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1949 boat construction elevation by Richard O. Davis1949 boat construction elevation by Richard O. Davis

Davis-Hand Collection

Boat design archives of William Hand and Richard O. Davis

William Hand, Jr. (1875-1946) was one of the early twentieth century’s most prolific boat designers. He started his career designing sailing cruisers, schooners, fishing launches, and V-bottomed powerboats, but was best known for his sturdy, sea-kindly motorsailers that he developed in the 1920s and ‘30s. Richard O. Davis (1899-1969) joined Hand as a draftsman in 1923 and became an associate designer at the firm 13 years later. Davis spent World War II designing navy minesweepers with Henry B. Nevins, Inc. of New York, and continued there designing yachts and motorsailers after the war. In 1954, Davis joined the Frank L. Sample & Son Yard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, again overseeing a minesweeper program. Davis’s final job was with Philip L. Rhodes, an MIT alum and successor to the Gibbs & Cox design firm of New York.

The Davis-Hand collection consists of the surviving design archives from William Hand Jr., which were willed to Richard O. Davis after Hand’s death, and material from Davis’s subsequent career at the Nevins and Rhodes design agencies. (Because many of Hand’s plans were destroyed in a hurricane in 1938, the record is far from complete.) Drawings are the bulk of the collection; only a small amount of archival material, primarily specifications for boats, survives. There is also a research collection with copies of original design catalogs, contemporary articles, and similar material related to Hand’s designs.

Title: Davis-Hand Collection

Creator: William H. Hand; Richard O. Davis

Dates: 1900-1968

Extent: 2,028 plans and 1.5 linear feet archives

Language: English

Repository: MIT Museum, Hart Nautical Collection

Access: Open for research by appointment and online

Copyright: No known restrictions

Credit: Hart Nautical Collection, MIT Museum

See more detail in the [Davis-Hand Collection Finding Aid]