WWII Esso tankers histories, who might want this item?

My grandfather (who I never got to meet) was many things in his life. Many of them far from praiseworthy.

One of them was being a nautical engineer. During WWII he worked with ESSO and had compiled a list of all crews and ships that Esso operated during the war. Including, according to my father, accurate crew, casualty and survivor lists for any ships lost.

We’re doing a clean up, here, and my father has decided that he really has no use for this document (Roughly an 8.5" by 11" by one and a half inches thick leatherbound book.) and was wondering, idly, what it might be worth.

I doubt that there’s any kind of general market for this kind of document that could be met via eBay, but I also think it’s the sort of general statistics and records that would get many a professional historian drooling.

So, what museums, libraries, or institutes should I consider contacting to see if they’d like this document?

American Merchant Marine Museum?

Good idea. I’ll see if any more compelling ideas show up in this thread, but that’s probably the most appropriate place for it. Thanks!

I like Jonny’s suggestion, but if you are entertaining more options just to ponder, I would consider the Library of Congress or the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History.

(Or see if any of them want to share copy costs and then share the results.)

Whoops, I opened my mouth before I knew all the facts.

First, my grandfather did not write this history. It was compiled by Esso, and self-published by them. He got a copy of the history because he’d been an engineer on one of their tankers during WWII. (According to my father - mostly Aruba to Bayonne.) My guess is that most any nautical themed museum or library extant at the time the history was published (approximately 1946-48) got a copy. As well as several to the Library of Congress.

What I think would be a good home for this book would be, either a museum or library that has opened since say 1950, and so missed getting a copy when they were published; or to find if one of the libraries or museums suggested already have a need for more copies.

Given the history of the book, I’m prepared to accept that there isn’t a need for it - there may be all the research copies archived that are necessary. And quite frankly, my father doesn’t have much filial feelings for his father, and my connection to the man is even less: If no suitable home can be found for the book, easily, I’m not going to worry about it. In this case, the family history makes the book far, far less valuable than blank paper would be. I just don’t want to destroy a potential historical record without making some effort to see if it might be valued.

What you have is a very valuable document, though maybe not in terms of cash – I can’t speak to that. I can say that there are thousands of families out there who never learned the circumstances of their grandparents war service or death.

It may be that the information is all redundant and published elsewhere, but it may also be that some sinkings happened in places or for reasons that the military at the time deemed “secret”, and never published the fate of the crews.

The grandfather of my good friend died in the sinking of the HMT Rohna. Because it was the first Allied transport ship sunk at sea by a guided missile, the Army never told the families of the casualties what happened. There were more than a thousand deaths in that sinking, making it the greatest ever loss of life at sea for the American military. I believe that is still the case today.

My friend’s family did not know anything about this until 2004.

Please try very hard to find a place that will properly copy and index this information and get it up on the web. I can guarantee you there are people hunting for information about the fate of WWII casualties even today.

I agree it’s potentially of great value. Just not to my family. :slight_smile:

And frankly, when I start shopping it around to libraries I’ll make it clear that they can have it if they’ll just cover shipping costs. I don’t want to destroy the record it represents. I just don’t see the point in keeping it in my family’s archives. (And, yeah, I know my great-great-great grand niece is going to want to get into her time machine to beat me senseless for this - esp. since I have little desire to record the oral histories of my grandfather that have left me feeling I missed nothing by being born after his death.)

But that is another category of resource I’d not considered that might want to have a copy - geneaology research sites, both online and physical. Something else to look into.

Do please keep up the good suggestions!

Looking at the bibliography of this page from the U S Merchant Marine site, I found the following entry:

Ships of the Esso Fleet in World War II, Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, 1946
If that is the same book, it may, indeed, be present already in many libraries. (I’d still ask.) However, if it looks like all the big organizations have one, donate it to the local library of the town where your grandfather lived. If they don’t want it, try the local historical society, mentioning that he is in it.

Or maybe ancestry.com or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City?

Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions. I’m planning to begin with an offer of first refusal to the American Merchant Marine Museum that Johnny L.A. suggested. From there I’ll try Annapolis, and the Smithsonian, then start working through smaller museums (one that comes to mind is the USS Salem museum, which includes the Cruiser memorial/museum). If none of that works out, I’ll try with the genealogic resources.

I’ll update this, too, when I come to the end of my search.

I found a list of American naval and maritime museums.If your first attempts don’t pan out, I’ll bet you’ll find one here that will help you out.

Well, it’s taken about a month for my anonymous email to wend its way through the summer blahs at the USMMA, and in retrospect an email titled simply “Book Donation Offer” might not have been the best way to introduce the topic - I’ve forgotten how many bibliophiles tend to view any volume as precious simply because of age.
Eventually, my email got forwarded to the Chief Librarian at the Bland Memorial Library. It was passed up with a ahem bland “Should we look into this, boss?”
The email I got back from the library included the forwarding trail, and the Chief Librarian’s comment.

After a couple of emails working out the details of the transfer, the book is now enroute to what was my first choice for it’s new home.
Thanks again to everyone for your excellent suggestions and interest.

Congratulations for finding a good home for your book! :slight_smile:

That’s great.