Fan of Full Fathom Five? Be sure to check it out at its new home!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

England Again

Greenwich University and the National Maritime museum have been granted nearly £200,000 by the Leverhulme Trust for a three-year programme of research into a mass of unseen documents. The subject of the research is to be how the Royal Navy provided 140,000 men each year with hundreds of tonnes of meat, wheat, biscuits, flour, fruit, beer, rum and spirits - in far-flung locations during the Napoleonic wars.

Roger Knight, professor of naval history from the university's Greenwich Maritime Institute and author of this year's biography of The Pursuit of Victory: The Life And Achievement of Horatio Nelson, said: "The mass feeding of men was an unqualified success for the Royal Navy, one of the reasons it triumphed over the navies of France and Spain."

Guardian News Story

Perennially interesting / but seldom covered

About three or four times a year researchers arrive at the library looking for information on the intimiate details of life in the 19th century forecastle. It's something not many of the journals recorded and aside from one log that alludes to various activities - in a secret code - we've little primary sources on the subject.

Such does not appear to be the case when dealing with the 20th century. In fact the Merseyside Maritime Museum will be recreating a gay seafarer's cabin in the museum's main gallery as part of a major exhibition next year called Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave. Exhibit curator, Dr Jo Stanley, of Lancaster University, is also co-wrote of the book, Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea upon which the exhibit is based.

Unlike gay life on land which was illegal, going beyond state boarders opened up possiblities for new lifestyles and personal expression. One of the truly unique aspects of life at sea.

Check out the Daily Post article for more information.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Deja Vu

This morning's Op Ed piece in the Boston Globe reminds me of so many pieces from the Mystic Seaport archives and from conversations among collegues. Henry A. Lachance, marine artist, freelance writer, and a founding member of the Boston Maritime History Committee and the Medford Maritime Heritage Society, writes lamenting the fact that Boston, with its all its rich maritime heritiage, does not have a maritime museum.

A Maritime Museum for Boston

The really funny thing (and here I mean, funny strange, as opposed to funny ha-ha) is that there are many maritime heritage sites within 100 miles of Boston. Why is there the need for 1 (One) central site? In fact, the more I keep this blog, and the more maritime heritiage news I run across, the more I realize, there are an awful lot of maritime heritage sites. Why are we all spending so much time bemoaning the fact that maritime history is being ignored/forgotten? Something just isn't fitting here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Least we forget

Past presidents have also made very poor choices. On this day in 1807 the US Embargo Act took effect, banning trade with Britain, France and the rest of the world. Merchants, sea captains, and sailors were naturally dismayed to find themselves without income and to see the ships rotting at the wharves.

(Sorry - lots has been going on in the maritime world, but things have also been busy in the pre-Christmas world of yours truly - will post more soon.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bermuda Maritime Museum

The BDASun, the online version of the Bermuda Sun, reports that the Parsonage Building of the Bermuda Maritime Museum is rotting away in the midst a bureaucratic red tape.

Bermuda Maritime Museum represents itself as Bermuda's:

largest and most-visited attraction and custodian of Bermuda’s fascinating maritime traditions. Set in six acres at the Royal Naval Dockyard, it includes eight historic exhibit buildings.

As such - the BDASun story is particularly disturbing.

Massachusetts Maritime Update

News continues to come from Massachusetts Maritime Academy. On Thursday, December 16th the Massachusetts Higher Board of Education reversed the firing of the president. On Friday John Linnon, a retired Coast Guard Admiral who was appointed to the MMA board in 1999, resigned from the Board of Trustees. Citing the poor handling of the entire affair, Linnon is leaving just as the Board of Higher Education is investigating whether or not the Trustees violated open meeting, and other laws during the firing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Getting the collections out

MBNA, the world's largest independent credit card issuer and the leader in the affinity marketplace, and also a supporter of the communities in which it operates has granted the Atlantic Challenge library $6000 to help catalog their maritime library and make the collection available through the catalog of the Rockland Public Library.

Atlantic Challenge, located in Rockland, Maine, has been offering various programs to students for more than thirty years, using boatbuilding and seamanship as tools that allow youth and adults to explore themselves and their maritime history.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Look familiar?

If you're watching this year's Orange Bowl and a FedEx Commercial pops up with a familiar location you might be recognizing Mystic Seaport. This week the Museum stood in for a "Maine Location" in the FedEx commercial. The commercial features (Stonington, CT) lobstermen sorting a large catch and realizing, upon spotting a FedEx truck, that they could grow their business by having FedEx ship their lobsters.

This will also not be the first time Stonington Lobster boats appeared North of the Mystic River Bridge in a big screen production. For five free lobsters who can name that film?

Nanhai No 1

On December 28th the Chinese government will begin salvage of the 25 to 30 meter, 800 to 1000 year old (sources vary) merchant ship. The ship, dubbed the Nanhai No. 1 (South China Sea No. 1) is the first ancient vessel discovered on what is called the Marine Silk Road.

