Online Exhibits

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.


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.


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.