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Online Exhibitions

We're Going Down The Shore: Public travel from city streets to river to seashore 1890-1940

Step back into the first half of the last century.

Step back into a Philadelphia with very few personal automobiles and fewer bridges across the Delaware River.

Step back into a Philadelphia rowhouse without air conditioning in summertime.

Commodore Richard Dale: Naval Commander and Philadelphia Leader

Richard Dale (1756 - 1826) fought in the Continental Navy under John Barry and was first lieutenant under John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. He captained merchant vessels in the early years of American involvement in the China Trade, prior to his selection by George Washington as one of the six original commodores of the permanent United States Navy. In that role, he commanded a blockade of Tripoli during the conflict with the Barbary cities in 1801.

A resident of Philadelphia when not at sea, he lived in Society Hill with his wife and children, and devoted his later years to religious and charitable organizations.

The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum: How a Forgotten Museum Forever Altered American Industry

Though it has been all but forgotten in our time, the Philadelphia Commercial Museum served a crucial role in pushing the United States into international trade. Opened in 1897 and serving as the predecessor to the Bureau of International Commerce, the Commercial Museum taught business owners and schoolchildren alike about the world outside America's borders.

Read about the museum's role in history here, and visit the institution through a digitized collection of photo album images taken at the height of the Commercial Museum's influence, roughly 1910.

Steering a Course: A Short History of the Pennsylvania Nautical School and Pennsylvania Maritime Academy

During its 58 year existence, the Pennsylvania Nautical School and Pennsylvania Maritime Academy graduated nearly 2,000 cadets, many of whom went on to careers in the Merchant Marine, Navy, and Coast Guard.

Discover more about the history of the school in this online exhibit illustrated with documents and photographs from the Archives of Independence Seaport Museum.

This project was funded by the generous contributions of Schoolship Alumni and others to the Schoolship Legacy Project.

What We Saved: Old-Time Ephemera from the Seaport Museum Archives

A napkin, a postcard, a matchbook - all are designed to be discarded, but sometimes we keep these souvenirs because they have personal significance. They serve as tangible reminders of memories we don't want to forget.

This exhibit features a collection of ephemera from a bygone era, including ocean liner memorabilia, Atlantic City postcards, and Victorian valentines.

Amenities Abound at Seamen's Church Institute: A Modern Hotel for a 20th Century Port

Philadelphia's chapter of the Seamen's Church Institute was founded in 1919, uniting two existing organizations of the same purpose under one name. One of their first efforts was to build a modern hotel near the waterfront. This exhibit explores the early history of the hotel, and it's impact on the sailor and maritime communities in Philadelphia.

This is part of a project funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation.

"Glory Enoufgh for Me": Letters from a Civil War Sailor

The papers of William Tipton offer an insight into the life and work of a sailor onboard a Union ship during the Civil War. Uncover his experiences of the Civil War, as a son, father, sailor and man.

Students, Stories, and the 'Silent Service': Submarine Veterans Oral History Project

In an effort to collect, preserve and honor memories of World War II veterans, a partnership was formed between the National Parks Service, Maritime Academy Charter School, the Delaware Valley Chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans of World War II (USSVWWII), the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI) and Independence Seaport Museum to create Students, Stories, and the 'Silent Service' - an oral history project focusing on the personal experiences of submariners.

These stories are not just being placed in an archive, but are enhancing the visitor experience on board the USS Becuna, the museum's WWII and Cold War BALAO-class submarine.

Titanic Survivor: Selections from the Thayer Family Collection

One family's experience with the infamous ship is illustrated by highlights from the Thayer Family Collection, including one of the only extant copies of the first class passenger list.The Thayer family lived on the Main Line, just outside of the city of Philadelphia, and traveled extensively throughout their lives.

Ladies Who Launch: Ship Christening Photographs from Delaware Valley Shipyards

A collection of images from launching ceremonies at local shipbuilding companies, including candid photos and portraits of the women who sponsored the ships built by New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, N.J., and Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Wilmington, Del. Dating from 1905 to 1960, the photos show the scale of the launching parties in relation to the enormity of the ships, the effervescent crash of champagne bottles, and fabulous fashions of the day.