Though the United States Coast Guard officially took on that name in 1915, its origin dates back over 230 years ago. In August 1790, what became known as the United States Revenue Cutter Service was established under the Treasury Department to assist with customs enforcement. The Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to create the United States Coast Guard in January 1915.
Recently digitized by the Still Picture Branch and added to the online catalog, the glass lantern slides that make up series 56-AR: Photographs of Revenue Cutter Service Cadets, Ships and Activities, 1900-1915 consist of black and white and color images that document the Revenue Cutter Service in the years just before this transition. The slides include images of the ships, known as “cutters;” of cadets training; and of some responsibilities of the service during this period, such as assisting ships in distress, icebreaking, and the removal of shipwrecks.
In addition to the images themselves, this series features a couple more characteristics worth noting. First, despite its obvious connections to the Coast Guard, the series is part of Record Group 56, General Records of the Department of the Treasury, reflecting its ties to the agency within which the Revenue Cutter Service was established in 1790. And second, the images include original captions that were attached to the front of the slides, providing descriptions for material likely created for promotional and recruitment purposes.
Included below are select images from the series 56-AR: Photographs of Revenue Cutter Service Cadets, Ships and Activities, 1900-1915. To view all of the photographs within the series visit the online catalog.
The images included within this series are in the public domain and have no copyright restrictions.