The United States has long been dependent on the seas, but Americans know little about their maritime history. While Britain and other countries have established national museums to nurture their seagoing traditions, America has left that responsibility to private institutions. In this first-of-its-kind history, James M. Lindgren focuses on a half-dozen of these great museums, ranging from Salem's East India Marine Society, founded in 1799, to San Francisco's Maritime Museum and New York's South Street Seaport Museum, which were established in recent decades.
Begun by activists with unique agendas—whether overseas empire, economic redevelopment, or cultural preservation—these museums have displayed the nation's complex interrelationship with the sea. Yet they all faced chronic shortfalls, as policymakers, corporations, and everyday citizens failed to appreciate the oceans' formative environment. Preserving Maritime America shows how these institutions shifted course to remain solvent and relevant and demonstrates how their stories tell of the nation's rise and decline as a commercial maritime power.
About the Author
JAMES M. LINDGREN is professor of history at the State University of New York Plattsburgh.
"For those interested in the nuts-and-bolts, behind-the-scenes, down-and-dirty stories of maritime museums, James M. Lindgren has created six powerful dramas."—Joel Stone, senior curator at the Detroit Historical Society and editor of Interpreting Maritime History at Museums and Historic Sites
"Preserving Maritime America is an interesting—and insightful—look at the establishment of six of America's nautical museums . . . It's a particularly good read for those in the business of education and preservation. And it also has something to offer anyone in the realm of cultural tourism and related nonprofits."—The Day
"A welcome addition and invaluable reference to museum leaders, public historians, and scholars interested in maritime history, oceanic studies, and history and memory."—The New England Quarterly
"There is much to admire in this book . . . Preserving Maritime America serves as the important link between an interested, but often unknowledgeable, public and professionally trained historians and curators about what it means to be a maritime nation, the importance of preservation, and the role museums play in bridging this divide."—Nautical Research Journal
"Lindgren's profoundly researched account of these museums' machinations incorporates accounts from the institutional archives and weaves in personal interviews and media interpretations to provide an eye-opening explanation for why each of these organizations is where it is today . . . It is well written, thoughtfully presented, and absolutely worth consideration if your career or passion intersects with maritime museums in any way."—Sea History
"Preserving Maritime America is an excellent examination of a group of often-overlooked museums . . . They and this book are worthy of study."—Journal of American History