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Guide to the Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding collection 1988.016

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201
718-222-4111
library@brooklynhistory.org


Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Matthew Gorham

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on March 20, 2015
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Trezza, Frank J.
Title: Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1861-2011
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1973-1978
Abstract: The Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding Collection documents shipbuilding activities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from its closing by the Department of Defense in the mid-1960s through its rebirth and eventual demise under the management of the Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. Frank J. Trezza was hired by Seatrain Shipbuilding as a Mechanic Helper at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1973 and eventually worked his way up to the position of First Class Marine Electrician. Though the dates of the collection span from 1861 to 1988, the bulk of the records span the period 1973-1978, when Frank J. Trezza was an employee of Seatrain Shipbuilding. Included in the collection are newspaper clippings, union publications, pamphlets and newspapers published by Seatrain, a Seatrain employee orientation kit, black & white photographs, color photographs, color slides, and black & white negatives. All of the documents in the collection were either collected or created by Frank J. Trezza. The majority of newspaper clippings in the collection document two subjects: the closing of the Brooklyn Navy Yard by the Department of Defense in 1966, and the final years of shipbuilding there under the Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. during the 1970s.
Quantity: 1.0 linear feet in one manuscript box and two slide storage boxes
Language of Materials: Materials in English
Call Phrase: 1988.016
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, "Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's 19th Century Past: Creation to Consolidation," funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, with additional support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Biographical and Historical Note

The origins of the Brooklyn Navy Yard (officially known as the New York Naval Shipyard) date back to 1801, when the United States Navy acquired what had previously been a small, privately owned shipyard in order to construct naval vessels. By the time the Defense Department ceased shipbuilding activities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1966, 88 vessels had been manufactured at the facility. In 1967, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was acquired by the City of New York and was converted for private commercial use.

Seatrain Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Seatrain Lines, was founded in 1968 and commenced shipbuilding activities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1969 with the help of significant federal subsidies. During its tenure at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Seatrain built four VLCC (Very Large Carrying Capacity) oil tankers, eight barges, and one ice breaker barge. The company employed around 3100 union workers (represented by the Industrial Workers of North America) through the mid-1970s. However, Seatrain suffered economic troubles throughout its existence, and by the time the company declared bankruptcy and shut down its operations in Brooklyn in 1981, its workforce had shrunk to 550. (1)

Frank J. Trezza was hired by Seatrain Shipbuilding as a Mechanic Helper at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1973 and eventually worked his way up to the position of First Class Marine Electrician. He worked at the Navy Yard until 1978 when he was injured on the job and told by doctors that he would never work in the shipbuilding profession again. Following rehabilitation from his injuries, Mr. Trezza relocated to Maine where he resumed working as a First Class Marine Electrician at Bath Iron Works, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, and in South America for a European defense contractor. In 1999, Mr. Trezza earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Southern Maine, and in 2007, he published the book, Brooklyn: Steel-Blood Tenacity, a memoir of the years he spent working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Bibliography

1. On the Rocks. Time Magazine. February 23, 1981.

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Scope and Contents Note

The Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding collection documents shipbuilding activities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from its closing by the Department of Defense in the mid-1960s through its rebirth and eventual demise under the management of the Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. Though the dates of the collection span from 1861 to 1988, the bulk of the records span the period 1973-1978, when Frank J. Trezza was an employee of Seatrain Shipbuilding. Included in the collection are newspaper clippings, union publications, pamphlets and newspapers published by Seatrain, a Seatrain employee orientation kit, black & white photographs, color photographs, color slides, and black & white negatives. All of the documents in the collection were either collected or created by Frank J. Trezza.

The majority of newspaper clippings in the collection document two subjects: the closing of the Brooklyn Navy Yard by the Department of Defense in 1966, and the final years of shipbuilding there under the Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. during the 1970s. Also included is a slim file with clippings on the overall history of the Navy Yard dating back to the 19th century. The company and union pamphlets and publications all date from the 1970s, and they document many of the immediate aspects of working life at Seatrain.

Of particular interest are several hundred color photographs, black & white photographs, color negatives, and black & white negatives, all photographed by Mr. Trezza during his tenure at Seatrain Shipbuilding. The images span the years 1977-1978, and offer an inside view of the Navy Yard during the final years of shipbuilding there. Included are landscapes of the Navy Yard and its surrounding area, portraits of fellow Seatrain employees on the job, and images of the ships that were built or repaired at the Navy Yard during this time. There are also a few black & white photographs obtained from the National Archives that depict ships built at the Navy Yard from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.

The photographs in the collection have been digitally scanned (though not to archival standards), are cataloged to the item level, and are available for viewing in the PastPerfect image database.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Trezza, Frank J.

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Color slides
  • Negatives (photographic)
  • Photographs

Subject Organizations

  • International Union, United Industrial Workers of America.
  • New York Naval Shipyard.
  • Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp.
  • United States. Navy.

Subject Topics

  • Shipbuilding industry -- Employees -- Labor unions
  • Shipbuilding -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ships -- Maintenance and repair
  • Ships -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Permission to publish or reproduce must be secured from the repository.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding collection, 1988.016, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Frank J. Trezza in 1988. Additional clippings donated by Frank J. Trezza in 2011.

Processing Information note

The collection was processed by Brooklyn Historical Society staff members in 1988, and further processed by Matthew Gorham in June 2009. The finding aid was written by Matthew Gorham in June 2009. Additional content contributed by Emily Reynolds on January 13, 2011. In December 2011, Frank J. Trezza contributed an additional set of clippings to the collection, which he had collected between 1999 and 2011. These clippings were added to Series 1 by John Zarrillo in February 2015.

Photograph Records

Item-level description and digital versions of images from the collection are available for searching via the online image database

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Container List

Series 1 - Clippings, Pamphlets, Publications, Seatrain Employee Orientation Kit, 1923-2011

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Clippings - Brooklyn Navy Yard Closing
1923-1967
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Clippings - Brooklyn Navy Yard History
1951-1970
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Clippings - Miscellaneous
1962-1988
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Clippings - Special Supplement - Williamsburg News
1978
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Pamphlets, Union Publications, Seatrain Company Publications
1973-1975
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. Employee Orientation Kit
1971-1973
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Report on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Service Tanker Structure Failure Study
1991
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Clippings - Internet print-outs
1999-2011

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Series 2 - Color Slides, Color Photographs, Black & White Photographs, Black & White Negatives, Bulk, 1977-1978 circa 1800s-1978. Materials in this series are identified as V1988.21.1-465

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Color Photographs
1977-78
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Black & White Photographs
1861-1977
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Black & White Negatives
1977
Box: Slide Box 1 Color Slides
1977-1978
Box: Slide Box 2 Color Slides
1977-1978

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