Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers, 1882-1995

By Beatrice Colastin Skokan

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Collection Overview

Title: Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers, 1882-1995

ID: ASM0015

Creator: Ralph Middleton Munroe and family

Extent: 79.0 Boxes. More info below.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Biographical Note

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.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 12 linear ft.

Separated 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.

Related Materials: Everglades Digital Library : Everglades Biographies, Ralph Middleton Munroe For more information please see http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim/bios/munroe.htm.

Related Publications:

Kent, Gertrude M. The Coconut Grove School in Pioneer Days, 1887-1894. Coral Gables, Fla.: Parker Printing, 1972

Note: Several of the photographs in this collection are published in this booklet.

Munroe, Ralph. The Commodore's Story. Various printings and editions.

Parks, Arva Moore. The Forgotten Frontier: Florida through the Lens of Ralph Middleton Munroe. Miami, Fla.: Centennial Press, 2004.

Parks, Arva Moore. The History of Coconut Grove, Florida, 1821-1925. Thesis (M.A.), University of Miami, 1971.

Parks, Arva Moore. Miami: The Magic City. Miami, Fla.: Centennial Press, 1991.

Preferred Citation: Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers, Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida.

Processing Information:

Processed by Grace L. Castro, Sadia M. Chaudhry, Cory Czajkowski and Tiffany Saulter under the supervision of Beatrice C. Skokan.

Preservation and Conservation consultants: Scott Reinke and Duvy Argandona.


