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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Young Salts: 1896

Young Salts: 1896

Circa 1896. "U.S.S. Massachusetts crew at mess." 8x10 inch glass negative by Edward Hart, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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The best part of waking up

is a face full of black powder, THEN coffee in a quart-size "cup."

Wilson's policies

Racially integrated crews, so often seen on Shorpy, disappeared when Woodrow Wilson became president in 1913. He racially segregated workers in federal employment, including the Navy. Integrated work places, including ships, were a thing of the past. As a result, between 1919 and 1932 no African Americans were enlisted in the military; those in service prior to 1919 were allowed to remain and eventually retire.

Generally thought to be a progressive, Wilson was a Southern reactionary in core of his being.

The early days of Starbucks

Watch what happens when we secretly replace the decaf coffees ordered by these sailors with our triple latte formula!


As a kid I used to spearfish at the wreck of the Mass, which is located at the entrance to Pensacola Bay. I didn't penetrate into the interior so was never in the mess hall.

Today it is still a popular dive site:

Chowin' down

Was in the navy during the 60's on a DER. Food was never bad often quite good! We still had the hammock hooks but not in the mess hall Sending this picture off to my to sons who are Navy veterans and to my grandson who is currently serving in the Navy.They should get a kick out of it. Oh ya! We are all from Massachusetts!

Well, one thing's clear

These sailors didn't join the Navy for the food.


Yes, re-integrated is right. Harry Truman, in 1948, began to fix what Woodrow Wilson screwed up. It is a little-known fact that President Wilson, whatever his good points, was a white supremacist. In 1914, few Americans had ever heard of the Ku Klux Klan, which had enjoyed a brief vogue in the late 1860s, before being all but wiped out by Federal prosecution in 1871.

D.W. Griffith's disastrously popular 1915 movie, Birth of a Nation, played a huge role in re-inventing the Klan. This film includes an intertitle with a quote from Wilson's book,History of the American People, which clearly lent support to Griffith's cause.

As president, Wilson segregated all parts of the Federal government, including the military. Those who are familiar with this history will not be surprised to see whites and blacks serving together in the Navy in 1896.

A bigger mess

Ok, so how's the chow?

To 1948: Cook
1948-1975: Commissaryman
1975-2004: Mess Management Specialist
2004-present: Culinary Specialist

Can I have more

asbestos, please?

Integrated Navy

Looks like these sailors with a different racial makeup were getting along fine. When I read about the US Navy getting integrated in the mid 1950's I guess it's more a case of getting re-integrated.

Captain's Log 1896

Is that it hanging over the big gun?

A place for everything

Numbered hammock hooks and stowage frames for the mess tables and benches above the gobs' heads. The wooden tub probably held main course of boiled salted meat or boiled peas from the galley. Hardtack visible on one plate. Not yet the modern Navy.

A Brief Career

According to Wikipedia, the USS Massachusetts was a small battleship commissioned in 1896. Thus this photo may have been taken on her maiden voyage. She saw limited action during the Spanish-American War.

However, she was deemed obsolete and decommissioned less than ten years later. She was recommissioned twice after that, however, both times to serve as a training vessel, before being decommissioned a final time in 1919, after which she was scuttled and used as an artillery target. Currently, she serves as an artificial reef and diving spot off Pensacola, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Please NOT the powder magazine!

The two front and center men look a little nervous. Guys, if you're going to drink a lot of coffee at lunch, I'm going to have you removed from your powder magazine duties. Yes Captain.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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