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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nautical paper plates of yesteryear

"Paper plate ad, couple at dock," from George Eastman House's Flickr photostream.

More information on the George Eastman House photography collection is available at their website.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sea Eagles

They may be re-introduced to England, according to a recent article in ScienceDaily. The decision is still pending, but should be made in 2009.

Should the cry of the sea eagles be heard again over England's cliffs, the words of the poet of The Seafarer will come to life:
Storms there beat the stony cliffs,
where the tern spoke,
always the eagle cried at it,
no cheerful kinsmen
can comfort
the poor soul.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Library of Congress has posted a new Tracer Bullet (a "pathfinder," for all you librarians out there) on Archaeoastronomy. It's a fascinating discipline, involving history, archeology, anthropology, etc. From the Tracer Bullet:

Archaeoastronomy is the interdisciplinary study of prehistoric, ancient, and traditional astronomies within their cultural context. Its sources include both written and archaeological remains and it embraces calendrics, practical observation, sky lore, celestial myth, and more. Its true scope establishes it as an "anthropology of astronomy."

How does this relate to maritime history? Well, the only photo included is The Antikythera Mechanism, discovered on a sunken Greek ship.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cruise Travel & Popular Science

When I heard that Google Book Search was adding magazines, I was very happy to find Thomas Gruber's list of titles. Of particular interest to the maritime world:

Searching is via the usual Google Books interface,, and when you retrieve a magazine article, the screen will often say things like, "Read this book." There is searching help available just for the magazines, which says:

Once you've found a magazine that interests you, you can browse other issues of that magazine from the "About this magazine" page. Click on the "About this magazine" link at the top left of the screen, and scroll down to the section marked "Browse all issues." You can then explore different issues of the magazine by clicking on a decade that interests you, and then scrolling through the individual issues from that time.

However I didn't find the "Browse all issues" displayed consistently--perhaps Google's not sure which "books" are "magazines."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Naval History Society Collection, 1721-1995

Celia Hartmann, Project Archivist, Naval History Society Collection at the New-York Historical Society has sent along exciting news:

The New-York Historical Society has made available the finding aid for its newly processed Naval History Society Collection. You can find it at
where it is fully searchable.

The Collection consists of 53 individual collections, many named for renowned naval officers or vessels. These include correspondence, letterbooks, journals and diaries, lectures, essays, account books, biographical writings, genealogical information, scrapbooks, orders, notes, articles and clippings, photographs, manuscripts, and ships' logs, as well as the organizational records and correspondence of the Naval History Society itself.

The majority of the collections document American naval engagements and commercial maritime pursuits, personalities, and vessels; a few collections of British and French documents are included. The Collection as a whole provides primary sources on American naval involvement in hostilities from the American Revolution to the Spanish American War, as well as routine commercial and naval shipboard life, naval design, navigation, education and officer training. The Society's records document the founding, management, and activities of a collecting and publishing organization in the first third of the 20th century.

Processing of the Collection was made possible by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

The finding aid is a thing of beauty; easy to navigate, each of the series is linked to the relevant container list. Related material is covered, and under "Access restrictions," it's noted that microfilms of portions of the collection are available via interlibrary loan! The access points are easily browsed, and also hyperlinked, covering names, subjects, and even document types.

The only item that seems missing in the finding aid is a link for further information, so researchers take note: Celia will be there to answer questions until the end of the month. After that, contact the reference staff at the New York Historical Society. (If their website is unavailable, try phoning 212-873-3400.)

ETA: The finding aid now has a link for further information: select List of Finding Aids to see more finding aids, a link to the institution's home, etc. (Feb. 25, 2009)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Old magazine articles

Our friends at the Casco Bay Boaters Blog have sent along a fantastic link to the There is a lot there of maritime interest; the browse list on the home page includes links to Titanic articles and U.S. Navy uniform articles. You can also search by keywords, and the resulting list of articles includes long summaries that make it easy to select a pertinent resource. The articles I viewed were all Adobe Acrobat .pdf files, preserving the look of the original hardcopy, and many had links to relevant film clips.

The site is also good for popular coverage of related topics: business, arts, world affairs, etc. It's not a comprehensive collection, but a very nice selection.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Limelight on research for historical fiction

Julian Stockwin's article, Using the Internet in writing historical fiction has some great websites of interest to maritime authors and researchers. A feature of Limelight from Intute: Arts & Humanities, the article lists resources not only of use in maritime history research, but some leads for aspiring authors on such topics as how to submit a manuscript to a literary agent.

