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SS Statendam West Indies Photograph Album

Identifier: MSS 0538

Scope and Content

New York: Holland America Line, 1937. 13 1/4" x 11" album in blue-ribbed cloth binder. Title in gilt on front cover along with brass screw posts at gutter margin, [48] leaves with 9 printed captions for various stops, and 32 large sepia-tinted silver gelatin photographs, sized 8" x 10", tipped-in and with nearly all photos with identifying text and negative numbers at lower fore-edge within the negative. This album was a promotional souvenir album for the SS Statendam of the Holland America line with stops in Cuba, Virgin Islands, Martinique, Trinidad, Venezuela, Curaçao, Cartagena, Colombia, the Panama Canal and Jamaica. The album documents a 1937 cruise through the West Indies by the SS Statendam and includes well-composed photographs by Holland America Line photographer Robert Mathews,as well as printed chapter captions by his brother, Richard B. Mathews, that vividly detail the attractions of each stop. Opening with a shot of the SS Statendam with tenders carrying passengers, the following photographs include Morro Castle, the President's Palace, and La Playa Beach in Havana, with a view of a "Tropical Sunset". Other images include a young boy astride his donkey in the Virgin Islands; Mt. Pelé and the Market at St. Pierre in Martinique; an excellent photo of a woman carrying water and of a windmill in Barbados; an Indian family in Trinidad; the rugged landscape of Venezuela, including shots of La Guayra and Caracas; sailing ships and shopping in Curaçao; followed by images of Jamaica, the Panama Canal, Cartagena, and Colombia.


  • Creation: 1937



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

The SS Statendam was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, replacing the second SS Statendam sunk during World War I. She sailed regularly from 1929 until 1940 when she was called back to the Netherlands as World War II threatened, and sunk May 11, 1940 during the Nazi German invasion. Robert Mathews (1903-1972), was a longtime photographer for Holland America, and often worked with SS Statendam steadily from 1930-1939, appearing frequently in customs and border ledgers. His images graced many of their brochures, souvenir albums, and advertising literature. His older brother Richard Mathews (b. 1901) traveled extensively, and although based out of New York, appears to have primarily resided aboard ship. Their family originated in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but they lived frequently in both Buffalo, and New York. Their younger brother, John Mathews, was an editor for the Detroit Free Press in Michigan.


.25 Linear Feet (1 Box (1 Album))

Language of Materials



Holland-America Line 1937 promotional album of photographs of the West Indies taken by photographer Robert Smith Mathews with text written by his brother, Richard B. Mathews.


The album has been kept whole and is in its original order.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Other Finding Aids

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Lewis J. Buckingham, dba Buckingham Books-ACH, 2022.


A Guide to the SS Statendam West Indies Photograph Album
Finding aid created by Martha Kapelewski
March 2023
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America