Hello readers and welcome back to the Library bog. Some of you may remember a previous Director of The Mariners’ Museum named William Wilkinson, who served from 1973 until 1991. When Wilkinson passed away in March of 2010 he left behind a grand legacy to the Museum, which includes the Chesapeake Bay gallery, recognition of the Mueum as a prestigious museum, and a beautiful treasure: a scrapbook on the SS United States.
Wilkinson’s scrapbook contains a wide variety of material, from articles and photographs to souvenir logs and even meal menus. The largest collection of items is a series of articles covering a range of topics that are almost entirely comprised of newspaper clippings. These clippings report on the launching of the ship, her attainment of the transatlantic speed record, and many other notable features the ship possesses. After the articles, the most numerous type of object is a series of meal menus. These menus detail some of the exquisitely prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner options available to the passengers. Some of the options make ones’ mouth water, but others – like Smoked Ox Tongue and Boiled Pig’s Knuckles from the July 20th 1957 Luncheon Menu – force your eyes to quickly dart away before your appetite spoils.
There are a host of other pieces in Wilkinson’s scrapbook – a postcard, photograph booklets, passenger list and even a handwritten note. The care and attention given to the preservation of all these items, particularly the articles, shows just how much the SS United States meant to Wilkinson. The pieces span years of time and cover such a wide range of possible items that one can’t help but be awed by the collection. Exploring the scrapbook is almost like going back in time: you get a hint at what it must have been like, seeing the same newspaper clippings, pictures and meal options as people back then did. And isn’t that part of what makes scrapbooking special? The ability to access such intimate, firsthand relics from the SS United States is truly a treasure worth having.