The Commodore’s Story

Ralph M. Munroe

Commodore Ralph M. Munroe (1851-1933) was a man of many talents: yacht designer, sailor, accomplished photographer, entrepreneur and early conservationist. He was instrumental in the historic development of Coconut Grove and the larger Miami community. The Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers in the Special Collections Department at the University of Miami Libraries chronicle the daily life of South Florida in the 19th and 20th century as well as Mr. Munroe’s vision for this new frontier.

The collection includes a wide array of photographs, manuscripts, letters, diaries, financial records and clippings which give a fascinating glimpse into the early history of South Florida and the shaping of its first institutions. The exhibit highlights prominent figures in Coconut Grove, the diversity of the community, the birthing of local industries, interest in “new” tropical landscapes, and the economic and social life which developed around the sea through the “wrecking” and “fishing” industries as well as yacht club races and gatherings. The Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers are a significant resource for research and document the uniqueness of South Florida within the larger context of American history.

The exhibit is located on the 1st and 2nd floor of Otto G. Richter Library. The entire collection is located in the Special Collections Department (8th floor Richter) and available online at: Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers