Search Finding Aids
Philadelphia Maritime Exchange Records
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
- Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
- Philadelphia Maritime Exchange Records
- Date [inclusive]:
- Call Number:
- 100 Linear feet
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The Philadelphia Maritime Exchange was organized in 1875 and incorporated in 1882 as a not-for-profit corporation with the stated mission of enhancing the commercial viability of the Port of Philadelphia. Its membership throughout its existance has encompassed the wide variety of individuals and business involved with trade via the Delaware River. From its inception, one of the main functions of the Exchange has been to decrease turnaround times on ships in the port through the monitoring and documenting of ship movements on the lower Delaware. Through the use of its various reporting stations along the eighty-eight nautical miles from the Delaware Breakwater to the city of Philadelphia, the organization has tracked ship movements and cargoes during its entire existence. This information, in turn, has then been relayed to the central office in Philadelphia in order to be made available to the organization's membership. From its inception, the Exchange has also been involved in the physical enhancement of the port, including lobbying for government assistance with improvements at both the state and national levels.
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of over 300 volumes containing handwritten entries recording information deemed to be essential to commercial trade on the river by the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange (PME). This includes documentation of ship arrivals and departures, ship cargoes, ship movements on the river, and required government documentation.
The volumes are separated into subgroups according to the titles given on the volumes. Each of these subgroups are arranged into larger groups according to the primary information contained within. For instance, the "Arrival" volumes make up one subgroup within the "VOLUMES CONTAINING INFORMATION ON ARRIVALS AND CLEARANCES" group. More information on each group can be found in the scope and content note for the respective groups.
This collection offers a number of challenges for usage in that the volumes are all chronologically based and there is only rarely an alphabetical index according to ship name (except for 1921-1955). In addition, there are occasional gaps in coverage for most of the subgroups. However, in the first group containing information on arrivals and clearances, the volumes listed under the names "Arrivals--Foreign and Coastwise," and "Clearances" are nearly complete from the beginnings of PME in 1875 to 1967. Thus, in many cases, the most efficient entry into the collection is to consult one of these two volumes for the date range of interest (particularly if one is seaching for a specific ship and has an approximate date that the ship came or went from Philadelphia). Once the particular ship is found, the date of arrival or clearance can often be used to access supplimentary information in other volumes, such as cargoes or ship movements along the river.
The collection consists in large part of oversize volumes (approx. 14x18x2.5 inches), and a lesser amount of smaller sized volumes. The volumes are in reasonably good condition, although some of the leather bindings are beginning to degrade to a fine red powder (red rot) and have loose spines. Repository staff will assist researchers in handling these volumes.
Hagley Museum and Library Philadelphia Maritime Exchange Records, 1875-1957 Call Number: Manuscripts and Archives, 1380 5.5 Linear Ft.
Information on ship arrivals and clearances can also be found in back issues of the Philadelphia Inquirer, in the "Marine News" or "Shipping News" section.
Published Sources on the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange
--Philadelphia Maritime Exchange, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange (Philadelphia: Dando Printing and Publishing Company). Note: These yearly reports were put out by the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange from its inception and contain a plethora of information such as updates on their reporting stations, governmental lobbying activities of the Exchange, monthly and yearly cumulative totals of the port's shipping activity, rules and regulations of the both the Exchange and the Port of Philadelphia.
--Hugh N. Emerson, Eighty-eight Nautical Miles on the Delware: The Philadelphia Maritime Exchange, 1875-1950 (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Maritime Exchange, 1950)
--Frank H. Taylor, The Handbook of the Lower Delaware: Ports, Tides, Pilots, Quarantine Stations, Light-House Service, Life-Saving and Maritime Reporting Stations (Philadephia: George S. Harris & Sons, Printers, 1895)