Please read the attached news release from SSHSA – the Steamship Historical Society of America. If you love ships and want to actively support the history of cruising consider joining the SSHSA. They publish an excellent quarterly magazine along with a newsletter and soon will have a web supported newsletter.
Documenting Maritime History:
STEAMSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA LAUNCHES INTERACTIVE PROJECT TO IDENTIFY 40,000+ SHIP, PORT AND PEOPLE IMAGES
Members, general public to help identify
lost and forgotten photos
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (May 22, 2008): In celebration of National Maritime Day, The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) today unveiled a new project aimed at documenting the history of over 40,000 lost and forgotten steamship navigation images dating from the 1850s through the 1980s.
Over a decade ago, the SSHSA acquired a collection of 38,000 color slide photos depicting ships, ports, steam trains, and people taken by the late Edward O. Clark, an SSHSA member, benefactor and historian who was born in New York and later lived in Chalfont, Pennsylvania. This was a lifelong passion of Mr. Clark, an avid photographer who traveled across the country pursuing interesting vessels, ports of call, and documenting the vanishing heritage of American steam navigation. The images — which were unidentified and sat idle and deteriorating — include maritime heritage, architecture and nature shots taken from land and sea.
From other sources, SSHSA selected approximately 2,000 fragile and threatened images dating from mid- 19th century to early 20th century. These photos are mostly large format glass plates, sourced from many different regions around the United States. Over the years, many of these images faded and grew discolored, and suffered deterioration from mildew and storage issues.
Thanks to a grant from The Champlin Foundations, SSHSA contracted with The Digital Ark, a Newport, R.I.-based company to process, clean, preserve, scan and prepare all of the images for display online. The resulting image database can be accessed via SSHSA’s Web site, www.sshsa.org. It is SSHSA’s goal to have its members and the general public view the photos online, in a worldwide effort to help identify the collection.
“Using our image database, members are able to browse the photos and type information about them directly onto their computer screen,” explains Robert C. Cleasby, president of SSHSA board of directors. “Non-members can email us with any information they have. By sharing their knowledge and helping to identify the collection of images, the world is collectively writing a history book. This is an exciting and highly interactive project that will help our organization document an era of ship travel to share with the world.”
The project, called “Image Porthole,” is consistent with the Society’s mission: to record, preserve and disseminate the history of engine-powered vessels for education, information, and research purposes. “Maritime history is our business, hence our choice to announce this project on National Maritime Day,” comments Matthew Schulte, executive director of the SSHSA. “This is an unprecedented project which, if the results are what we expect, will enable us to use our Web site as a research tool for people to identify additional collections in need of documentation. Already, several thousand other ‘orphaned’ images have been donated to our cause in recent weeks to be earmarked for future digitization and identification.”
Since the “Image Porthole” is now active, SSHSA is offering its database collaboratively to other museums, private collectors and archives so that they may utilize the technology to share their images with the public. Unrestricted high-resolution images are also available for e-commerce purchase through SSHSA’s Web site.
“It is our hope to obtain additional funding in the near future so we can share another several thousand more endangered images we have waiting to be identified, preserved and archived digitally,” Mr. Schulte adds. “For further research purposes, we can add motion pictures, video, sound, ship brochures, deck plans, posters, and shipping company promotional materials to our site to help preserve them – but it takes funds to make this happen. If we had not received the grant to work on the first 40,000 photos, I’m afraid the images quite frankly would have been lost forever.”
For more information on the Image Porthole project, contact The Steamship Historical Society of America at 1029 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, RI 02914; phone: 401-274-0805; www.sshsa.org
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The SSHSA is a non-profit organization founded in 1935, with approximately 2,500 members in 43 countries. Members range from maritime enthusiasts, professional and amateur historians, divers, genealogy and nautical buffs. SSHSA’s mission is recording, preserving and disseminating the history of engine-powered vessels for education, information, and research purposes. SSHSA maintains one of the largest libraries in North America devoted exclusively to the history of engine-powered vessels, with over 300,000 images, artifacts and memorabilia archived in 100 collections. There are 12 local and affiliated SSHSA chapters around the country providing members and guests with regular meetings that feature ship-related programs. The Society has published the critically acclaimed quarterly journal, Steamboat Bill, continuously since 1940, as well as thoroughly researched books and allied material on ship history. SSHSA is headquartered at 1029 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, RI 02915 USA; phone: (401) 274-0805; Web: www.sshsa.org