“Sea-Tac KEEL” Magazine

By Spencer Bowman

“Sea-Tac Keel” was an oversized magazine published bimonthly for the employees of the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Tacoma Yard, which was a subsidiary of the Todd Shipyards Corporation. It was published at the “foot of Alexander Avenue” in Tacoma, Washington. The publication primarily focused on the shipyards and the ongoing ship-building effort due to World War II, which was happening at the time. From welders and carpenters to time-checkers and maintenance staff, you would find content celebrating the hard work on every level of the shipyard.

The regular columns include large two-page photo-essays on various projects happening that month, health information from the staff physicians, and profiles of shipyard staff, among other articles. One of the profiles for the "WINS" (Women in Shipyards) article in the June 1944 issue was written on a mother daughter welding team: Mrs. Gladys Hutterman and her daughter, Betty.

The two women, along with Mr. Hutterman, moved to Washington from Colorado the year before. “Now all three of them commute daily from Carbonado, and think nothing of it”, the article reports. "We're from a state of mountains, and to see all that water, and the immense flat-top gliding down the ways was a wonderful welcome to a new home," Mrs. Hutterman recalls. "And now to know that we are a part of building the ships, we realize we are helping bring an end to all this mess." Ask the two of them how they like their work, and you are met with nothing but big smiles, and an enthusiastic "it's wonderful," and "wouldn't be doing anything else, we're really glad we came to Sea-Tac!"

The photo-essays in the magazine include a number of images, in an album like fashion, that document many aspects of the operations. There is a photo of Janitor Michael McQuade wearing the purple heart he was awarded after fighting in France in World War I. Next to that Image is a husband-and-wife team working on cleaning a section of the yard. You could expect to see both large and small scale jobs.

We encourage you to leaf through these never before shared magazines and get a glimpse of the individuals behind the monumental work of the Sea Tac/Todd Pacific Shipyards from 1943-1944.

Currently, we have a total of three issues completely scanned and accessible in ORCA. These can be found by following the links below (don't forget to click the thumbnails see the entire issue). If you are curious to see the other issues, please let us know!

KEEL, Feb 12th, 1944

KEEL, June 19th, 1944

KEEL, June 1944