Box and Folder Listing


Series 1: Photographs and AlbumsAdd to your cart.
Series I depicts 19th century "views" of Southern Florida and Staten Island. The photographs are visual documents of South Florida flora and fauna, native Seminole Indians, Bahamian settlers as well as the early European residents of Coconut Grove. Images of the first pioneering families such as the Peacocks, Frows, Carneys and Sanders are featured in these early traces of Florida history. The Munroe family homestead, the Barnacle, now an historic state park, is extensively featured in boxes 1 and 2. Finally, the photographs also depict the many yachts designed by  Ralph Munroe, the founder of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. (Arranged according to Mr. Munroe's groupings and titles).
Box 1: Barnacle and GroundsAdd to your cart.
Box 2: Barnacle and SurroundingsAdd to your cart.
Box 3: Views of Bimini, Cat Key and Key WestAdd to your cart.
Box 4: Miami, Arch Creek, New River, Snapper Creek and Royal Palm ParkAdd to your cart.
Box 5: Wabun Bound South and Other Views along the routeAdd to your cart.
Box 6: Views among the KeysAdd to your cart.
Box 7: Intimate BoatsAdd to your cart.
Box 8: BoatsAdd to your cart.
Box 9: Views in Brown's ShipyardAdd to your cart.
Box 10: N.Y.Y.C. and Other BoatsAdd to your cart.
Box 11: WrecksAdd to your cart.
Box 12: LighthousesAdd to your cart.
Box 13: Groups West PointAdd to your cart.
Box 14: PortraitsAdd to your cart.
Box 15: Breezy Knoll and Other Views of Staten IslandAdd to your cart.
Box 16: Views of Old New York and Others around Newark, NJAdd to your cart.
Box 17: Seminole IndiansAdd to your cart.
Box 18: Photographs (various)Add to your cart.
Box 19: Photographs (various)Add to your cart.
Box 20: Photographs (duplicates)Add to your cart.
Box 21: Photographs (various)Add to your cart.
Note: Panoramic views of Bimini in the Bahamas are in Folder 2.
Box 22: Photographs (various)Add to your cart.
Box 23: Album: "Views at Miami and Vicinity, Biscayne Bay, Dade County, South Eastern Florida"Add to your cart.
Box 24: Album: "The Second Invasion of Florida", February 1908Add to your cart.
Box 25: Album, 1914Add to your cart.
Box 26: Oversized Photo AlbumAdd to your cart.
Box 27: Oversized Photo Album: "Views at Miami and Vicinity, Biscayne Bay, Dade County, South Eastern Florida, Winter 1884-1885Add to your cart.
Box 28: Glass Plate NegativesAdd to your cart.
Series 2: Munroe and Wirth Family Correspondence, 1873-1973Add to your cart.
In 1894, Ralph Munroe met his second wife Miss Jessie Wirth during a sailing trip with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Benton (Jessie Wirth was Mrs. Benton's younger sister).  Ralph Munroe and Jessie Wirth were married in July 1895.  The couple had two children, Patty born in 1900 and Wirth in 1902. Series II documents the correspondence of the Munroe and Wirth Families (Arranged Chronologically).
Box 29: Munroe Family : Correspondence, 1873-1926Add to your cart.
Box 30: Munroe Family : Correspondence, 1927-1990Add to your cart.
Box 31: Munroe Family : Financial Records, 1910-1938Add to your cart.
Box 32: Wirth Munroe : Correspondence & Financial Records, 1842-1973Add to your cart.
Box 33: Wirth Family :  Correspondence, 1852-1919Add to your cart.
Box 34: Wirth Family : Correspondence, 1864-1916Add to your cart.
Series 3: Diaries, Calendars and Logs, 1841-1909Add to your cart.
The diaries, calendars and logs record the individual perspectives of members of the Munroe family during their travels and as they settle in the local Staten Island and Coconut Grove communities. For instance, Ellen Middleton and Thomas Munroe (Ralph M. Munroe's parents) were married on July 4, 1839 in London. According to Ralph M. Munroe, his mother's diaries describe the travels and adventures of the couple between America and London during his father's various business activities. The series also includes the diaries of Jessie Wirth Munroe, the Commodores' second wife as well as the notebooks of Mary Poore Munroe (married to Wirth Munroe, Jessie and Ralph Munroe's son).
Box 35: Diaries of Ellen Munroe, 1841-1879Add to your cart.
Box 36: Diaries of Ellen Munroe, 1880-1888Add to your cart.
Box 37: Diaries of Mary Munroe, 1856-1889Add to your cart.
Note : Some diaries may have been authored by Jessie Wirth Munroe.
Box 38: Diaries of Mary Munroe, 1890-1908Add to your cart.
Note : Some diaries may have been authored by Jessie Wirth Munroe.
Box 39: Diaries of Uncle Alfred Munroe and Wirth Munroe, 1856-1917Add to your cart.
Box 40: Diaries and Log Book of Jessie Wirth, 1894, 1901, 1909Add to your cart.
Box 41: Log Book of Alfred Munroe, 1875Add to your cart.
