ISMA Banner Image - v2

International Ship Masters Association

The International Ship Masters’ Association (ISMA) was established through the efforts of professional ship captains to cope with the difficulties encountered by families who had to deal with the deaths of members of their trade. It began after the death of the first mate for the freighter Boston in the winter of 1886 in Buffalo, New York. Boston Captain, John H. Ivors, collected money for the man’s devastated widow, which sparked a chain of ship masters contributing money and eventually creating an organization to administer an endowment for their profession. The ISMA still functions today and is an influential power in discussions on Great Lakes shipping policies in the United States and Canada along with over 20 active lodges that continue to hold annual meetings to vote on issues raised by members. 

This flag was donated by Captain H.W. Zerber, Secretary Lodge #4, Cleveland, Ohio, International Ship Masters’ Association. Moreover, the flag shown here represents the Grand President of the ISMA and is an eight-and-a-quarter-foot-long rectangular blue flag with two white stars and white text of “Grand President” and “ISMA.” A new Grand President is elected each year, and part of the ceremony involves the old Grand President presenting the Grand President flag to the next Grand President. The Grand President is a highly respected individual who has shown great commitment to the association and its values of educating members on issues concerning mariners. 

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