Girl on the bow of a Chris-Craft Cruiser, 1930s, PI1303

The Chris-Craft name is synonymous with speed and craftsmanship.  For more than sixty years, this world-wide boating empire, founded by Christopher Columbus Smith, was a leader in producing powered pleasure boats. 

The archives of Chris-Craft Industries were acquired by the Museum in 1986.  Comprising more than 350 linear feet of records, this collection is considered one of the most complete histories of a boatbuilding company.  The collection covers all models produced by Chris-Craft from 1922 through 1980 and consists of the major components listed below.

The Mariners' Museum Library at Christopher Newport University is proud to have the responsibility of maintaining the legacy of Christopher Smith, the "dean" of American standardized boatbuilding.



Chris-Craft Hull Card

Boat Equipment Records

Popularly termed "hull cards," these are primary sources of information. Approximately 119,000 of these documents were created by Chris-Craft as a permanent record for the original standard and optional features of each hull produced. Details such as hull number, model, engine type, paint color, upholstery, place of construction, original dealer, and other hardware features are contained on these cards.

image of runabouts under construction


More than 25,000 black and white photographs in the collection depict early boat construction, dealer showrooms, marine engine productions, and celebrity Chris-Craft owners, as well as the many models of runabouts and cruisers produced by the company.

profile drawing of Chris-Craft boat

Boat Plans

More than 55,000 original design plans document virtually every model built. Some of the more popular models represented include the Cadet, Riviera, Cobra, Continental, Holiday, Sportsman, and Racing Runabout, in addition to a full range of cruisers. These plans illustrate the beauty and strength of the Chris-Craft boats.

Sales Catalogs, Price Lists, & Boat and Engine Manuals

A nearly complete collection of sales and boat literature provides accurate data on boat styling, pricing, and general specifications.


Learn more about the History of Chris-Craft Runabouts, by reading an article written by Tom Crew, former archivist of The Mariners' Museum, who has a national reputation as an expert on the history of Chris-Craft boats.


Chris-Craft staff search the company archives to prepare research packages tailored to a specific Chris-Craft boat. The research is based upon the Chris-Craft hull identification number and/or the original engine serial number. If you would like to order a Chris-Craft Research package, you must provide the hull number. Failure to do this will necessitate additional correspondence and delay your research, since the Chris-Craft Corporation filed the permanent record of each boat, by this number.


CLICK HERE to order a Chris-Craft Research package
Please make sure to provide the hull number.


If you do not know the hull number, please review the information below.

How do I find the Chris-Craft Hull Number?

The locations of the hull numbers are as follows:

Chris-Craft, Sea Skiff & Cavalier Division boats

  • On a metal plate attached to the underside of the engine hatch cover or engine box on single engine models, and on a metal plate attached to the underside of the starboard engine hatch cover or engine box on twin engine models.
  • Stamped into the aft surface of the forward header of the engine hatch on single engine models, and stamped into the aft surface of the forward header of the port engine hatch on twin engine models.
  • Stamped into the top edge of the engine stringer starboard adjacent to engine coupling on single engine models, and stamped into the top edge of the inboard stringer, port engine, adjacent to engine coupling on twin engine models.
  • Either on top of wood towing bitt, aft face of bow block, extreme forward inboard surface of port toe rail, or aft face of stem midway between chine and sheer.
  • SPORT BOATS AND RUNABOUTS - Stamped into the forward surface of aft deck beam if seat back is removable.

Corsair Division Boats

  • On the exterior surface of the port bow, just aft of the stem and slightly below and parallel to the sheer.
  • Stamped into the engine mounting pad, in the case of outboard powered boats, and into a transom frame or suitable wood member in this area. Where no wood surface is readily available, the number will be glassed into the transom on the inboard side.

Fiberglass Cruisers and Sailboats

  • On the interior surface of the port hull side, forward of the foremost bulkhead. Numbers are glassed over with glass cloth impregnated with clear resin.
  • Outboard powered models of the sailboat division will also have the number stamped into the engine mounting pad.

What do I get in a research package?

A research package consists of photocopies of the following types of primary documents, depending upon the quantity of archival information available for a specific boat.

  • Boat equipment record "Hull Card"
  • Sales literature
  • Original price sheet
  • Black and white production photographs
  • Engine information
  • A list of technical drawings
  • A list of wiring diagrams

How much does a research package cost and how can I order one?

A prepaid non-refundable fee of $40 is required. The Museum member rate is $25 per research package. For prepayment of research fees, mail a check or money order from a U.S. Bank or supply us with a credit card number (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) and the expiration date.

You can order a research package using any of the following methods:

  • Fax your request to (757) 591-7310, Attention: Chris-Craft Research, or
  • Submit a Chris-Craft Research Request online, or
  • Call 1-(800) 565-6846 or (757) 591-7785, Monday-Friday, 1 P.M. to 5 P.M., or
  • Mail a written request to:
    Chris-Craft Research
    The Mariners' Museum Library at Christopher Newport University
    100 Museum Drive
    Newport News, VA 23606Chris Craft

Please include check, money order or credit card information.

How can I order other items from the Chris-Craft Collection?

The research package contains instructions on how to order reproductions of technical drawings, black and white production photographs, color reproductions of sales literature, and copies of engine manuals, along with pricing information. To view images online for purchase visit 


  • Plans - prices vary and are based upon the size of the original drawings
  • Photographs - Black and white 8x10's are $20 each. Black and white 11x14's $25 each.
  • Hull Card only- $10.00 
  • Manuals - prices vary depending upon the number of pages
  • Color Reproductions of Sales Literature - prices vary