University of Miami Libraries > UM Libraries Digital Collections > Special Collections Digital Collections > Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers

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The Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers digital collection contains over 1,200 items, including photographs of the Barnacle, a variety of boats, family, friends, and numerous South Florida scenes. Select correspondence and other documents are also available for viewing.

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 is the typescript of the popular autobiography, The Commodore's Story, as well as diaries written by Patty Munroe detailing South Florida "happenings." Photographs offer a look at South Florida scenic sites during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Visit the Ralph M. Munroe Family Papers finding aid to learn more and view a detailed description of the collection.

To see additional digitized materials about the Munroe family and life in early Coconut Grove, visit the Alan Crockwell digital collection and the Lillian Frow Peacock & Eunice Peacock Merrick digital collection.