The salvage operation will also be a first. A large steel basket has been constructed inorder that the vessel together with the surrounding silt will be lifted intact from the ocean floor and placed in the Nanhai No 1 Museum. The Chinese government has set aside 150 million yuan (about 18.5 million US dollars) to house the vessel and the approximately 50,000 to 70,000 relics that are expected to be onboard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More news from Maine Maritime

A few weeks ago I was delighted to post on the happenings at Maine Maritime, today I sadly report that one of the forces behind all those happenings is leaving the Museum. Tom Wilcox, executive director of Maine Maritime Museum, will step down within six months to pursue other opportunities.

The Mid-Coast Times Record carries the full story.

National Sailing Hall of Fame

Next week officials are expected to announce the new location for the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Of the final three contenders, Annapolis, Maryland; Newport, R.I.; and San Diego, California, Annapolis appears the most excited, and the most assured of hosting the Hall.

While it is not entirely clear, it appears the Museum will most likely feature video, memorabilia and archives relating to yacht racing.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Between sex scandals and president firings, news items about the Massachusetts Maritime Academy have been coming into my mailbox pretty regularly for the last few weeks. Like most stories I debate momentarily on whether or not they would make good blog material, and in general I've passed on this kind of story. However, due to the increasing volume and controversy involved in this I think it is something that people in the maritime world should at least be aware of. The following is a link to an blog article by Massachusetts resident Greg O'Brien who has been following the story.

Righting The Ship At Massachusetts Maritime Academy: Damn The Politics! Full Speed Ahead!

The comments following the article are very interesting as well.

Also - Statements from the Board of Trustees

Pepsi Americas' Sail 2006

From June 30th - July 5, 2006, Beaufort, North Carolina in collaboration with the North Carolina Maritime Museum will host a gathering of tall ships.

Pepsi Americas' Sail 2006 website

Olde Beaufort Seaport

According to reports in Myrtle Beach Online the North Carolina Maritime Museum will being developing a maritime village known as Olde Beaufort Seaport. The village will include a wharf; welcome center; boardwalk and outdoor performance pavilion; a shipyard with marine railway, foundry and sawmill; and halls with exhibits such as a Shipwreck Hall featuring artifacts from Queen Anne's Revenge.

Construction of the Seaport was marked by the arrival of the Meka II, a
half-scale replica of a 17th century pirate brigantine, commanded by Capt. Horatio Sinbad. Captain Sinbad holds what may be the only active privateer commission in the United States. I'll have to check on that one.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Seattle is a maritime city"

Feliks Banel, the deputy director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry recently made what would appear to be a self evident statement: "Seattle is a maritime city. We could use the city's maritime heritage as a lens to see the greater Seattle story." A newly released report however, shows that this may actually be a new thought to some. The Seattle/Kings County Task Force on Maritime Heritage identifies the numerous underdeveloped and at risk maritime resources and outlines a plan for reorganizing and promoting the city's cultural attractions and its integration with the sea.

Full story

Task Force Home Page

Personal comment: I visited Seattle in July of 2004 and came away with three strong impressions.
1. This city had more coffee shops per square inch than anywhere in the world (and that's a good thing)

2. Mt. Rainer is amazing!

3. Everywhere you go - there is water and there are boats.

Monday, December 05, 2005

NARA transfers submarine blueprints to Wisconsin Maritime Museum

The drawings for 28 World War II fleet submarines designed by Electric Boat in Groton, CT and built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin are now back in Manitowoc after years at the National Archives. Keith Kerr, an archives specialist for the Archives estimates the collection, which weighs more than 1,200 pounds, consists of nearly 3,000 items.

Bill Thiesen, curator at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, envisions using a small percentage of the drawings for an exhibition. Pending processing which depends upon grants, the plans would be used for research, information, and preservation. A library archive housing the drawings will be off-limits, but the public can view prints if they've identified which ones they want to see.

Please refer to the full story at the

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Maritime Domain Awareness

As part of the United States Coast Guard's MDA program, the America's Waterway Watch is a program similar to Neighborhood Watch, in which people who live, work, or play in our maritime domain keep a look out for the unusual.

When something just doesn't look right to the average boater they are encouraged to call the Coast Guard or local law enforcement. Call the National Response Center at 800-424-8802 or 877-24WATCH. If there is immediate danger to life or property, call 9-1-1, or call the Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16.

The Coast Guard lists the following actions as suspicious:

People appearing to be engaged in surveillance of any kind (taking notes, shooting video or photos, making sketches, or asking questions).
Unattended vessels or vehicles in unusual locations.
Lights flashing between boats.
Unusual diving activity.
Unusual number of people on board.
Unusual night operations.
Recovering or tossing items into/onto the waterway or shoreline.
Operating in or passing through an area that does not typically have such activity.
Fishing/hunting in locations not typically used for those activities.
Missing fencing or lighting near sensitive locations.
Anchoring in an area not typically used for anchorage.
Transfer of people or things between ships or between ship and shore outside of port.
Anyone operating in an aggressive manner.
Individuals establishing businesses or roadside food stands near sensitive locations.
Small planes flying over critical locations.
People attempting to buy or rent fishing or recreational vessels with cash for short-term, undefined use.

