The Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection of Art and Artifacts:
The U. S. Coast Guard’s rich heritage dates back to 1790, with the establishment of the Revenue Marine. As one of the first branches of the U.S. armed services, the Coast Guard has preserved a small but representative collection that includes art and artifacts from the Revenue Cutter Service, the Life-Saving Service, the Lighthouse Service, the Bureau of Navigation and the Steamboat Inspection Service. The collection also includes artifacts from throughout the modern era including personal materials, uniforms, equipment, and tools.
The Coast Guard's Heritage Asset Collection of over 20,000 artifacts, models and works of art is managed and maintained by the Curatorial Services Program. The bulk of the collection is stored at the Exhibit Center, a facility in Forestville, Maryland in the Base National Capitol Region. The Curatorial Services Program manages a robust loan program with more than 1,700 Coast Guard artifacts on loan to over 275 non-profit organizations throughout the United States. The Curatorial Services Program also manages the Coast Guard Museum located on the campus of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. The Museum serves as the main exhibition space for the Heritage Asset Collection.
Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection Highlights
Galleries at the Coast Guard Museum
- Silver gravy boat from the ward room of the USRC Androscoggin, and a silver plated serving spoon made by the R. Wallace Company for the Revenue Cutter Service.
- Hand held oil lantern of brass and glass from Admiral H. S. Berdine's stateroom on the Cutter Seminole.
- Quadrant manufactured by Braham of Bristol from c.1830, making it one of the oldest in the collection. Wood, brass, optics and an ivory name plate and scale.
- Prototype helicopter hoist developed with Sikorsky.
- Pennant from the USS LCI(L)-87, an amphibious landing ship manned by a Coast Guard crew during World War II.
- A one of a kind medal struck for and awarded to then LT Ellsworth P. Bertholf for his work in the overland relief of whalemen and their ships who had become trapped in the ice at Point Barrow in the winter of 1897-1898.
- Life saving medal given to the volunteers who rescued the 32 people on the Steamer Metis when it ran into trouble off Long Island at Watch Hill, Rhode Island, on August 31, 1872.
- Lieutenant David H. Jarvis's special medal from Congress for his part in rescuing whalers trapped in ice at Point Barrow, Alaska in 1897.
- Distinguished Flying Cross awarded posthumously to LT John Pritchard, USCG. The Coast Guard awarded the DFC to LT Pritchard for his attempted rescue of an Army Air Force B-17 which had crashed on 9 November 1942 on the icecap on the east side of Greenland. The first day, Pritchard and Radioman First Class Benjamin Bottoms rescued two injured crewmen and returned them to his cutter, USCGC Northland. The second day, 29 November 1942 their aircraft disappeared in a storm.
- CGC Spencer, WPG-36, model made by Anthony Kloska
- USRC Massachusetts, one of the first ten cutters built for the Revenue Marine, model made by Piel Craftsmen
- Model of an Eskimo whale boat with full hunting gear
- Model of an Eskimo in his kayak with full hunting gear
- Model of the 25-foot 10-inch motor surfboat on a trailer
Art & Posters
Movie, Recruiting & Propaganda Posters:
- Sea Spoilers with John Wayne
- Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943): Through thirteen episodes Don Winslow battles the German accented Scorpion, ally of the Japanese in their plans to invade the West Coast of the United States. Based on the newspaper feature "Don Winslow of the Navy," these "shorts" played between feature films at movie theatres during World War II.
