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Sepia image of boat Sheer Kahn with furled sailSepia image of boat Sheer Kahn with furled sail

John G. Alden Collection

Design and corporate archives from yacht designer John G. Alden

John G. Alden (1884-1962) was a Boston-based naval architect known for designing sailing yachts that were comfortable, seakindly, and quick. Alden started his career as an apprentice to yacht designer B.B. Crowninshield, who designed some of Gloucester’s racing fishing schooners, and supplemented with work with a few courses in Naval Architecture at MIT. He started his own yacht design business in 1909, which became famous in the 1920s after a few of Alden’s vessels won races to Bermuda. Sailing yachts made up most of the firm’s business, though Alden also drew plans for commercial and military vessels in the 1940s and 1950s. Alden sold the business to some of his employees after World War II. The firm was later sold again to Tillotsen Holdings, but maintained the same address and design philosophy until it closed for good in 2008.

The Alden collection contains nearly complete design records and some business papers from the John G. Alden Design Co. from its incorporation in 1909 to dissolution in 2008. Design records include complete sets of plans, offsets, specifications, contracts, and lists of builder-supplied equipment for each yacht design produced. Similar material exists for merchant and military vessels designed by the Alden firm; these also often include calculations and other preliminary design work. Photographs of many completed vessels are included in the collection, also organized by design number. Company records are limited, but include records of expenses and profits, employees, general specifications, and lists of plans published during the Alden firm’s lifetime.

Title: John G. Alden Collection

Creator: John G. Alden; John G. Alden Design Co.

Dates: 1909-2008

Extent: 45 linear feet archives plus 13 drawers and 36 cubic feet plans

Language: English

Repository: MIT Museum, Hart Nautical Collection

Access: Open for research by appointment. Index available online [].

Copyright: Some copyright restrictions may apply

Credit: Hart Nautical Collection, MIT Museum

See more detail in the Alden Collection Finding Aid [PDF]