And remember - "You're in Command" (

What's at your museum?

Okay, I can't hold back on this one any longer. Peabody Essex, the holder of one of the richest maritime collections is presently promoting their newest exhibit with a great deal of fanfare. They've even taken out TV time to let everyone know they have a new exhibit on --- Tea Pots.

Meanwhile, South Street Seaport, the maritime museum located in one of the United States richest maritime ports is hosting an exhibit on, no sorry that is of, body parts. "Bodies: The Exhibition" features the remains of 22 humans, with more than 260 organs and partial body parts on display.

A maritime exhibit anyone?

Please note non-maritime image of violets. Only 4 months to the start of spring.

Lessons from London

The National Maritime Museum in England won two gold awards at the prestigious Visit London Awards 2005 ceremony on 29 November.

As the winner of the Large Visitor Attraction category, the Museum was rated highly for its customer care, interaction with the local community, care for the environment, accessibility for disabled visitors, investment in staff training, and its marketing campaigns, which achieve an impressive number of repeat visitors.

The museum beat off stiff competition, with Tate Modern taking the silver award and Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms and Madame Tussauds London taking joint bronze. what are they doing that other maritime museums aren't?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

One up!

The South Carolina Martime Heritage Foundation has an absolute beauty in their shipyard. The Spirit of South Carolina is an updated pilot schooner based on an original Charleston vessel, and she is impressive. The website is impressive too, including links to details on design, construction, the shipyard, state of the ship and current photos.

At present the Spirit of South Carolina is being planked

Events at Maine Maritime

It's hard to get back into the blogging habit after a great Thanksgiving weekend luckily I was inspired by a news piece on Maine Maritime Museum's latest project. Not only are they building a full scale sculpture of the Wyoming, the largest wooden schooner ever built at the yard in Bath, but even more importantly they have a team of archaeologists documenting and preserving the remnants of the Percy and Small Shipyard.

Full story in the Kennebec Journal

Monday, November 28, 2005

Job Posting: Maritime Curator

The Los Angeles Maritime Museum, a facility of the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks, is seeking a full-time Maritime Museum Curator.

The Los Angeles Maritime Museum is located in San Pedro California, and is a community institution, focusing on the maritime history of the L.A. Harbor area. This position is not an academic curatorship, but rather a hands-on opportunity to work with the community to create new educational exhibits and encourage donations of relevant materials to the permanent collection. Under the supervision of the Museum Director, the Curator’s primary duties will be exhibit design and fabrication, new acquisitions, loans, collections management, programming, with occasional tours or public speaking as assigned. Other duties as needed as determined by the Museum Director.

The Museum’s collection includes ship models, photographs, textiles, works of art, nautical instruments and equipment, and an operating tugboat. The Museum is currently in the planning stages of a large-scale, permanent exhibit chronicling the local fishing and canning industries, and the Curator will play a key role in this project.

Master’s Degree in History or Museum Studies with two years full-time curatorial experience, successful track record of creating exhibits, excellent writing and public speaking skills, grant writing experience, and experience supervising volunteers and interns. Familiarity with PastPerfect software preferred. Knowledge of maritime artifacts and the ability to interact successfully with visitors of diverse ages and backgrounds is a must, as is the ability to work collaboratively with staff as well as independently, while keeping Museum Director advised as to progress.

Hours are Monday – Friday 8-5, one Sunday per month with compensatory time. Some weekend and/or special events may be required. Current driver’s license and ability to operate a City vehicle and lift heavy boxes is also required. Annual Salary is $43,764.00

Send resume, cover letter, and references to Curator Search, Los Angeles Maritime Museum, Berth 84 Foot of 6th Street, San Pedro CA 90731 or e-mail to, with “Curator” in subject line. Deadline for receipt of applications is Monday, December 12, 2005.

The City of Los Angeles is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Not like it used to be

Often people will call or write our library asking what it was like for their ancestors when they crossed the Atlantic. Our next question, of course, is "When exactly did they cross?, and as what type of passenger were they?" Crossing could vary from the harrowing experiences to leisurely cruises. What I am sure of is that they did not resemble the description of a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 that I recently read about. Canyon Ranch style spas, lecture series, planatarium, restuarants and night clubs seem to be the highlights of ocean travel these days.

Rates have changed over time as well. Rooms aboard the QM2 start at $1400.00.

Call me silly, even old fashioned but I'd prefer crossing in the style of Sebastian Clover, youngest sailor to make the transatlantic crossing. Or even those two guys who rowed across. Can't remember their names right now but someone will remind me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Job Posting: Youth Programs Coordinator

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland is seeking an outgoing applicant with great organizational skills. Current certification in life guarding, CPR, First Aid, Youth Camp, and US Sailing Instructor preferred. Assignments include development, implementation, evaluation and supervision of youth, school and sailing programs. Full-time position with excellent benefits. Send letter with resume, references and salary requirements to Human Resources, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, P. O. Box 636, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663 or e-mail Posted November 20th

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Book Notice: Sea Struck

Sea Struck is the 2004 winner of the NASOH Primary Source Materials award. The book, written by W. H. Bunting follows the accounts of voyages drawn from journals kept by three Massachusetts seamen on voyages to the Pacific in the 19th century.

