Strength in Numbers

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A long and successful history of working in partnership with other organizations, regional, state, and national government agencies, and the private sector has meant that significant work has been done to preserve and safeguard our shared maritime heritage, but there is still much work to be done! And we call upon you to join us now to help preserve what will be lost if we do not act….

“[These ships] are far more than quaint relics of a bygone era. They embody the noblest aspirations of a people. They speak not only of what is past, but to what endures: ingenuity, intrepidity and an insatiable appetite for freedom and a better life in a better world.”
— Hon. Christopher Dodd, United States Senator from Connecticut

KaimagThe National Maritime Historical Society is the national voice for America’s maritime heritage—helping to raise awareness of our nation’s history and the role seafaring has played in shaping the United States of America along with the rest of the world.

From its beginnings as a small group of maritime preservationists that came together determined to save an 1899 merchant barque, Kaiulani, the last American-built square rigger to round Cape Horn, the National Maritime Historical Society has become the standard bearer for America’s maritime history and heritage.

As NMHS entered the new millennium, its board of trustees determined to review the Society’s past accomplishments in order to provide a perspective and a framework for reflection on its future vision and mission. As a result of deliberations which were aided by outside counsel, the trustees redefined the mission of the Society:

“… to preserve and perpetuate the maritime history of the United States and to invite all Americans to share in the challenging heritage of seafaring.”

Sea History 158 coverThrough its publications, educational programs, sail training and the preservation of historic ships, The National Maritime Historical Society raises awareness of our nation’s maritime heritage and the role seafaring has played in shaping civilization.

NMHS members are a diverse group of individuals interested in the sea and maritime history: merchant mariners, ship builders, naval architects, recreational sailors, historians, educators, conservationists, preservationists, leaders of the maritime industry, military members of the sea services, and people from all walks of life interested in history. Now numbering some 10,000, they share a common bond in their love of the sea, a fascination with the challenge of seafaring, and  a commitment to the preservation of our maritime heritage in the broadest sense. America’s maritime academies are enrolled in the Society, to encourage the future leaders of our sea services to study their rich maritime heritage early in their professional careers.

In the words of The New York Times, the Society has established “a rich and varied record of achievement.”


Our mission

… is to preserve and perpetuate the maritime history of the United States and to invite all Americans to share in the challenging heritage of seafaring.

The National Maritime Historical Society is a 501(c) 3, non-profit organization with a board of trustees whose elected officials are the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary. The officers and the respective committee chairs comprise the Executive Committee. The overseers, advisors, and honorary trustees are composed of prominent persons from the maritime world who lend their names, expertise, and guidance to the operation of the Society.



NMHS History

1963 to Present 

Karl Kortum (1927-1996)  

Peter Stanford (1927-2016) 

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