SSHSA's 21st Century Vision
Born of 19th century enthusiasm for an enlightened citizenry, museums and historical societies were founded in earnest in the 20th century. The major collections of Boston and New York are less than 150 years old. In 1935, The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) was launched with a mission to identify, acquire, and preserve archival material that documents the history of ships and to make such materials available to the public. Today, it’s impossible to think of an America without maritime collections.
In February 2007, the appointment of Matthew Schulte as SSHSA’s first executive director provided the impetus for a formal long-range planning effort. Undertaken by the Board of Trustees and a staff working group, this task has given coherence to the conduct of SSHSA’s affairs over the next decade and is bringing directed energy to a full realization of SSHSA’s programs and the identification of institutional priorities and providing added discipline to the allocation of resources.
Just as steam travel was revolutionary in the 19th century and offered the fastest mode of transportation for people and things to get from one place to another, 21st century technology allows us to share instantaneously the safe passage of ideas, information, and images via the world wide web. SSHSA, recognized as a leader in maritime collections and the world's oldest and largest membership-based steamship historical organization, is undertaking a multi-year effort to create a virtual museum.
Into the 21st century, the role of SSHSA will be as an educator and steward of maritime resources. With SSHSA's collection fully on the web, our incredible resources could be used to tell the stories-past, present, and future-of maritime industries and discoveries, as well as related areas of technology, commerce, culture, and immigration. While much on the web is seen as ephemeral or of-the-moment, the comprehensive SSHSA virtual museum will be grounded in real objects, documents, and photographs and a primary source for all levels of interest.
Consistent with the requirements of its mission, SSHSA is committed to:
Catalogue, cultivate, and digitize the archives and collections;
Seek a wider base for its activities via the internet;
Deepen and expand the knowledge, history and importance of sea transportation;
Provide the material conditions necessary to encourage new research, writing, and artistic renderings of ships, passengers, and crews; and
Build for the future by engaging the imagination of youth with sea travel and its innovations by highlighting the importance of world trade and open markets made possible by sea transportation (a timely subject, given the need to restore the public's trust on the heels of the financial crisis and ongoing national financial anxiety).
SSHSA conceives of its future not as a traditional museum (although public display must play a role), but rather as a place encouraging and fostering the interchange of ideas, images, research and writing that have consequence in advancing the role ships play in our world.
To that end, the SSHSA Board has formed a committee called Facing Our Future to address issues of vision, growth, transition, relevance, and permanence. SSHSA recently engaged the services of YoungAssociates to test the feasibility of SSHSA's organizational goals and its ability to institutionalize, develop, and stay connected to its mission, members, stakeholders, and the greater maritime community. Together, SSHSA staff and leadership have defined the organizational needs that will enable SSHSA to reach beyond the immediate, to become a sustainable and socially vibrant organization firmly positioned as the leading historical institution of significance in the national field of maritime heritage. To check on the current status of SSHSA's Plan, please contact Matthew Schulte, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
SSHSA's Image Porthole
An industry leading tool currently in place is our Image Porthole. More than 60,000 digitized maritime photos are currently available online via the SSHSA Image Porthole
Since SSHSA launched its innovative "Image Porthole" in 2008, more than 60,000 "lost" pictures of ships, ports, and people now have been preserved, digitized and presented online. Never seen before photos continue to be added as time and funds allow.
SSHSA members can interact with the Image Porthole database and help us identify the forgotten images. General public may login as guests and view the images. This site has become the "Shipipedia" of the Internet.
Visit www.sshsaimageporthole.org to access SSHSA's Image Porthole. You may also immediately purchase high-quality photos right now by visiting our partner e-commerce site www.shiphistory.org.