This photograph shows the christening of the freighter Cape Race ...

Black and white photograph of a woman christening the hull of a large ship

This photograph shows the christening of the freighter Cape Race, which took place on this date, April 3, in 1944. The C1-A freighter was one of a number of similar ships built by the Pusey & Jones Corporation for the for U.S. Maritime Commission. Honors for christening this ship went to Mary Railey Evans (nee Boyd), wife of Elwyn Evans, then the president of the Wilmington Trust Company.

This item is part of Hagley Library's Pusey and Jones Corporation photograph collection (Accession 1972.350). The Pusey & Jones Corporation built ships and machines in Wilmington, Delaware, beginning in the mid-19th century. In its initial operations, the firm produced general machinery and steam engines and did a variety of repair work. The company established a marine department in 1853 which engaged in shipbuilding.

In 1867 a paper machinery department was created that made agitators, beaters, calendars, dryers, and an array of machines for the paper industry. Meanwhile the general machinery department continued its production of industrial presses, boilers, pumps, and various heavy machinery for a variety of customers.

By 1891 the company had expanded, according to "Delaware's Industries: An Historical and Industrial Review," to a plant of over eight acres and ten buildings (boiler, smith and machine shops, a pattern house, storage houses) and a workforce of 900 employees.

Shipbuilding, however, was the largest part of Pusey & Jones's business. The company was widely known in the area of pleasure craft and built these notable yachts: Cambriona, Nakhoda, Onika, Rene, Savarona, among others. In the last robust years of the company during World War Two, Pusey & Jones was engaged in building 19 cargo ships, including the one seen here, for the U.S. Maritime Commission and hopper dredges for the U.S. Engineer Department. Pusey and Jones built almost five hundred ships in its company lifespan.

Our Digital Archive offers a selection of more than 2,100 of the approximately 6,700 images from the collection. Click here to view it online now.