Book includes the complete transcript of one the diaries, complimented by entries from the other two to provide a three dimensional, and interesting view of life at sea.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Job Posting: Consulting Archivist

The Noble Maritime Collection
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 447-6490 Fax: (718) 447-6056

Small, fast-growing Staten Island museum seeks a consulting archivist to oversee the arrangement of its collection of holdings in Sailors' Snug Harbor records for public access and use in the museum’s programs.
Master's degree with a specialization in archives preferred, knowledge of Windows, software, and general computer skills; familiarity with OCLC cataloguing system and use; excellent writing skills and experience in preparation of funding proposals. Interest in maritime art and history essential. 10-20 hours per month.

Send resume and salary requirements to Noble Maritime Collection, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301. No faxes or emails.

Thar she blows!

Have you always wanted to sing those words our from the masthead? Or maybe its the thrill of the Nantucket sleigh ride that calls?

Well now you can go a-whaling on ebay. Yup. A few months ago some marketing mogul thought up The Whale Trail, a public art exhibit of 50 beluga and sperm whale sculptures running in southeastern Connecticut, Westerly, Rhode Island, Newport, Rhode Island, Boston, Massachusetts, and New York, New York. The exhibit is now over and the whales are being auctioned off on ebay as "6ft sculptures perfect for fountains and gardens". Gosh I'd even bid on one if the opening bid was a bit lower than $1000.00 Proceeds will go to worthy charities.

So now is your chance - throw that harpoon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

CFP: Charting the Inland Seas: Recent Studies in Great Lakes Maritime Research

North American Society for Oceanic History & Canadian Nautical Research Society invite you to participate by presenting a paper at the conference. Please submit an abstract including name, affiliation, location, telephone, fax, and email address, title of the paper, and a brief description of it contents not to exceed 200 words. Submissions must be received no later than March 31st, 2006. (Conference is June 1-4, at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum)

Please send abstracts to:
Victor T. Mastone, Director
Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources
Coastal Zone Management
251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114-2136

Tel.: 617-626-1141
Fax: 617-626-1240

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Record Setting

In the 32-year history of the Whitbread / Volvo Ocean Race, no boat has ever exceeded 500 nautical miles in 24 hours whilst racing. Until Sunday that is, when a day and a half after race start, Sébastien Josse and the crew of ABN Amro Two put down an impressive new record of 504 miles, equating to an average speed of exactly 21 knots. The previous record was held by last race winners, illbruck, who set a distance of 480 miles on a fast passage across the Atlantic. ABN Amro Two's 500 miles is just a touch short of the all-out sailing record of 535 miles, set by Movistar earlier
this year during a delivery trip.

Full story from Scuttlebutt

Official Whitbread/Volvo Race site

Monday, November 14, 2005

Conference: International Congress of Maritime Museums

Last week Aukland, New Zealand hosted the 27th Triennial ICMM Conference. Taking part in this session were delegates from Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Jersey, France, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Argentina, Canada and the Bahamas. According to a story in The New Zealand Herald the Congress featured several excellent speakers on a wide variety of international subjects.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Closing and Restoration: San Francisco Maritime Museum

Beginning sometime next year the Streamline Moderne Building of the San Francisco Maritime Museum will be closed for repairs that are expected to last roughly 18 months.

It’s funny. I ran by this building once while I was late for a meeting at the Library and never noticed its unique design – which is more than obvious from the photo.

Full story in the San Francisco Examiner

This just in: It will cost $3.5 million to complete the renovations. Federal dollars will pay for the renovations beginning in June and finishing by the end of 2007.

Anniversary-Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

November 10 marks the 30th anniversary of the sinking of one of the most famous of the Great Lakes freighters. Measuring 729 feet, the Great Lakes Engineering Works launched the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1958 and she cruised the Lakes for 17 years.

As many in the maritime community are more than familiar with the story - take the quiz posted on Timothy Craig McCall's comprehensive S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald website. This website is an amazing collection of facts, related events, oral history transcripts with people involved in the sinking, the lyrics to Gordon Lightfoot's song, and just about any other thing that could by associated with the Fitzgerald.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Maritime Heritage Education Conference

The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Va will be the site of a conference bringing together educators and promoting the sharing of “maritime heritage related partnerships, programs and products”.

From November 18-10, 2005 sessions ranging from “Successful Strategies for Engaging Families” to “Boatbuilding in Key West: Past and Future” will be running in blocks of four concurrent sessions.

The Conference also includes a tour of the Mariners Museum, a “Spirit of Norfolk” Dinner Cruise and a keynote presentation by Dr. Robert Ballard.

