What We Saved: Old-Time Ephemera from the Seaport Museum Archives - Independence Seaport Museum

Bon Voyage: Cruising in the
Mid-20th Century

The post World War II era saw a major boon for passenger liners. Ocean liners that had been pressed into service as troop transport ships for the war were refitted for tourist travel. Americans enjoying the economic prosperity of the 1950s found that they could afford vacations to Europe, and did so by the thousands aboard transatlantic ocean liners. However, the advent of commercial jet airliners in the 1960s soon meant the end for transatlantic passenger ships, as more and more vacationers opted for the convenience of air travel.

Luggage tag, SS United States

Luggage Tag

SS United States
United States Lines

Built in 1952 for the United States Lines, SS United States is the largest ocean liner ever built entirely in the US. On her maiden voyage, she set the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing, making the voyage from New York Harbor to the United Kingdom in 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes, and returning in 3 days, 10 hours, and 12 minutes. Her westbound crossing record is still unbroken.


Passenger list pamphlet, RMS Queen Elizabeth

Passenger List Pamphlet

R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth
Cunard Line

Queen Elizabeth, the largest ocean liner ever built, could accommodate over 2,200 passengers. Immediately after her construction in 1940, she was pressed into service as a troop transport ship for the allied forces during World War II. Once the war ended, Queen Elizabeth ruled the Atlantic as one of the most popular and elegant cruise ships of the mid twentieth century.


Bon voyage card

Bon Voyage Card

"You’re Gonna Be Missed!"
circa 1937


Bon voyage telegram


"Bon Voyage by Western Union"
Mid-20th century


Bon Voyage: Cruising in the Mid-20th Century

Album: Ocean Liners || Bon Voyage || Rowing || Ladies || Business || Down the Shore || Exhibit home

Contact Independence Seaport Museum Library