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Marine Engines Effect on Lobsterboat Design

By Cipperly Good, Richard Saltonstall Jr. Curator of Maritime History

The marine engine was the “single most important innovation in the history of lobsterboat design.” This bold statement was made by Professor C. Richard K. Lunt in his 1975 dissertation on “Lobsterboat Building on the Eastern Coast of Maine: A Comparative Study.” The marine engine allowed lobstermen to go farther afield, faster, and with more ease. The hull design has adapted over the years based on the engine’s size, weight, and effects on hull performance.


While engines powered by steam and naphtha had been in use since the 1880s and 1890s, the size and expense of these engines had limited their use in commercial fisheries. It was the advent of gasoline engines in the early 1900s that caught the lobstermen’s attention. 

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Photo Archives News

Kosti Ruohomaa Collection: April 2024 Rollout

By Matt Wheeler, Digital Collections Curator

Given Kosti’s affinity for the arts—literature (which he studied in high school), illustration (he was an animation intern with Disney), and photography, it would be a short leap to guess he would have been drawn to creative people. One of our April rollouts documents Ruohomaa’s visit in late 1944 with Helen and George Papashvily at their home in rural Pennsylvania. Helen was an author and public library advocate with a degree in literature; after she met her husband in the early 1930s, she filled her time running an antique bookstore. George immigrated to the US from his native Georgia in 1923, when he fled the Soviet annexation of his country. He was an accomplished, and self-taught, sculptor, as well as a competent engineer and inventor. He met Helen in Berkeley; they moved briefly to New York City, then bought their farm in Pennsylvania.

Also this month, we take a look inside the Central School for Commercial Photography, a program at the now-defunct Metropolitan Vocational High School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Kosti shadowed the teenage students in the classroom, the darkroom, and the studio. No doubt there were animated exchanges between Ruohomaa, who had recently come into his own as a professional photographer, and his young subjects just learning the artistic and technical aspects of his trade.

To view the new content, visit the museum’s Kosti Ruohomaa site.

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