Maritime College, Sailors’ Snug Harbor Inmate Records

Sailors’ Snug Harbor was the first maritime home and hospital for retired sailors in the United States. Founded in 1801 and located in Staten Island, the institution was given its name by its benefactor, Captain Robert Richard Randall, in his will. In Randall’s words, the Harbor was established “for the purpose of maintaining and supporting aged, decrepit and worn-out sailors.” Residents (called “inmates” in the parlance of the day) were admitted to the home regardless of nationality, race, religion, or rank, resulting in a unique ethnically diverse community. The Sailors’ Snug Harbor Inmate Records collection consists of approximately 1500 photographic portraits and 1500 register pages (circa 1870s-1920s) documenting the lives of residents before and during their stay at the institution. Data in the register books includes inmates’ nationality, religion, total years spent at sea, types of ships served on, reason for admittance to the harbor, and causes and dates of death. Inmate infractions (called “taboos”) and punishments are also documented, providing evidence of the harbor’s strict behavioral code. The photographic portraits, consisting of albumen prints mounted on cardboard, complement the texts, bringing these “worn-out” sailors to life. To learn more about the Sailors’ Snug Harbor Archives visit

About the Stephen B. Luce Library:

The Stephen B. Luce Library of SUNY Maritime College has a longstanding commitment to storing and preserving America’s maritime heritage. As the first maritime school in the country, founded in 1874, the college’s institutional records document the development of nautical education in the United States. Additionally, the library is home to the records and papers of over fifty maritime organizations, professionals, and college alumni. To explore our archives and special collections visit