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Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Photographs and Albums

Munroe and Wirth Family Correspondence

Diaries, Calendars and Logs

Camp Biscayne


Clippings and Scrapbook

Topical Files

Maps & Plans

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Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers, 1882-1995 | University of Miami Special Collections

By Beatrice Colastin Skokan

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Collection Overview

Title: Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers, 1882-1995Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: ASM0015

Creator: Ralph Middleton Munroe and family

Extent: 79.0 Boxes. More info below.

Formats/Genres: Account books, Brochures, Clippings, Diaries, Letters, Photograph albums, Photographs, Typescripts

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Barnacle (Miami, Fla.)
Biscayne Bay Yacht Club
Coconut Grove (Miami, Fla.) - History
Florida - History - 20th century
Miami-Dade County (Fla.) - History
Munroe, Ralph, 1851-1933
Munroe, Ralph, 1851-1933 - Family

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

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

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs and Albums],
[Series 2: Munroe and Wirth Family Correspondence, 1873-1973],
[Series 3: Diaries, Calendars and Logs, 1841-1909],
[Series 4: Camp Biscayne],
[Series 5: Works],
[Series 6: Clippings and Scrapbook],
[Series 7: Topical Files],
[Series 8: Maps & Plans, 1861-1954],
[[information restricted]],

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.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Photographs and Albums],
[Series 2: Munroe and Wirth Family Correspondence, 1873-1973],
[Series 3: Diaries, Calendars and Logs, 1841-1909],
[Series 4: Camp Biscayne],
[Series 5: Works],
[Series 6: Clippings and Scrapbook],
[Series 7: Topical Files],
[Series 8: Maps & Plans, 1861-1954],
[[information restricted]],

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