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The Records of the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster are now available for research at the Davis Library, St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. To view these materials, please make an appointment.

Black Tom Island

Source: Report On Explosion at Black Tom, N.J., July 30, 1916, by Colonel B.W. Dunn, Chief Inspector of The Bureau of Explosives. February 1, 1917. Photograph No. 3, page 7.

The Black Tom Island explosion occurred off the coast of New Jersey on July 30, 1916. Soon after, a group of insurance companies organized the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster to make sabotage claims against Germany. The case was heard by the German-American Mixed Claims Commission and Germany was originally found not liable, but after a rehearing in 1939, several Germans were found responsible for the explosion. The result was a settlement of $50 million to be paid out to a group of 72 insurance companies. This collection includes newspaper clippings, Committee meeting minutes, correspondence, briefs on the hearings, damage reports, auditors’ reports, account books, bank statements, and additional records from 1916 to 1969.