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CATEGORY

Ira Dye Collection on Early Seafarers

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Born on December 8, 1918, Ira Dye grew up in Seattle, Washington. His connections to USS Constitution began in the spring of 1933, when his father took him to see the ship when it visited Seattle during the National Cruise (1931-1934).

Dye graduated from the University of Washington in 1940 with a degree in chemical engineering and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy. He served in the submarine force in the Pacific theater during World War II and was a submarine commander during the Korean War. Dye was particularly proud of successfully delivering one of Hitler’s technically advanced Type XXI U-Boats to the United States at the end of World War II. Information gleaned from that boat led directly to technological advances in U.S. submarines. Dye retired from the navy as a captain in 1967 and later taught civil engineering at the University of Virginia.

Following his retirement in 1984, Dye focused on maritime historical research related to the social and cultural history of American and British seafarers from 1790 to 1820. His research dramatically increased the understanding of early American seafarers, including African American seafarers, from this period, and his writings contributed greatly to scholarship in this area. In 2005, Dye donated the whole of his collection to the USS Constitution Museum.

The Ira Dye Collection is an extremely rare and meaningful assemblage of materials from this period, and is particularly strong in three topics: 1)The social history of American seafarers of the period 1796 to 1818, with heavy emphasis on 1812 to 1815; 2) The operational history of the War of 1812; 3) British naval history covering the period 1793 to 1815, i.e. naval history of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

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