Howard Steamboat Museum Collection
About the Collection
The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is dedicated to preserving the history of Howard Shipyards and three generations of the Howard family that owned and operated the largest inland shipbuilding site in America for over 100 years (1834-1942). The museum also fosters appreciation of the development of steamboats and inland river commerce during the same period.
The museum’s photograph collection, which is housed in the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, consists primarily of images captured by Captain James E. Howard (1875-1956) between 1888 and 1934. His glass plate negatives showcase more than 300 completed vessels and document the construction of at least 200 boats built, or rebuilt, at Howard Shipyard. Captain Jim’s negatives also include pictures of family members, the family mansion, extreme weather incidents in the Jeffersonville area, and boats built at other shipyards. After his death, additional prints, negatives and postcards, most by unknown photographers, were added to the collection.
In 1962, a group of volunteers helped Loretta M. Howard organize her late husband’s negatives stored on the third floor of the family mansion. When a furnace fire severely damaged the mansion in 1971, destroying both staircases, the same group managed to retrieve over 1400 of Captain Jim’s heavy glass plate negatives and salvage many of the other prints and negatives as well. The negatives were cleaned, re-sleeved, and stored at Lin Caufield Studio in Louisville, Kentucky until 1986 when they were transferred to UofL Photographic Archives as a permanent loan.
This digital collection currently features 790 images of 195 boats built, or being built, at Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana. There are a few images which have Captain Howard listed as the collector, and not photographer, because it appears he photographed pictures taken by other photographers. The digital collection will be expanded to include the entire physical collection.
Conditions of Use
The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions by contacting the Howard Steamboat Museum. To order reproductions for personal use, see Order Reproductions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.
To cite an image from this collection, please use the format:
[Image Number], Howard Steamboat Museum Collection, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).
Jim Reising, one of the volunteers who helped save the Howard Steamboat Museum negatives and photographs in the 1960s and 1970s, scanned the entire collection between 2008 and 2011. The negatives were scanned on an Epson Expression 1680 as 600 ppi TIFF images in 8-bit grayscale sized at 10 inches on the long side. Some images were cropped to exclude damaged areas of the negatives. Susan Finley cataloged, converted, and uploaded the images as lossy JPEG2000 files of Maximum quality, using CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software version 5.3.1.
Jim Reising and Susan Finley prepared the metadata in accordance with the University of Louisville Digital Initiatives data dictionary (PDF), using notes transferred from old sleeves after the museum fire plus:
- Notes from, and interviews with, Captain Alan L. Bates, naval architect, columnist for the Waterways Journal, author of books on riverboat lore and technology, founding member of the Howard Steamboat Museum Board of Directors, and one of the volunteers that helped save and preserve the collection.
- Way, Frederick. Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994: Passenger Steamboats of the Mississippi River System Since the Advent of Photography in Mid-continent America, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, 1994.
- Way, Frederick. Way’s Steam Towboat Directory. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, c. 1990.
- Fishbaugh, Charles Preston, From Paddle Wheels to Propellers: the Howard Ship Yards of Jeffersonville in the Story of Steam navigation on the Western Rivers. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1970.
Terri L. Holtze designed the HTML pages.