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Roy Morris Photographs of the SS Morro Castle, 1934-1935

 Collection — Box: 1, Object: 1-9
Identifier: SC-0026

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of nine photographs of the SS Morro Castle taken from a pier in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The images depict the vessel after it caught fire on its route from Havana to New York and was stranded on a sand bar near the Jersey shore (137 people died in the disaster). Eight of the photos were taken on September 9th, 1934, right after the disaster took place. The ninth was taken in January 1935 and shows the vessel from a snow covered beach (it was not removed until March 1935). Some images depict the ship alone and others show a large crowd of onlookers. A few of the photographs contain handwritten captions on the back.


  • 1934-09 - 1935-02


Language of Materials

Captions on back of photographs are written in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Appointments to examine materials must be made in advance. Please e-mail 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.

Historical Note

The Morro Castle was a luxury cruise ship on the Ward Line running between New York City and Havana. On the night of September 7th, 1934, the ship was making its way through a severe storm off the coast of New Jersey when a fire was discovered and quickly blazed through the vessel. Despite the rescue efforts of the Coast Guard, local fishing boats, and a National Guard airplane, 137 of the 548 people on board perished, with bodies washing up on the beaches of nearby resort towns. After the fire subsided the ship came to rest on a sandbar off of Asbury Park, where it remained until March of 1935. Official investigators concluded that that there were no fire detectors in public areas of the ship; the captain did not send distress calls until it was too late; and the crew was not properly trained to cope with the emergency. Some contemporary researchers have concluded that the fire was set by a crew member.


9 Photographic Prints

Immediate Source of Acquisition

According to letters on file, the photos were donated to the library in 2000 by a Ms. Mary Morris of Trenton, NJ, and were taken by her late husband Mr. Roy Morris (deceased in 1993 at age 87).

Related Materials

The Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler has a Morro Castle display that includes a ship model; the ship’s original bell; and a small quantity of artifacts from the ship including a Morro Castle life jacket, key, and crew pass.


Mappen, Marc. "Morro Castle." Encyclopedia of New Jersey, edited by Maxine N. Lurie, and Marc Mappen, Rutgers University Press, 1st edition, 2004. Credo Reference, Accessed 09 Dec 2017.
Review of When the Dancing Stopped: The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake. Publishers Weekly, Accessed 09 Dec 2017.


Roy Morris Photographs of the SS Morro Castle, 1934-1935
Annie Tummino
December 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen B. Luce Library Repository

6 Pennyfield Avenue
Bronx NY 10465 United States
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