Collection ASM0015 - Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers

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Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers


  • 1882-1995 (Creation)


79 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Ralph Middleton "Commodore" Munroe, avid yachtsman, successful businessman, and celebrated patriarch of the Munroe family, made Coconut Grove his home in the late 1800s. Munroe and his family moved to South Florida from Staten Island, New York, to provide a more beneficial environment for his wife, Eva Maelia Hewitt, who suffered from tuberculosis. Unfortunately, both his wife and daughter succumbed to illness and died shortly after their move to Miami.

Munroe subsequently split his time between Staten Island and the Grove, often staying at the Peacock family hotel, The Bay View House, later known as the Peacock Inn. Several years before the turn of the century he bought land recognized today as the Barnacle State Historic Park, where he built his permanent home. Munroe also founded the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, and through his continual enjoyment of sailing and boating life, met his second wife, Jessie Wirth. They had two children, Wirth and Patty.

The Commodore's passion for the sea was only matched by his interest in photographing. Munroe's constant recording of the beauty of Miami with his camera provides an invaluable and lasting visual record of the time and place. The Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers consists of letters, diaries, household accounts, journals, and photographs chronicling the activities of one of South Florida's earliest families. Among the holdings are, the typescript of the popular autobiography, The Commodore's Story, as well as diaries written by Patty Munroe detailing South Florida "happenings." Photographs offer at look at South Florida scenic sites during the first three decades of the twentieth century.

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Scope and content

Ralph Middleton Munroe (1851-1933) settled in Florida in 1891, drawn by its lush tropical landscapes and beautiful seashores. An avid yachtsman and photographer, the Commodore traveled the South Florida coast capturing images of its pristine wilderness and the early inhabitants. Munroe’s photographs provide a unique visual record of South Florida history before its rapid urbanization. The Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers contain a rich assortment of photographs, albums, postcards, correspondence, clippings and manuscripts that document the frontier life in Coconut Grove.

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Conditions governing access

This collection is open for research.

Physical access

Items from this collection are kept on-campus and may be requested from the first floor Kislak Center in the Otto G. Richter Library at University of Miami.

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Conditions governing reproduction

University of Miami does not own copyright. It is incumbent on the user to obtain copyright from the original creator.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Selected materials from this collection have been digitized.

Related archival materials

Dewolf, Katherine Herreshoff.  The Story of the America’s Cup.  North Plymouth: Plymouth Cordage Company, 1930.

Fielding, Henry. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. New York: William Durell and Co., 1826.

Gilbert, W.S. and Arthur Sullivan (composer). The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu. New York: WM. A Pond & Co., 1885

Hawkesworth, John. A New Voyage Round the World, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770 and 1771. New York: James Rivington, 1774.

Markward, Rose. Dainty Desserts for Dainty People.  Knox Gelatine.

Parrish, Allan Reid (compiled). Official Directory of Miami Florida, and Nearby Towns in Dade County.  Miami: Allan R. Parrish, 1903.

Street, Oliver Day.  Symbolism of the Three Degrees.  Washington D.C.: Masonic Service Association of  the United States, 1922.

Ward, C.H. (compiled). The Lure of the Southland: Miami and Miami Beach Florida. N.p.: C.H. Ward, 1915

Wiebe, Edward. Quarter Century Edition of the Paradise of Childhood. A Practical Guide to Kindergartners. Springfield: Milton Bradley Company, 1901.

Yandell, W.F. The Story of the Telephone in Miami.

Cooking Club Magazine. 9.3 (March, 1907).

McMonagle & Rogers Cooking Recipes. Middletown: McMonagle & Rogers.

Non-Secret Medicines.

Rural Recreation Parks in Dade County, Florida.

Shall We Go To Florida? New York: The Review of Reviews Corporation, 1925.

Stillmore Secrets. Milwaukee: Pabst Brewing Co.

Views of Miami Beach. Miami: Miami Mortgage & Guaranty Co., 1927?

Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture: 1901. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902.

Everglades Digital Library : Everglades Biographies, Ralph Middleton Munroe

Information about related materials is available at

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