Skip to main content

H. A. Betaque Papers

Identifier: MS-0475

Scope and Contents

The H.A. Betaque Papers document Betaque's career as a resident representative for the United State Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation between 1918 and 1922, with particular emphasis the construction of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca in San Diego, California. Highlights include panoramic photographs of the San Diego Harbor and ship yard, as well as construction photographs of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. The collection includes correspondence, reports, costs analyses, engineering formulas, Emergency Fleet directives, photographs and photograph albums. The collection is divided into two series: Personal Papers (1918-1921) and Photographs (1918-1920).

The Personal Papers (1918-1922) document Betaque's professional activities with the Emergency Fleet Corporation in Brunswick, GA and San Diego, as well as his personal financial interests, including stocks and oil interests between 1918 and 1921. The series includes correspondence, directives, memorandums, cost analyses, reports, formulas, news clippings, and blueprints. The reports, formulas, blue prints and cost analyses primarily document Betaque's work on the Atlantus, the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. Reports on the Faith and the Palo Alto are also included. Of particular interest are letters from both Betaque and his colleagues referencing a depressed economy, lack of work, and a growing interest in oil. This series is filed alphabetically and primarily dates from 1918 to 1920.

The Photographs (1918-1920) mostly provide visual documentation for the construction and launching of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca, although there are a few photographs of the Palo Alto and the Atlantus. The majority of photographs date from 1919 to 1920. Filed alphabetically by folder title, this series includes two photograph albums and many loose photographs, which appear to have been disassembled from albums. Most of the San Pasqual and Cuyamaca photographs have a number and a brief description on the lower right corner of the image. It is unclear what individual or corporation created these numbers.  The photographs are arranged numerically within folders. Highlights include the two photograph albums, which include images of construction workers, panoramic shots of the San Diego Yard, and the launching ceremonies of the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca in San Diego.


  • Creation: 1918-1922
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1918-1920


Conditions Governing Access

This collections is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Harry Andrew Betaque worked as an inspector and later as a resident representative for the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation from 1918 to 1921. The US Shipping Board sought to expand the United States' merchant marines during and after the First World War. Because of steel and lumber shortages during the First World War, the government turned to concrete as an affordable alternative. Thus, the Emergency Fleet Corporation created its Concrete Ship Section and began building concrete ships. The Faith, built in 1917, was the first concrete ship built in the US.

Having worked as a civil engineer in Washington State, and as the Head of Hull Construction, Betaque appears to have begun work with the Emergency Fleet Corporation in 1918 when he was appointed the resident inspector for the construction of the Atlantus, a concrete ship built by the Liberty Shipbuilding Company in Brunswick, GA.

After the completion of the Atlantus, the Emergency Fleet Corporation transferred Betaque to San Diego as the Resident Representative to oversee the Pacific Marine Construction Company's construction of two sister ships, the SS San Pasqual and the SS Cuyamaca. Although the San Diego Yard had been commissioned to build a total of eight concrete ships, the US Shipping Board ceased concrete construction in 1921 because of a surplus of steel ships freed for use at the conclusion of World War I. The San Pasqual and Cuyamaca were the only two concrete ships built in San Diego. That same year, the US Shipping Board transferred the ship yard to the Navy, creating today's Naval Yard. Betaque left San Diego and pursued oil interests in Louisiana.

Betaque had a wife, Cora, and two sons, Harry and Norman.


3.66 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Personal Papers

II. Photographs

Source of Acquisition




Related Materials

San Diego Chamber of Commerce Records

Records of San Diegans, Inc.

H. A. Betaque Papers
Amanda Lanthorne
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US