Skip to main content

Marine Society of the City of New York Records, 1769-1990s

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-0010
The collection includes historical documents and memoirs, biographical and membership information, correspondence, financial records, invoices, ship manifests, charter parties, mortgage papers, photographs, maps, board minutes, and log books. Of note, the collection includes the original 1770 charter and correspondence signed by George Washington.

Dates

  • Circa 1769-1990s

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Appointments to examine materials must be made in advance. Please e-mail library@sunymaritime.edu for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproductions may be provided to users to support research and scholarship. However, collection use is subject to all copyright laws. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Extent

30 Linear Feet (33 boxes, 44 log books, several framed items and objects. )

Overview

Records of the Marine Society of the City of New York, an organization established in 1770 to provide relief for distressed ship masters, or their widows and children, and to promote maritime knowledge.

Historical Context

In November 1769, thirty-two people met in the Exchange Building to discuss the formation of a society to provide relief for distressed ship masters, their widows and children, and to promote maritime knowledge. A committee was appointed to draw up articles, which served as the basis of the charter granted by King George III in April 1770 (the organization was originally registered as “The Marine Society of the City of New York in the Province of New York in America”). During the Revolutionary War, Society members could be found in both loyalist groups and the Sons of Liberty. After the war, in 1786, by Act of Legislature, the Society became “The Marine Society of the City of New York, in the State of New York.”

Early members of the Society included prominent merchants and attorneys as well as ship captains. Leonard Lispenard (1714 -1790), the Society’s first president, was a member of New York City's revolutionary committees that seized control of the city after the American Revolutionary War broke out, and led a small militia that seized a British supply ship in the harbor. Alexander Hamilton was a Charter Member, and early honorary members included President George Washington and New York Governor DeWitt Clinton.

The Marine Society of New York played a central role in the establishment of SUNY Maritime College (then the New York Nautical School) in 1874, and the Sailors’ Snug Harbor retirement home, built on Staten Island in the 1830s for “aged, decrepit, and worn out” sailors. The President and Vice-President of the Marine Society serve, by office, as members of the Trustees of Sailors' Snug Harbor. In 1854 the Society also founded the Mariner's Family Home on Staten Island to provide for the wives and relatives of seamen.

In 1882 the Marine Society purchased the Seaman's Retreat, Staten Island's first hospital (originally founded in 1831) and leased it to the U.S. government. On the top floor of the main building in 1887, a young doctor in the Marine Hospital Service, Joseph J. Kinyoun, set up a lab, creating the original National Institutes of Health (the center was moved to Washington in 1902). The federal government acquired the Seaman's Retreat in 1903 and the proceeds from the sale were shared equally by the Marine Society, the Mariner’s Family Asylum, and the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children of Seamen.

The Marine Society has provided assistance to over 5,000 distressed shipmasters, their widows and orphans. Today, the organization continues to thrive, dedicating itself to the founding principles set forth in its charter over two hundred years ago.

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged in the following series: Members and Allottees; Financial Documents; Retreat Property; Mortgages; Correspondence; Founding Documents; Minutes; and Photographs, Maps and Blueprints.

Physical Location

Stephen B. Luce Library, SUNY Maritime College 6 Pennyfield Avenue Bronx, NY 10465 Telephone: (718) 409-7231 library@sunymaritime.edu

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection deposited on permanent loan basis at SUNY Maritime College by the Marine Society of the City of New York. The collection was originally deposited in 1969, with accretions in 1976, 1998, 2009, and 2011.

Related Materials

The records of Sailors' Snug Harbor Records are held at Maritime College. The President and Vice-President of the Marine Society serve, by office, as members of the Trustees of Sailors' Snug Harbor.

"About the Society" on the website of the Marine Society of New York - http://www.marinesocietyny.org/about.htm accessed on May 22, 2017.

"Save Seaman's Retreat: Landmark has fallen prey to vandals and time," Staten Island Advance Editorial, published July 05, 2013; accessed on the web - http://www.silive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/07/save_seamans_retreat_landmark.html on May 12, 2017.

Processing Information

The majority of this collection was processed by consulting archivist Jannette L. D’Esposito in 2013-2014 with generous funding from the New York State Archives Documentary Heritage Program. Ms.D’Esposito was supervised during this project by Mr. Greg Murphy, Head of Reference and Access Services and Archivist. Some of the collection was acquired and processed previously in 1969 and 1975. Ms. D’Esposito retained the original order of the materials to the best of her ability.

In 2017 Archivist Annie Tummino migrated the finding aid to ArchivesSpace, making edits to the description for clarity (no changes to the physical arrangement were made).
Title
Marine Society of the City of New York Records
Status
completed
Description rules
dacs
Edition statement
Finding aid created by Consulting Archivist Jannette D'Esposito under the supervision of Greg Murphy, Head of Reference and Access Services, in April 2014. In 2017 Archivist Annie Tummino migrated the finding aid to ArchivesSpace and updated the description.

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen B. Luce Library Repository

Contact:
6 Pennyfield Avenue
Bronx NY 10465 United States
(718) 409-7231