For more information check out the conference website.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When Pirates Attack

Popular love of pirates collided with reality recently when modern day Somalians attacked a U.S cruise ship. Attacks the following day on a large bulk carrier and a roll-on roll-off cargo ship prompted the International Maritime Bureau to issue a warning and to advise all ships in the area to coordinate patrols.

Simultaneous with the IMB’s actions the British Maritime officers union, NUMAST, has called for a multinational naval task force to be established to protect ships in piracy-prone areas.

The IMB said the latest incidents brought the total number of attacks to 28 since mid-March after two years of relative calm.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Exhibit: Ships for Victory

The Digital Library of Georgia has just launched an online exhibit of photographs of the J.A. Jones Construction Company and Library Ships in Brunswick, Georgia.

From the site:

The online collection consists of eighty-four black-and-white photographs from the J.A. Jones Construction Company collection at the Brunswick-Glynn County Library that depict the company’s World War II cargo ship building activities in its Brunswick, Georgia shipyard from 1943 to 1945. The images document the life cycle of the Liberty and Knot ships built in Brunswick: from keel-laying and hull construction to christening and launch. Construction techniques are visible in many of the photographs, and several images feature the shipyard’s male and female laborers and management staff. In addition, the launch photographs feature ship sponsors and other dignitaries. Of particular note is a series of photographs depicting Christmas Day, 1944, when the shipyard workers volunteered to work through the holiday, donating their time-and-a-half pay as a Christmas gift to the nation.

CFP: International Log Boat Symposium

The Council of American Maritime Museums and The Museum Small Craft Association have issued a call for papers for the International Log Boat Symposium and invite all interested presenters to submit an abstract by February 17, 2006 to:

Paul Fontenoy
Curator of Maritime Research
North Carolina Maritime Museum
315 Front Street
Beaufort NC 28516

The Symposium will be held April 6-8 at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina.

For more information contact Paul Fontenoy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Research Fellowship- John Carter Brown Library

The deadline for submission of both Long-Term and Short-Term application materials is January 10, 2006.

THE JOHN CARTER BROWN LIBRARY will award approximately twenty-five Research Fellowships for the year June 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007. Sponsorship of research at the John Carter Brown Library is reserved exclusively for scholars whose work is centered on the colonial history of the Americas, North and South, including all aspects of the European, African, and Native American involvement.

For more information

To download an application

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Temporary Closing

The Operational Archives Branch of the Naval Historical Center will be closed to unofficial researchers from 1 November 2005 until 1 March 2006 to complete processing projects.

Phone: (202) 433-3224; Fax (202) 433-2833

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

2006 NASOH Meeting

Mark your calendars now for NASOH's Charting the Inland Seas: Recent Studies in Great Lakes Research to be held June 1-4, 2006 at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In addition to great presentations the meeting features tours of the Denis Sullivan, a 138' Great Lakes schooner, Rogers Street Fishing Village, and the Door County Maritime Museum. The event is hosted by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, recently named the Wisconsin state Maritime Museum.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Moby 360

Coming up this weekend on NPR's Studio 360 is a rebroadcast of the 2004 Peabody Award winning show on "Moby Dick". From an interview with Ray Bradbury, author of the Gregory Peck film adaptation to Laurie Anderson's opera, to Moby-Dude, a play about a teenager's summarization of the novel, 360's host Kurt Anderson discusses the many influences Melville's great white novel has had on American culture.

No need to wait for the broadcast however, you can catch it at Ishmael, Ahab, Moby.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War

Or...more on the common sailor. The University of North Carolina Press recently published Michael J. Bennett's study of Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War. Unlike Union solder's who joined the army for ideological reason, Bennett argues that sailors enlisted because of "practical circumstances formed within the realities of class ethnicity, and race."

Relying on diaries and letters, as well as statisical enlistment information this book provides an interesting picture of why and who formed the bulk of the Union Navy.
This book is also the winner of the 2004 John Lyman Award for U.S. Naval History as presented by the North American Society for Oceanic History

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fire and Water: The CIGNA Firefighting and Maritime Collection

Here's a new and interesting twist on museum exhibits; exhibit the processing of a collection. The National Museum of American History invites visitors to observe staff processing one of their newest collections which includes maritime and firefiring paintings such as the one above - "The Great Fire at Chicago, October 8th, 1871" by Currier and Ives.

Fire and Water

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Afternoon Break

A few posts ago detailed several events commomerating Trafalgar Day, one of the most noteable being Adnams special ale. The Adnams company not only makes a good beer, and a good website, they also have a rather fun game for us to play. Go to Win Adnams Prints - and good luck!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Job Posting - Education and Volunteer Assistant Santa Barbara, CA

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is seeking to hire a full-time Education and Volunteer Assistant. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum's mission is to educate the community and visitors about the unique maritime history of California's central coast through interactive and hands-on educational programs such as the Spirit of Dana Point Tall Ship Education Program. Over the past 8 years the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum has been privileged to offer such exciting programs as the Wyland Ocean Challenge, multiple Surf Film Series' highlighting new and classic surf films, an engaging lecture series and adult education program, the Tall Ship Education Program, the JASON Project, and much more. The Education and Volunteer Assistant works intimately with the Education Coordinator on all education projects and is highly involved in the planning and execution of all programs.

