Federal law required that most shipmasters be licensed by the federal governmentof the United States. It then became known as the American Bureau of Shipping.


Peter Dorr said...

Where did you see this certificate.
Do you know where I Might find a list or register containing all the certificates issured. Looking for the certificate of Julius Cesar Sturgis


Genealogy Blogger said...

I'm afraid everything I remember about this certificate was posted on my blog. As to where I saw it, all I can do is repeat my blog post:

"on a framed certificate in an antique shop in Massachusetts"

I don't have any particular interest in American Shipmasters, I only took note of this because there were names on it that might help someone find an ancestor.


jdelauche said...

I just found this blog and the comments. The American Shipmasters' Association seems to have published an annual list of certified ship masters (captains) and mates starting in 1862. The published list (in book format) was entitled:

So far, I have only found an 1862 full-text list of certified ship masters and mates online (Google Books): HAND-BOOK OF MARINE INSURANCE AND AVERAGE by Francis B. Dixon, New York: Henry Spear, 1862. The list of ship masters and mates who were certified by the American Shipmasters' Assoc. by that time starts in the Appendix of the publication on page 290. The list is in numerical order by the number of the certificate issued to each man, starting with Certificate #1 through #1307 and not in surname alphabetical order.

In case you wish to look through the list this is the link to the 1862 HAND-BOOK in Google Books (TinyURL link):

Other than that, there are a few libraries in the USA which hold various editions (publication years) of the list:
–1864 and 1869 volumes: The Peabody Essex Museum Library, Salem, Mass.
-1862 volume: Univ. of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Golda Meir Library, Geographical Society Collection, Milwaukee, Wis.
-1862 volume: Rugters Univ. Library, New Brunswick, N.J.
-1862 volume: New York Univ. Library/New York Historical Society Collection, New York, N.Y.
-1864 & 1869 volumes: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Maritime Research Center, San Francisco, Calif.
- 1866 volume: New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.
- 1879 volume, American Bureau of Shipping. List of persons who have applied to the association for certificates to date of July 1, 1879: New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.

I think all of the volumes are in "special collections," meaning they do not circulate, requiring a researcher to visit one of the libraries and consult a volume on-site.

I realize my reply is 6 years after this blog. I am posting the info because I just found this blog and recently compiled the info on the American Shipmasters' Assoc. lists for my own reference.

Best wishes.

jdelauche said...

It also looks like the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Va. holds an 1886 volume of the REGISTER OF APPROVED SHIPMASTERS AND OFFICERS.

Note: If travel to any of the places holding a volume of the REGISTER is not possible, one could try telephoning one or more of the repositories, talk with a reference librarian/researcher and find out what the fee might be for someone to check the particular REGISTER held for an ancestor's name.