Note : also includes the Diary of Louis Benton ; his wife Susie Wirth was the sister of Jessie Wirth Munroe who married Ralph Munroe.
Box 42: Calendars of Mary Poore Munroe, 1962-1972Add to your cart.
Box 43: Mary Poore Munroe : Notebooks, 1910, 1926-1949, 1983, 1990-1995Add to your cart.
Series 4: Camp BiscayneAdd to your cart.
The Bay View House, later known as the Peacock Inn, was the earliest hotel in the Bay area as of 1882. The inn was owned by English settlers, Charles and Isabella Peacock who maitained it until 1902.  Ralph Munroe was a frequent  winter visitor and friend of the family. The Peacock Inn became a gathering place for a faithfull group of Nothern visitors.  The Commodore opened Camp Biscayne after the inn closed (due to Mr. & Mrs. Peacocks ill health) to provide new accomodations for those who still wished to vacation to South Florida. The series includes photographs of the various cottages as well as the native plants and trees of  hammocks. The promotional materials include flyers and brochures describing the Biscayne Bay area, the favorable climate and the its suitability for boating and fishing.
Box 44: Camp Biscayne : Photographs and Correspondence, 1898, 1901-1934Add to your cart.
Box 45: Camp Biscayne : Promotional MaterialsAdd to your cart.
Box 46: Camp Biscayne : Financial Records, 1912-1926, 1969Add to your cart.
Box 47: Camp Biscayne : Financial Records, 1909, 1914, 1918, 1922Add to your cart.
Series 5: WorksAdd to your cart.
Series 5 includes typescripts of  Ralph Munroe's memoir, The Commodore's Story, which he co-authored with his friend Vincent Gilpin.  The book was published in 1930.
Box 48: "The Commodore's Story", Part I (Typescript)Add to your cart.
Box 49: "The Commodore's Story", Part II (Typescript)Add to your cart.
Box 50: Various WorksAdd to your cart.
Series 6: Clippings and ScrapbookAdd to your cart.
Box 51: The Barnacle (oversize), 1963-1991Add to your cart.
Box 52: Coconut Grove (oversize), 1917, 1960-1966, 1971, 1987-1989, 1994Add to your cart.
Box 53: Islandia, Miami growth and construction (oversize), 1920, 1925, 1928, 1944, 1953, 1957-1959, 1960-1967Add to your cart.
Box 54: Islandia, Miami growth and construction, 1934, 1939, 1956, 1958-1967Add to your cart.
Box 55: Islandia, Miami growth and construction (scrapbook), 1957-1963, 1966,1969Add to your cart.
Box 56: Local newspaper clippings (oversize), 1896, 1911, 1918, 1923, 1926Add to your cart.
Box 57: Local newspaper clippings (oversize), 1952, 1960, 1964, 1966-1967Add to your cart.
Box 58: Miami newspaper clippings (oversize), 1909, 1925-1926, 1933Add to your cart.
Box 59: National newspaper clippings (oversize), 1896-1898, 1908-1909, 1911, 1915, 1920, 1924, 1933, 1990Add to your cart.
Box 60: Munroe family clippings (oversize), 1909, 1911, 1917, 1961Add to your cart.
Box 61: Seminole Indians (oversize), 1934Add to your cart.
Box 62: PhotocopiesAdd to your cart.
Copies of articles about the Barnacle, Coconut Grove, Islandia, the Munroe Family and Miami history.
Series 7: Topical FilesAdd to your cart.
Box 63: Barnacle : Financial Records, 1940-1953, 1959-1967Add to your cart.
Box 64: Biscayne Bay, 1896-1926Add to your cart.
Note : includes documents on the first 30 years of Miami and a typescript "Objections to the Helm Plan for islands off Coconut Grove by owners of adjacent lands and other citizens interested."
Box 65: Biscayne Bay, 1926-1969Add to your cart.
Note : includes documents relating the the Florida-Patsand Corp. plan for an Ocean Scenic Parkway across lower Biscayne Bay and counter arguments by the Marine Council of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.
Box 66: Biscayne Bay : MapsAdd to your cart.
Note : includes maps by the Biscayne Bay Conservation Association, Inc. opposing construction of "islands or solid fill...in the Safety Valve between Cape Florida (Key Biscayne) and the Keys."
Box 67: Coconut Grove, 1913-1988Add to your cart.
Folder 2 contains the Coconut Grove Negro District map.
Box 68: Coconut Grove Audubon Society : Minutes, 1917-1923Add to your cart.
Box 69: Dinner Key, 1939-1951Add to your cart.
Box 70: Florida Keys and Islandia, 1925-1992Add to your cart.
Box 71: Pansy Periodicals, 1890Add to your cart.
Note: fragile
Box 72: Topical File (various), 1869-1988Add to your cart.
Series 8: Maps & Plans, 1861-1954Add to your cart.
Case 5Add to your cart.
Drawer 7: Munroe Family Papers : Maps, 1861-1954Add to your cart.
Note : includes maps of Albany (New York), Biscayne Bay, Cape Cod,  Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, City of Miami, Dade County, Dinner Key, Green Island/West Troy, and Islandia.