All interested applicants, please email Education Coordinator, Stephanie Griesmer, at or call (805) 962-8404 ext. 109

Le Griffon

Le Griffon is considered to have been the first actual ship on the Upper Great Lakes and the most recent to wind up in a court battle. The Great Lakes Exploration Group and the state of Michigan are arguing over ownership of a wreck believed to be that of Le Griffon. While the matter still remains undecided the parties have agreed to jointly begin exploration. Chicago Sun Times Article.

According to Wikipedia Le Griffon "The ship was launched in the Niagara River as a forty-five ton Barque with five guns. On its maiden voyage in 1679 it was sailed across Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. On its return trip it vanished with all six crew members and a load of furs"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Your history: Maritime History

The hundreds of thousands of common sailors who formed the backbone of early North American commerce are virtually invisible. Unless they were among the very few who left diaries and letters of their travels they have disappeared from the historical record for all except the very dedicated researcher willing to spend countless hours pouring over fading reels of microfilm containing the crew lists. While more and more museums, maritime or otherwise have exhibits focused on the experience of the common man, as opposed to the leading class, captains, etc. very few if any have identified all the participants by name.

Now however there are a few notable exceptions:

New London Crew List Database: 1803-1878

Young Men and the Sea: Salem Databases

Black Sailors Research Project

The research potential is enormous!

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Magic of Antarctic Colours

"For most people, thoughts of historical exploration in Antarctica typically center on dogs, skis, snowshoes, and people in fur, not paintbrushes or sketch pads." However it was common for explorers of polar regions to be accompanied by artists who would visually record those dogs, skis, snowshoes, people and polar sites for research and for popular distribution in books and articles. The "Magic of Antarctic Colours" exhibits the vibrantly painted works of David Abbey Paige, an artist who accompanied Byrd on his 1933 expedition.

The Gallery page of the exhibit provides a quick overview of the Magic. The full size images are just as intense, the pastels giving an etheral edge to each piece.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Better Way to Celebrate!

Flagship is the new beer from Adnams; brewers of real beer from the Suffolk coast. It has been specifically created to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar and to mark the great maritime tradition of the East Anglian Coast.

Adnams’ Flagship is named after Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship: HMS Victory. A further tribute to Britain’s naval victory can be seen in the new design for the Flagship logo, which uses the maritime colours of blue and gold. Look closer at the ‘Flags’ icon and you can see it cleverly replicates the first two words of Nelson’s famous signal, “England expects that everyman will do his duty”, which is flown in celebration every year from Victory’s masts.

Flagship beer is served as a draft beer and is a seaworthy 4.3% ABV! It is available nationally now until 11th November from all Adnams pubs and licensers.

press release

Even better than their beer however is Adnams website. It's very maritime with sound effects and images, but not the least bit hoakie

Monday, October 17, 2005

Maritime Chic

Fear not maritime enthusiasts, we are living the life the rich and famous aspire to, or at the very least, play at. New York's nautically themed Maritime Hotel promises to give guests the maritime experience without ever leaving land.

How? you ask.

According to Stephen Beaumont it's the ambience. "Entering the hotel lobby is akin to wading into a warm, welcoming sea, with intensely marine blue carpeting and soft lighting combining to produce a romantically nautical sensation." And then there are the rooms with "walls that curve rather than angle into the ceiling and large porthole windows that actually open."

For those of you planning a cruise to New York City - rooms run from $245-$295. Official Maritime Hotel Website.

Friday, October 14, 2005

PortCities UK

If you were drawn to the image of the sailors in port from the last post you might be interested to know that it came from a wonderful and rich website called PortCities UK

The site is divided into 5 sections, one each for the ports of Bristol, Hartlepool, Liverpool, London, and Southampton. Within the sections there are numerous essays and images addressing the issues that formed that particular port. As an example, the London section has an essay on "Prison hulks on the River Thames", "Trades, industries, and institutions", as well as many others. The site also includes a "Fun and Games" Section and an e-card option. Which I had lots of fun with.

Culture Shock

Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce's Bible to Thru Hikers of the Appalachian Trail concludes with a chapter on "Life After the Trail." Wingfoot offers congratulations to those who have completed over 2000 miles and endless days of hiking. He also offers a warning:

Some people have no reentry problem, but, for most, this transition involves a period of culture shock and stress, and perhaps a period of depression. The Thru-Hiker's Handbook.

If this is the effect of a six month, albeit strenuous, vacation, what then would be the reentry shock for some one who has been at sea for 2 to 4 years? Occasionally a Thru-Hiker will summit Katadhin, turn West and start hiking to Georgia. Is it any wonder that sailors spend a night or two in port and sign back on the next ship to leave port?

