online exhibits

The Maritime
Virtual Art Museum

SEE THE SPECIAL Exhibits on display now in the SSHSA Maritime Virtual Art Museum.   MORE >



The authoritative magazine of the history of engine-powered vessels and the legacy of man's journey on the world's seas and waterways.

In this issue:

  • 'Mini Liners' of the 1930s
  • Alcoa's Combination Liners
  • The Ferry Binghamton: 1905-2017
  • Preana: One of Australia's Oldest Steam Vessels
  • Ship Research, Part 3: Flags at Sea & Funnel Marks



Featured in the SSHSA Bookstore

SS Independence/SS Constitution
Visit the SSHSA Bookstore to see the Extraordinary Historical Books Now Available... MORE >

Funding for the SSHSA educational outreach program is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities), the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program, and the Heritage Harbor Foundation.


Cruise ship Franca C.
Cruise ship Franca C. dockside in Istanbul, Turkey, August 8, 1971. - Braun Bros. Collection, SSHSA Archives.


The mission of the Steamship Historical Society of America is to record, preserve, and disseminate the history of engine-powered vessels. 

What Makes SSHSA Different?

In 1935 seven steamship historians and collectors formed the Steamship Historical Society of America as a means of bringing together amateur and professional historians interested in the history and development of steam navigation, past and present. 

Today SSHSA stewards a collection of hundreds of thousands of images, artifacts, periodicals, artwork, official records, memorabilia, and ephemera archived in more than 100 collections and devoted exclusively to the history of engine-powered vessels, their passengers and crew.  SSHSA also publishes the quarterly magazine PowerShips and has taken on the role of conservationist through our digital conservation project, the Image Porthole.

Our members include maritime collectors and artists, current and former crew members, historians and students, genealogists, scuba divers, cruise travelers, ship engineers and architects, and maritime history enthusiasts.

SSHSA holds non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt status and remains the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the world. SSHSA is a vital source and authority of the nautical and maritime history of engine-powered vessels, from the earliest steam-powered ships to modern ocean liners.

Join the thousands of maritime enthusiasts who prize their memberships in the Steamship Historical Society of America.

Member Benefits Include:

  • PowerShips magazine. This prestigious full color publication isn't just another maritime history magazine...it is the ship history magazine.
  • E-newsletters The Telegraph and Ahoy!
  • Special access to more than 60,000 historic digitized photographs.
  • Discounts on research, photos, and in the Ship Store;
  • Free maritime museum visits with any Cabin Class membership.
  • Attend special programs at the ShiPosium conference. 
  • Join a local chapter and meet fellow SSHSA members. 

Our Founders

Click here to read biographies of SSHSA's Founders

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 mschulte@sshsa.org


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Please contact SSHSA directly for photos as the online Image Porthole is under reconstruction.

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