Essex Historical & Shipbuilding Museum

62 Main Street, Essex, MA. Photograph by Steve Rosenthal


The archives of the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum support the organization’s purpose to preserve, manage and interpret objects related to the history of Essex, its citizens, culture and industry, with a major focus on shipbuilding.

The collections include nineteenth-century teaching aids; two Gothic-style horse-drawn hearses; patterns for skylights and companionways; samples of interior moldings; half-models and rigged models; hundreds of tools used by Essex shipwrights; and specialized tools and machinery used by loftsmen, caulkers, and the makers of spars, windlasses, blocks, rope, and pumps who supplied their products to the shipyards.

The Society also has over 3,000 photographs of vessels under construction from as early as 1872; photos of Essex businesses, churches, homes, trolleys and the Essex Branch Railroad; as well as portraits of Essex individuals and families, veterans and schoolchildren.

Documents include line plans of over 500 Essex vessels; studies of shipyard methods; documents related to every aspect of the Essex shipbuilding industry; vessel documents as early as 1720; shipyard daybooks and vessel lists; and documents related to early Chebacco/Essex families, including wills, probate records, diaries, daybooks, tax records, property maps, early family genealogies and manuscripts.

The library collection includes genealogies, maritime histories and vessel lists; a nearly complete collection of the Essex Echo; Town Reports; and histories of Massachusetts, Essex County, Chebacco and Essex.

View items from the Essex Historical and Shipbuilding Museum:

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