Trafalgar Day - 21 October 1805

It has been pointed out, or rather should I say, I have been warned, that it would show a great lack of judgment and maritime acumen if I were to let the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson's historic victory off the south-west coast of Spain pass without mention.

And indeed Trafalgar Day is a big one in the Maritime World. There are celebrations being held around the world. The Australian National Maritime Museum is holding a one-day seminar on Sunday, 23 October and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle will lay a wreath at the memorial to Admiral Lord Collingwood in the City's St. Nicholas Cathedral. (Collingwood took charge when Nelson was killed.)

The main event however, is the Trafalgar 200 celebration which includes Her Majesty is dining onboard HMS VICTORY, Wreaths being laid at Nelson's Tomb, The Royal Navy participating in a commemorative program organized by the Spanish Navy, and in Portsmouth the BBC Singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra will perform a concert.

The Royal Navy hosts a site detailing the Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson's career.

The Naval Historical Center has also electronically published "An Authentic Narrative of the Proceedings of His Majesty's Squadron, under the Command of Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson...." in celebration of the event.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Here's another....

This one is a little late making it to the Blog, but there is still plenty of time to apply.

Contact: Amy Harbur, 202-939-4753
Washington, D.C. – For the fifth year, the Council on Library and Information Resources is offering fellowships funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support dissertation research in the humanities in original sources.
Applications postmarked by November 15, 2005 (November 1, 2005, if mailed from outside the United States) will be considered for about 10 awards to be announced by April 1, 2006 for use beginning between June 1 and September 1, 2006.
The purposes of the program are to:
· help junior scholars in the humanities and related social-science fields gain skill and creativity in developing knowledge from original sources;
· enable dissertation writers to do research wherever relevant sources may be rather than just where financial support is available;
· encourage more extensive and innovative uses of original sources in libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and related repositories in the U.S. and abroad; and
· provide insight from the viewpoint of doctoral candidates into how scholarly resources can be developed for access most helpfully in the future.
Application information and forms are available under Awards at, or may be requested from CLIR by e-mail at, by telephone at 202-939-4750, or by regular mail at CLIR Mellon Fellowships/1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW/Suite 500/Washington, DC 20036.
The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good. Through publications, projects, and programs, CLIR works to maintain and improve access to information for generations to come. In partnership with other institutions, CLIR helps create services that expand the concept of "library" and supports the providers and preservers of information.
Amy J. Harbur
Program Associate
Council on Library and Information Resources
1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
202.939.4753 tel
202.939.4765 fax

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Young Men and the Sea

Command at Sea - and at Home

Guilt often overwhelms me when I look through the Naval History shelves of the Library. I must confess, I don’t know all that much about it. In a recent attempt to rectify the situation I picked up Michael A. Palmer’s (Professor of History, East Carolina University) Command at Sea: Naval Command and Control Since the Sixteenth Century.

The text follows naval history through the last 400 years focusing on the interplay of command and control and communication. Palmer argues that “decentralized approaches as exemplified by Nelson are on the whole superior to more centralized systems” and that technological advances in communication, which are used to centralize command, are therefore ineffective if not downright harmful.

According to Palmer, Nelson succeeded because he “chose to rely on the initiative of men who had, he hoped absorbed from him an overall philosophy of battle.” In other words, rather than commanding them every second, he gave them his general philosophy and then trusted his subordinates to take it from there. A very good lesson for all of us.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Déjà vu

The next few weeks will see the beginning of two historic ocean voyages. Both Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV, and a recreation of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki are set to sail in recreations of their original epic journeys.

Such obviously different vessels, they still share a common heritage. Both were captained by strong figures bent on making a statement about man and his relationship with the sea, and both, in accomplishing their voyages became legends in their own times. I can still picture the full color illustrated edition of “Kon-Tiki for Young People’ that sat on my childhood bookshelf right next to “Little Women.”

This time around the Gypsy Moth IV is sailing with alternating teams of young sailors, and the Kon-Tiki sails with a crew that includes Olav Heyerdahl, Thor Heyerdahl’s grandson.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

World Maritime Day

Without shipping, international trade in the raw materials, energy products and affordable manufactured goods and food that help sustain our civilisation would be virtually impossible and the world would grind to a halt - half of us would starve, the other half would freeze! Intertanko

Following quickly on the heals of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" (mentioned below) September 29, 2005, World Maritime Day is a day dedicated to modern maritime trade and celebrated by the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization and dedicated to International Shipping.

To help commemorate this day the Round Table of international shipping associations has published a Shipping Facts booklet, the Australians used it as both a political statement and a means to call attention to demands of the Seafarers Union, and of Belapur is providing a free supplimentary page for seafarers. (If you want a quick peak into today's maritime trade and work environment this is an interesting site. I surfed around it for about 15 minutes. In some ways the business is much different than those I know from working with 19th century papers, and in another way, it's very familiar.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Great Lakes Ship Sources

If you’re looking for information on Great Lakes Vessels be sure to look into the Milwaukee Public Library’s Great Lakes Ship Files. Containing data on more than 7,000 vessels the files “include ships that sailed in 1679 and some that are on the lakes today; some that are diesel-powered, some rigged with sails, and some barges; cargo vessels, passenger boats, military and even pleasure craft.”

