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Peter Stanford (1927 – 2016)

President Emeritus of the National Maritime Historical Society

January 16, 1927 – March 24, 2016
The trustees and staff of the National Maritime Historical Society mourn the loss of Peter Stanford, President Emeritus, founder, longtime friend and generous benefactor.   We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Norma, and to all the members of the Stanford family.  We are truly thankful for his extraordinary contributions to preserve the maritime heritage of the United States.  Peter Stanford is national treasure – and will be greatly missed.
Fair winds, Peter.

Peter Stanford was the founding president of South Street Seaport Museum in New York and the second president of the National Maritime Historical Society, after founding president Alan Hutchison. Under his leadership, the Society began publishing the distinguished quarterly magazine Sea History. Other NMHS publications included such works as the International Register of Historic Ships, The Peking Battles Cape Horn, and The Skipper and the Eagle.

National institutions founded by Peter Stanford under the National Maritime Historical Society’s auspices include The Council of American Maritime Museums (1972), the American Society of Marine Artists (1977), the American Ship Trust (1978), the Hudson River Maritime Museum (1979), and the National Maritime Alliance (1987).

Peter Stanford’s critical work was seen in the leadership role he took in saving historic ships. Ships saved by these campaigns included the lightship Ambrose, the brigantine Black Pearl, the barque Elissa, the schooner Ernestina (now Ernestina-Morrissey), the Liberty ship John W. Brown, the fishing schooner Lettie G. Howard, the steam tug Mathilda, the four-masted barque Moshulu, the four-masted barque Peking, and the great sailing ship Wavertree.

Mr. Stanford co-founded and supervised both OpSail 1976 for the nation’s bicentennial and the Statue of Liberty Parade of Sail in 1986 and was active in several maritime organizations, including the Working Harbor Committee of New York.

A native of Brooklyn and a naval veteran of World War II, Mr. Stanford was the author of hundreds of magazine articles and a number of museum books. His last book was A Dream of Tall Ships—How New Yorkers came together to save the city’s sailing-ship waterfront (Sea History Press, 2013). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard in 1949 and a Masters degree from King’s College, Cambridge, England, in 1951. He was also the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the State University of New York Maritime College at Fort Schuyler.