John G. Alden began his design career as an apprentice with B. B. Crowninshield (MIT Class of 1889) in 1902 and became a productive designer and experienced sailor by the time he departed to start his own Boston design office in 1909. His initial success was modest until he won his first Bermuda Race with Malabar IV in 1923. Aldens subsequent Bermuda Race victories in 1926 with Malabar VII and Malabar X in 1932 provided his firm enduring fame and success. This long-lived design business finally closed for good in 2008.
This photographic database reflects examples of materials in the Alden Collection in addition to the large number of plans. Although a major portion of the Alden Collection was cataloged and scanned under the direction of Niels Helleberg, additional processing work is required to provide full access to this extensive and extraordinarily complete American marine design record.
With the opening of the new MIT Museum at Kendall, the museum is once again able to provide digital copies of Alden plans. However, plan orders will take several months to fill due to the volume of pent-up demand. Requests sent after the museum opening (October 1, 2022) will be answered in the order received.
To speed up the process, please include the following information in your request: the Alden design number; how you will use the plans (i.e., restoring an existing vessel, building a new vessel, publication, research); and whether you would like a complete plan set or are looking for a specific detail. Digital copies of plans cost $15 apiece. Early Alden designs usually have 6 to 10 plans each; later designs can have between 15 and 30.