I ran 5 quick searches on known vessels and found good qualify information on 4. Library holds addition files in their collection on these vessels. Interested researchers can then obtain copies by contacting the Library.

Another good resource is the United States Vessel Enrolments for the Great Lakes

Many thanks to Mario M. Einaudi, Catalog Librarian for the Kemble Collection of The Huntington Library for bring the Milwaukee Public Library’s site to our attention.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Encyclopedia of New England

Newly published! The Encyclopedia of New England is a new reference work dedicated to New England's history and culture. Published by Yale University Press and edited by Burt Feintuch and David H. Watters the Encyclopedia contains (according to the publisher:

• 1,300 alphabetically arranged entries examining significant people, places, events, ideas,and artifacts

• Fascinating and little-known facts that rarely appear in history books

• More than 500 illustrations and maps

• Contributions from nearly 1,000 distinguished scholars and writers, including journalists, academics, and specialists from museums, industries, and historical societies

• 1.5 million words in 22 thematic sections, ranging from agriculture to tourism, each with an introduction by a leading specialist in the field

American Philosophical Society Library Resident Research Fellowship

The Society is once again accepting research applications for scholars, PH.D candidates and holders of Ph.D's to do research in its collections, many of which hold significant maritime connections.

The stipend is $2,000 per month, and the term of the fellowship is a minimum of one month and a maximum of three, taken between June 1, 2006 and May 31, 2007. Applications are due no later than March 1. This is a receipt deadline. Applicants will be informed by mail whether all materials were received. For additional information call 215-440-3443 or send an email inquiry to Notification is sent in May.

More informatin and applications are available at:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sea Literature: Call for Papers

National Conference
Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel
Atlanta, GA

April 12-15, 2006

Proposals are especially encouraged on
Film, music & television
Historical sea documents
Seafaring & sea sagas

Presentations on all other aspects of the sea are welcome.


Please send title and 150-word abstract by November 1, 2005, to

Stephen Curley
Department of General Academics
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Galveston, TX 77553-1675


Monday, September 19, 2005

Walking the plank

Well, I've just been reminded that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, an important maritime date that I almost neglected to celebrate.

So avast ye hearties and away.

Hurricanes and the War of 1812

The wonderful folks at the Navy Department Library have recently posted transcripts of key Naval documents regarding previous hurricanes and New Orleans in 1812. It appears that two hurricances struck the area in the months of August and September destroying ships and taking out bridges but resulting in no loss of life. Government response, in light of the limited communication available in 1812, was relatively swift.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Don't get me wrong, I like pirates as much as the next person. I even did an earlier entry on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel but what I don't get is how almost every maritime heritage festival out there now has to have a pirate or "swashbuckler" connection.

Take for instance the recent Toshiba Tall Ships Festival in Dana, California. This annual festival commemorates California's rich maritime heritage in the town named after Richard Henry Dana by holding swordfights aboard a replica of the Pilgrim.(I must have missed that part of Two Years Before the Mast) Then too this year's Maritime Festival at Thunder Bay features a "Pirate Play Station." Greenport, Long Island's Maritime Festival offers pirates who "roam the streets in an interactive role-play". There is also the University of Connecticut's upcoming "Festival by the Sound" complete with "roving swashbucklers" and treasure maps!. Just up the coast at the Mystic Seaport Museum you can have your picture taken with a parrot after, of course, you've purchased your pirate hat.

Here at the Library we like to say we don't have much information or documentation from pirates, they didn't leave their logbooks, or treasure maps behind. We do have records from the much more mundane privateers, those covert government operators who stole the property of other countries for their own personal gain as well as the benefit of their own country. Perhaps maritime heritage should celebrate the privateer. With only a little spin they can be a hero and a freedom fighter, and they didn't wear funny hats.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hiking and the Sea

I've spent the last few days hiking in Vermont wondering at the beauty of the natural world, the clear mountain lakes, the enduring granite peaks, and the endless forests. Occasionally I'd think about this blog and wonder how in the heck I'd connect all this deep woods wonder with the maritime world. Today I wandered through the bookstore and found the answer.

Oak: The Frame of CivilizationI haven't read it yet but flipping through the pages it certainly appears to be well written and interesting. Hey - any book whose preface talks about building the American navy, well, it has to be maritime. Of course any boatbuilder will tell you of the key role oak has played in shipbuilding. Sure, the King marked the pine for his masts, but what did they use for the keel? the knees? and the trunnels.

In addition to outlining the oak's role in boat construction and trade as well as it's other uses, certified arborist and former New York Times columnist William Bryant Logan also gives the scientific history of this magnificent tree. Certainly another addition to the Christmas list.