Steamship Historical Society
Celebrating the Maritime Heritage of Powerful Ships, Legendary Passengers & Hardworking Crews Established in 1935
MaritimeMatters’ Founder Martin Cox interviewed Matthew Schulte, Executive Director of the SSHSA
MC: Hello and welcome Matt, for reader’s just joining us, can you tell us briefly about what the SSHSA does?
MS: We are the Ship History people, and although we’ve been around since 1935, not a lot of folks are aware of all we offer.
We are a non-profit 501 c 3 (tax deductible) organization supported solely by members, friends and through fundraisers and grants. We produce the 88 page full color quarterly magazine called PowerShips, and formerly presented as Steamboat Bill. The current issue is #300, which is quite a run for a traditional paper printed publication, yet electronic versions are available and primarily marketed to our supporters overseas. We have 2500 traditional subscribers in every state in the USA as well as in several dozen countries worldwide. We focus on engine-powered vessels with our education program highlighting the 100 year transition from Sail to Steam (appx. 1807 to 1907).
MC: And can you describe your new location in Warwick, Rhode Island? And what visitors can see?
MS: The Ship History Center is a dynamic place that is evolving. We are an archive, a library, a museum, an office, a gathering place and a repository of ideas and innovations. We are small, our building is 8,000 square feet, but we utilize technology to reach the masses. Our goal is to connect to all via the modern modes of sharing information through the internet. But the physical space has all sorts of resources and we try to listen to visitors to see what it is they are interested in, and then following their lead. We have the typical bells and whistles, but also a half a million photographs, several hundred works of art, objects and artifacts and perhaps the best collection of ocean liner and ship ephemera in the world — tens of thousands of pages of brochures, deck plans, menus, tickets, and much more.
SSHSA 30: SSHSA’s ephemera room contains thousands of brochures, menus, deck plans and other memorabilia collected throughout the last eight decades.
MC: Please tell us about the fundraising event.
MS: It’s expensive for us to have everything available here under one roof and accessible for the first time – ever. We had a library in Baltimore for many years but that closed in the early 2000’s. The artwork and other materials had been in storage in various places for decades. Now it’s all under one roof here in Rhode Island. So we saw a need to generate new revenue streams to reach more people, and to develop and implement our education program – so that the next generation will know how maritime transportation in America developed. We decided a few years ago to recreate various experiences related to holdings in our collections –from specific events in history. This lead to celebrate the RMS Queen Mary last year as we have much from her 80 year legacy….. We recreated the menu and brought Commodore Hoard in from Long Beach as our keynote speaker. This April 8 we will be honoring the RMS Titanic as it’s been 105 years since her loss, and although we all know about the tragedy and terrific human suffering, the mystique continues to captivate, and thus we’ve opted to recreate the final dinner aboard.
Hamilton Whistle: An emergency whistle from the Alexander Hamilton of the Hudson River Day Line. Built in 1925, the ship transported passengers along the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, New York.
MC: And what are your fundraising goals?
MS: Last year we raised $30,000. This year our goal is $50,000. We have a much larger venue and have opportunities for sponsors, silent auction items, raffles and a live
auction as well.
MC: So as members people get a quarterly magazine? What else does the SSHSA offer?
MS: Probably the most important benefit is the kinship. We link people from all walks of life together, as they all understand the importance of preserving maritime heritage.
MC: The website is? and social media for people to check it out?
MS: Yes we are active on all the typical social media channels such as twitter, facebook, and Instagram–and others and our main website is www.sshsa.org
MC: Anything you’d like younger readers to know, or maritime fans.
Steamer trunks: A collection of steamer trunks show visitors how the upper class traveled on transatlantic voyages. The large suitcases were needed for trips that sometimes lasted for a week or more.
MS: We are bringing online new search engines and catalogues now…. we have about 60,000 photos online through our Image Porthole; we have our library of over 7000 volumes searchable now; Our brochure finding aide is getting ready to come live; the first 75 years of our Steamboat Bill magazine’s index is online now; all back issues of PowerShips and Steamboat Bill are available still from us in print or in PDF format; We have about 40 new
books in our ship store for sale directly by contacting us at email@example.com or by finding us on eBay. We also offer surplus books, brochures and memorabilia to researchers, members and friends.
MC: How many people work at the SSHSA, can you tell us about your staff and volunteers?
MS: We have 3 full time people, and about 6 part-timers and contract folks. Three of these people actually work in other states helping us with our magazine, advertising sales and grants writing. We have volunteers who come in on a weekly basis as well as typically two college work study students and 1 -3 interns at any given time.
MC: Thanks Matt, MaritimeMatters has long been a fan of the SSHSA, thank you for coming on.
MS: Our pleasure- as you know we are also fans of MM and proud that we presented you with an award for your hard work back in 2013.
There is plenty more room for friends and members — for people who think that our history is important and understand that while every ship cannot possibly be saved, the stories, legacy and information relating to them can and should be. That’s why we’re here and we welcome other like-minded individuals who want to preserve this important aspect of maritime history.
MC: I’ll enclose the information about this years anniversary event:
SSHSA’s Ocean Liner Dinner to feature Titanic, Bill Miller
Come join us in Rhode Island on Saturday, April 8, 2017, as we get together to pay tribute to the Titanic at our second annual Ocean Liner Dinner to benefit the SSHSA Ship History Center.
The subject of thousands of books, movies, television shows and even video games, there are few who haven’t heard some version of the liner’s tragic maiden voyage. But despite her tragic end, the Titanic’s story encompasses so much more than that one fateful night. She was an engineering marvel that inspired a number of shipbuilding innovations while she was under construction, and a grand representation of transatlantic travel at the turn of the century.
“Mr. Ocean Liner” Bill Miller will be our guest of honor for the evening, recalling some of the great Atlantic liners that crossed the ocean like floating palaces. Whether it was the suites and salons, the race for speed, the lavish interiors or the soldiers on board during wartime, there are thousands of stories that can be told about these mechanical marvels of their time. This is one event that you don’t want to miss out on.
Tickets are available right now for $150 each or $250 per couple. Call 401-463-3570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org now to reserve a spot. Rooms are available at the Radisson in Warwick by calling 1-800-916-4339. We hope to see you there!
For membership, publication and events information please visit www.sshsa.org
Ship History Center: 2500 Post Road, Warwick 02886 Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his photography has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York and London.The LA Maritime Museum has commissioned works and collected his photographs. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. A catalog from his series STRANDED (twilight of the ocean liner) was also published last year.
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