Rupert Decker Papers

Manuscripts Collection 242

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Decker, Rupert, 1908-
Title: Rupert Decker Papers
Dates: 1919-1990
Extent: 76 items
Abstract: Correspondence and personal papers; certificates and membership cards; information relating to various vessels on which Decker served, reflecting the diversity of American shipping during the first half of the 20th century; and diary (1936-1937) recording voyages aboard M.S. NEW ORLEANS and S.S. COLDBROOK. Vessels represented include S.S. ISAAC T. MANN, S.S. ALCOA GUARD, and others owned by the Alcoa Steamship Company; S.S. SEACLIFFE, and the S.S. LEHIGH which was torpedoed by the Germans in 1941.
Identification: Coll. 242

Biography of Rupert Decker, 1908-

Rupert Decker served in the United States Merchant Marine from 1927 to 1947.

Born on October 2 1908 in Rockland, Nova Scotia, Rupert Decker left at the age of nineteen to join the Merchant Marine. From his first position as quartermaster on the S.S. ISAAC T. MANN, Rupert rose through the ranks of boatswain, second mate, third and second officer, and chief mate to eventually achieve the rank of Captain aboard the S.S. ALCOA GUARD in 1944. Captain Rupert commanded several vessels for the Alcoa Steamship Company until 1947 when he began a six year sabbatical from the sea. Returning only for a five month cruise aboard the S.S. SEACLIFFE in 1953, Rupert Decker worked primarily as a kiln fireman in Worcester, Massachusetts until his retirement in 1973.

Decker’s maritime career reflects the variety of American merchant shipping during the first half of the twentieth century. His vessels carried such diverse bulk cargoes as sugar from Cuba, coal from Hampton Roads, and automobiles to the West Indies and South America. The voyages took him around the world; to Bombay, Japan and Korea, and life was often dangerous; in 1941 while aboard the LEHIGH, she was torpedoed by the Germans and Decker and 38 fellow crew members were ordered into lifeboats.

An avid photographer, Rupert Decker captured many of the images he saw. These photographs are now cataloged in the Curatorial Department of Mystic Seaport.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Alcoa Guard (Steamship)
Alcoa Steamship Company
Coldbrook (Steamship)
Isaac T. Mann (Steamship)
Lehigh (Steamship)
New Orleans (Ship)
Seacliffe (Steamship)


United States–Commerce
Worcester (Mass.)


International trade
Seafaring life
Voyages and travels
World War, 1939-1945–Naval operations, German

Document Types:

Certificates Diaries


Merchant mariners–United States

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 242, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Papers; 1919-1989
Box Folder
1 1 Personal Papers & Certificates; 1919-1936
2 Personal Papers & Certificates; 1943-1953
3 Personal Papers & Certificates; 1988-1989
4 Seamans I.D. Cards & Membership Cards; ca. 1927-1988
5 Clippings re. Veteran Status for all WWII Merchant Seamen; 1988
6 Rupert Decker, Continuous Discharge Book; 1937-1953
7 Notebook of Info on Various Ships; ca. 1950
Volume; 1936-1937
1 Rupert Deckers Diary Recording His Voyages Aboard M.S. NEW ORLEANS and S.S. COLDBROOK; 1936-1937

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