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Gilbert M. Smith, Master Boatbuilder of Long Island, New York

Daria Elizabeth Merwin
Thesis: May 2000
Chair: Dr. Donny L. Hamilton


The second half of the 19`" century in maritime America was an era marked by a rich variety of vernacular watercraft types adapted to a wide range of local needs and traditions. The Great South Bay, located off Long Island, New York, was home to several variants of small work and pleasure craft. This thesis is an examination of Long Island boatbuilding via a study of the career of the most prolific and best known local boatbuilder, Gilbert Monroe Smith (1843 1940).

It is estimated that Gil Smith built four hundred vessels from the 1860s through the 1930s, the twilight of wooden boat and shipbuilding in coastal southern New England. Smith's work represents the culmination of decades of traditional boatbuilding. This tradition, along with environmental and economic constraints, helped to shape Smith's hulls.

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