On November 28, 1833, a group of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officers, including Captain Matthew Perry and Commodore Charles G. Ridgely, founded the United States Naval Lyceum at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Organized to "promote the diffusion of useful knowledge, to foster a spirit of harmony and a community of interest in the service, and to cement the links which unite us [Navy and Marine Corps officers] as professional brethren," the Lyceum consisted of a library, a museum, and for a brief time boasted its own journal, Naval Magazine. Additionally, members of the Naval Lyceum were among the leading voices in favor of the establishment of a formal naval academy.
Fifty-five years after its founding, the United States Naval Lyceum was disbanded. After ceasing operations, the Lyceum's collections were transferred to the United States Naval Academy where they became the core of the Naval Academy Museum's collection.
Measuring 15" x 18" this United States Naval Officers Membership diploma of the United States Naval Lyceum is issued by the Navy Yard, New York and dated December 29, 1836. It contains the signatures of:
Charles Goodwin Ridgely (1794-1848,) President: Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ridgely served with Edward Preble during the First Barbary War. He was promoted to captain and placed in command of Erie. He commanded the Brazil Station and saw campaigns against the West Indian Pirates.
Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858,) 1st Vice President: The brother of Oliver H. Perry and serving as Commodore of the U.S. Navy, Perry commanded a number of ships. He served in the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. Perry aided in setting the first course of instruction at Annapolis and organized the naval engineer corps. With the advent of the steam engine, he was a leading advocate in the modernization of the US Navy and was dubbed "The Father of the Steam Navy."
Tunis Cravin (1813-1864,) 2nd Vice President: Cravin served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. He was an officer in the US Navy and a leading surveyor and hydrographer of the navy. During the Civil War he commanded the ironclad Tecumseh, 1863-1864, and went down with her in Mobile Bay.