Paintings & Etchings:
- "The Wreck of the Atlantic Cast Up By the Sea," Etching by Winslow Homer, printed in the 26 April 1873 edition of Harper's Weekly
- "Wreck in the Offing," Etching by Howard Pyle
- New Jersey Life-Saving Crew," Etching by Joseph Becker, printed in the 25 January 1873 F. Leslie Magazine
- "Breeches Buoy Rescue," painting
- Life-saving crew rowing through the surf, painting
- "USRC Bear" underway, oil on canvas by Hunter Wood
- Crew of the Revenue Cutter Bear ferrying stranded whalemen, oil on canvas by Anton Otto Fisher, Coast Guard Artist
Galleries at the Coast Guard Museum
World War II Combat Art:
- "Fight to the Last" oil on canvas by Anton Otto Fisher, Coast Guard Artist
- "Embarkation" painting by Jacob A. Lawrence (right)
- "A Torpedoed Tanker" oil on canvas by Anton Otto Fisher, Coast Guard Artist
- "USCGC Campbell" oil on canvas by Anton Otto Fisher, Coast Guard Artist
- "Invasion of Italy" oil on canvas by BMC William Goadby Lawrence, Coast Guard Artist
- "Amphibious Landing" oil on canvas by BMC William Goadby Lawrence, Coast Guard Artist
- "Landing on the Beach" oil on canvas by BMC William Goadby Lawrence, Coast Guard Artist
- Iwo Jima, World War II oil on canvas
- USS Samuel Chase, painting
- "Off-Loading Supplies" oil on canvas by Ken Riley, Coast Guard Artist
- "Dawn" oil on canvas by BMC William Goadby Lawrence, Coast Guard Artist
- "Getting the Troops to the Front" oil on canvas by Duncan Gleason
- "The Invasion of Normandy" oil on canvas by George Sottung
Galleries at the Coast Guard Museum
- Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, oil on canvas copy of portrait by Copley. Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury and the "father" of the Coast Guard
- Portrait of Revenue Marine Captain Frederick Lee, commanding the cutter Eagle during the War of 1812. He was responsible for the safety of New Haven Harbor, Connecticut, and Long Island Sound during the war. HMS Dispatch captured the Eagle after a 24-hour battle
- Portrait of Revenue Cutter Service Captain John A. Henriques. Henriques was the first superintendant of the Revenue Cutter School of Instruction (which was the fore-runner of the Coast Guard Academy). Oil on canvas by Irwin D. Hoffman
- Portrait of Revenue Cutter Service Captain Alexander V. Fraser. Fraser was the Revenue Cutter Service's first "military" commandant. Oil on canvas by Irwin Hoffman
- Portrait of Revenue Cutter Service Captain Girdler; Oil on canvas by George Sottung
- Portrait of Revenue Cutter Service Captain Josiah Sturgis. Oil on canvas by George Sottung
- Portrait of Douglas Munro. Munro is the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient.
- Training barque Alexander Hamilton, il on canvas by James A. Mitchell, 1978
- USRC Forward, oil on canvas
- "Capture of the former cutter Harriet Lane" Painting by William H. RaVell III, CWO, USCG (Ret.)
- Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan Island. Oil on canvas by Milton J. Burns
- The Twin Lighthouses of Thatcher's Island, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Oil on canvas by Fischer Margeson
- "Winter Passage," Minot's Ledge Lighthouse. Oil on canvas by William Formby Halsell
Galleries at the Coast Guard Museum
Swords, Uniforms Accoutrements:
- U.S. Life-Saving Service Cap worn by Surfman A. A. Jacobs while stationed at Life-Saving Station No. 19, Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts. Jacobs served in both the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Coast Guard
- U.S. Life-Saving Service surfman's collar insignia
- U.S. Life-Saving Service uniform button
- Surfman's Badges from the U.S. LSS District 4, Station 14, Surfman 3
- Class ring from USCG Academy Class of 1965
- Epaulettes from a one-star admiral.
- Revenue Cutter Service uniform coat buttons
- Chief Petty Officer's cap device
- "The Life-boat Game": A board game manufactured from 1899 to 1904 by Parker Brothers
Galleries at the Coast Guard Museum
Donations to the Heritage Asset Collection and Coast Guard Archives
Donating Artifacts & Archival Items to the Coast Guard History Program:
Thank you for your interest in donating artifacts or archival items to the U.S. Coast Guard History & Heritage Program. This page lays out the criteria, requirements and processes that take place for the Coast Guard to accept donations related to the history, heritage and material culture of the Coast Guard.
Are you interested in donating an artifact (three dimensional items such as uniforms, swords, personnel effects, equipment, models, etc.) to the Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection or archival items (personal or official papers, records, reports, letters, diaries, scrapbooks and photographs, etc.) to the Coast Guard Archives?
Criteria for accepting an artifact into the Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection:
1) Historical significance and context: The item must have a clear connection to the Coast Guard or any of its predecessor or related agencies. The item should be accompanied with supporting documentation.
