The Salem Marine Society was founded in 1766 by a group of captains from Salem and Beverly. Its purpose was to provide assistance to the members of the Society if they became ill or met with other difficulties and to assist the widows of deceased members. In addition, the Society encouraged mapping of the coastline in order to improve local navigation. In the 1790s, the society sponsored the placement of buoys in Salem Harbor, and the construction of a beacon on Baker's Island, thus improving the safety of vessels in the harbor. The Salem Marine Society is still in existence today. Made up of the descendants of its seafaring founders, the society continues its charitable mission.
The certificate of membership was designed by Abijiah Northey, Jr. in 1797, and depicts scenes that would have been very familiar to Salem captains. Scroll down to learn more about the scenes on the certificate, and explore the photo gallery at the bottom of the page to see enlarged copies of the images.