Pollack, Lydia

Pollack collection of ocean liner ephemera, 1935–1967.
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet).

The Pollack collection of ocean liner ephemera (1935-1967) consists of menus, brochures, postcards, souvenir programs, deck plans, ship passenger lists, ocean liner newspapers, newspaper clippings, and luggage stamps from numerous ocean liners. The collection documents the many travels of Robert L. and Lydia A. Pollack on ocean liners including the French Lines, the Cunard Line, and the United States Lines.

About Lydia Pollack

Robert L. and Lydia A. Pollack traveled extensively on ocean liners during the 1940s through the 1960s. Robert L. Pollack met Lydia Aureli at the original International House which was located at 3905 Spruce Street while she was a student majoring in art and interior design at the Museum College of Art and he was majoring in chemistry at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. After marrying, they were the parents of Janine and Linda Pollack.

The Pollacks traveled mainly on the French Lines, the Cunard Line, and the United States Lines. Some of the ships on which they sailed were the S.S. Flandre, the S.S. France, the S.S. Ile de France, the RMS Queen Elizabeth, the M.V. Georgic, the RMS Caronia, the John Ericcson, the S.S. United States, and the S.S. America.

The Cunard Line was established in 1839 by Samuel Cunard as the British and North American Steam Packet Company to carry the Royal Mail to Canada and the United States. Famous ships of the early Cunard Line include the Lusitania, the Mauretania, and the Carpathia, which recovered survivors from the Titanic. In 1922, the first ever World Cruise ship Laconia was launched, and in the 1930s, the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth and the Mauretania (2) were launched. By the 1950s, the Cunard line carried “one third of all passengers crossing the Atlantic,” (Cunard Line). The Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched and made her maiden voyage during the 1960s. In 1971, the Cunard Steamship Company was taken over by Trafalger House PLC which was acquired by Kvaerner/ASA in 1996. In 1998, Cunard was purchased from Kvaerner by a Carnival Corporation consortium and is currently a member of World’s Leading Cruise Lines.

The French Lines included the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, which was incorporated in 1855 as the Compagnie Générale Maritime by brothers Emile and Isaac Pereire. In 1861, the name was changed to Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and the location was established at Penhoët, near Saint-Nazaire in France. From 1897 to 1904, facing strong European competition the Companie Générale Transatlantique struggled to stay in business, and changed its focus from speed to quality of service. During World War I, the Line participated in the war effort by the “transformation of vessels into warships, hospital vessels and troopships,” (French Lines) and lost approximately one third of its fleet. World War II again brought about a change in operation and more than a third of the Line’s staff was drafted and the fleet was either chartered or requisitioned. The liner Flanders, at sea from 1952 to 1968, was intended for the West Indies Line, but was instead assigned to the New York Line. The liner France was active from 1962 to 1977, when the Compangie Générale Transatlantique and the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes merged into a new company named Compagnie Générale Maritime.

The United States Lines was established after the United States Mail Steamship Company was taken over by the United States Shipping Board due to heavy losses in profits. In August 1932, the United States Lines built the Manhattan, its first ship that was designed to be a passenger ship. In 1933, the Washington was also launched. During World War II, the majority of ships were Army transport vessels or were sailed for the Navy. The S.S. United States, in 1952, was the “largest and fastest liner ever built in the United States,” (Maritime Matters). By 1969, the transatlantic cruise line demand had lessened as a result of air travel and the S.S. United States was withdrawn from service.


Cunard Line. http://www.cunard.com/images/Content/History.pdf

French Lines. http://www.frenchlines.com/histoire/histoire_cgt_dates_en.php

Maritime Matters. “United States Lines.” http://www.maritimematters.com/united-states- lines.html (accessed May 17, 2010).

About the collection

The Pollack collection of ocean liner ephemera (1935-1967) consists largely of menus, but the collection also contains a variety of brochures, postcards, souvenir programs, deck plans, ship passenger lists, ocean liner newspapers, newspaper clippings, and luggage stamps from numerous ocean liners. The Pollack collection documents ocean liners within the United States Lines, the French Lines, and the Cunard Line. These ships include SS Ile de France, SS Brazil, MS John Ericcson (later known as Kungsholm), SS Washington, MV Georgic, RMS Queen Elizabeth, RMS Caronia, SS Flandre, SS United States, SS France, and SS America. Materials in the collection range from 1935 to 1967, but every year in that span is not represented. The bulk of the material is from 1954, 1963, and 1967.

The collections menus are ornately decorated with either a site attraction for the destination of the ocean liner or artwork. The postcards document ships’ features, especially cabins, bars, dining halls, pools, and other amenities. The ocean liners’ newspapers are publications by SS Brazil and the Cunard Line that give synopsis of world news events for passengers.

Researchers interested in the culture of ocean liner travel and the many interesting features of ocean liners from this period will find this collection to be of value. The collection also provides insight into the typical experience of passengers traveling in this fashion via menus and programs of activities. The collection also provides information on specific ocean liners, which, after the wars, were luxuriously refitted for this type of travel and recreation. This collection complements additional ocean liner materials held by the Independence Seaport Museum, including the Park collection of Ocean Liner Ephemera.

  • America (Ship)
  • Compagnie générale transatlantique
  • Cunard Line, ltd.
  • France (Ship)
  • Ile de France (Steamship)
  • Queen Elizabeth (Ship)
  • United States (Ship)
  • United States Lines Company
  • Ocean liners
  • Travel
Types of material
  • Brochures
  • Clippings
  • Deck plans
  • Menus
  • Postcards
  • Ships’ passenger lists
  • Souvenir programs
Related collections
  • Park collection is listed as related in finding aid — should we add that here (in which case should we also add other ocean liner collections?) or let themes do the work of connecting these?
Reference files
  • Passenger Ships
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