2) Relevance: The item must provide historical and educational value. All items accepted should have an historical, education, exhibition, and/or programmatic use.
3) Condition and preservation needs: The object must be in fair condition. Curatorial Services must be able to store the item appropriately based on its materials, condition, and needs. If the object is in poor condition it must have significant relevance and context and must be able to be conserved as part of its long term storage plans. Curatorial Services must be able to reasonably care for the item in perpetuity.
4) Rarity and/or uniqueness: Items of a rare or unique nature that relate to the Coast Guard or any of its predecessor or related agencies should be collected to represent singular and extraordinary aspects of the agencies’ history.
5) Duplicates: Items that duplicate material already held in the Heritage Asset Collection should not be collected. They should only be considered if the historic context, background, and associated documentation make the item more relevant or rare than what is already in the collection.
6) Association or importance of artist or producer: Items associated, used, and/or created by important artistic and Coast Guard figures will be collected.
7) Format or size: Reasonable scale will be considered when assessing an item. Objects with sizes that can negatively impact the ability to provide long term care and storage must be carefully considered to ensure that their historical context and value outweigh the costs of care and housing.
Acquisition Process and Restrictions for the Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection:
The Coast Guard may not solicit for nor expend appropriated funds to acquire artifacts.
No personnel of Coast Guard Curatorial Services or the Coast Guard may provide written or verbal appraisals of a donated item to its donor. Donors requiring appraisals of donated items must obtain such appraisals at their own expense using appraisers of their choice. Coast Guard personnel may not recommend any one appraiser, but may provide the donor with a general list of appraisers, if the donor so requests.
Donations must be made unconditionally.
All acquisitions must be approved by Commandant (CG-09231) and require ethical review via CG-094 (Legal). Authority to approve acquisitions for the Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection valued up to $2,000.00 is delegated to the Chief Historian. All items with a value greater than $2,000.00 must go to CG-094 for gift review and CG-08 for acceptance.
No restrictive or conditional acquisitions (through donation, purchase or transfer) may be accepted for the collection, except by direction of Commandant (CG-09231).
All artifacts, when accepted by any representative of the Coast Guard, become the property of the US Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard will not accept permanent loans of historical property, except by direction of Commandant (CG-09231). The Coast Guard will only accept incoming loans if there is a definitive plan to exhibit the loaned material for a set amount of time.
Please note that due to an increase in donation offers and staffing constraints it may take 2-4 weeks for an initial response and up to 4-6 months to finalize the donation process. Thank you for your patience.
For more information on donating artifacts to the Coast Guard, please contact our Office at History@uscg.mil.
The Coast Guard Historian's Office maintains an important Special Collections Archive. The Archive consists primarily of archival material that is not included in the official records now held by the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]. It includes hundreds of thousands of unique and accessible images, publications, manuals, directives, personal papers, diaries, scrapbooks, reports, and documents.
The Coast Guard Historian's Office photography collection is one of the largest collections of Coast Guard-related photography in the world. It consists of hundreds of thousands of distinct photographs, negatives and slides dating from the post-Civil War-era to the early 1990s. Images include lighthouses, cutters, lighthouse tenders, light vessels, combat images (especially from World War II and Vietnam), personnel, life-boat and air stations.
This collection also includes several thousand books, pamphlets, manuals, directives, instructions and newsletters that deal specifically with the Coast Guard or are Coast Guard publications. Most significant are the old manuals, service publications and back issues of most of the periodicals published by the service.
The material preserved in our archive complements official records now kept at NARA and adds depth to our understanding of all aspects of Coast Guard history. These records come from former commandants, officers, enlisted personnel, civilians and their families.
If you are interested in donating any such archival items, please contact us at History@uscg.mil.
Contact & Further Information:
For more information on donating artifacts and archival materials to the Coast Guard, please contact us at History@uscg.mil.
The Coast Guard Heritage Asset Committee will make the final determination on whether the Coast Guard will accept any donation offers. The Heritage Asset Committee is made up of the Chief Historian, the Coast Guard Curator, the Curator of the Coast Guard Academy Museum, the Coast Guard Collections Manager, our Atlantic Area Historian and our Pacific Area Historian, and the Coast Guard Archivist.
Thank you for your interest in preserving all aspects of Coast Guard history.