And if you haven't explored Intute: Arts & Humanities, set aside some time to head over there. It's amazingly well-organized and easy to use, and includes fascinating blog. (Don't miss the recent entry on Intute's hosting of the Port database.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving at sea

The Science Buzz site from the Science Museum of Minnesota has an article about a fun Thanksgiving at sea. Dinner was made for 114 people from a dozen different countries, and the table was festive with food sculptures and fruit statues.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maritime art at Christie's

On Dec. 3, Christie's will hold a maritime art auction in New York. (Sale no. 2067.)

Even if you're not in the market to buy a painting, do check out their auction site. You can limit the list of artworks by many factors including medium, artist, origin, and date. And clicking on a thumbnail of the work brings up a detailed page that allows you to "Enlarge & zoom" in on the image--the images load quickly and once zoomed, are easily panned for detailed examination.

You can also explore further by entering "maritime" into their keyword search box; it will retrieve all the items in this auction, plus maritime-themed items from other sales.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Straddling the world of the written word

Joan Druett, author of eighteen wonderful books, has a delightful blog, Straddling the world of the written word (now appearing in our blog list). Many of the posts deal with things maritime, but she also discusses the broader world of books, libraries, and publishing.

And don't miss the whisperings from Spy Mouse!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Casco Bay Boaters

There's a new blog in our resources list, Casco Bay Boaters. It's a great resource, even for those not boating in Casco Bay--the links under the "Charts" and "Weather & Tides" tabs are excellent. (There are even links about the phases of the moon.) There are also interesting original posts on many maritime topics, as well as highlights from other blogs, on everything having to do with the sea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alexander Selkirk & Robinson Crusoe

The recent news about the evidence of Alexander Silkirk's campsite on the island of Aguas Buenas (renamed Robinson Crusoe Island) reignited my interest in the debate over his connection to Defoe's character Robinson Crusoe. A CUNY website, Alexander Selkirk, has a thorough discussion of Selkirk in the context of other readings on castaways, and links to the BBC's excellent article on Selkirk and his possible connection to Crusoe.

Although this site hasn't been updated since 2002, it was developed as part of a course in the 18th century English novel that has lots of great resources and reading lists. Even the paper topics are still there--check them out if you're looking for suggested ways to approach the book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Harvard opts out

There has been a lot of coverage and analysis of the recent Google Books settlement with publishers and authors, but it's finally had an impact on the maritime world: see Jennifer Howard's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Harvard Says No Thanks to Google Deal for Scanning In-Copyright Works." Harvard's libraries contain a wealth of material on business, including the shipping industry, and their reasons for opting out include concerns over prices and quality. I believe this is very good news, as they are committed to exploring "other ways to open up its collections more broadly for the common good."

I read about this on the Open Content Alliance blog--the folks behind the Open Library catalog and the Internet Archive. These are becoming essential resources. If you're interested in digital books, start with the Open Library--it's an easy-to-use catalog that includes the over 1 million digital books at the Internet Archive. (You can limit your search to "scanned books only" right under the home page's search box.) If you're interested in other formats (audio, video, etc.), head directly to the Internet Archive, which also includes the WayBack Machine. If something you're interested in has disappeared from the web, chances are you can find it archived in the WayBack Machine.

Google Books is still a useful tool; it still functions as a multiple text index and includes many books still under copyright which, if you're lucky, show the snippet view of the passage that interests you. But I start with the Open Library and the Internet Archive; they present each book in multiple formats, and soon will release the next version of their online flip-book reader (which I was lucky enough to see last week, and which is a pleasure to use).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The portrait of a skeleton pirate

The story of the painting of the cover of Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides has been told by the artist, James Gurney. Perhaps better known for his Dinotopia books, he writes and illustrates Gurney Journey primarily for artists and writers, but it is also interesting for readers who've ever wondered about a cover illustration, or just how one might get a realistic animated skeleton model.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Transcience and Woolf

The BBC has run a story on the newly released recordings from the British Library, featuring some of the greatest writers of the past century, including the complete version of the only known recording of Virginia Woolf. (A two-minute excerpt is available with the article, and over seven minutes of her "Eulogy to words" is available on the BBC Four's Interviews site.)

What has this to do with maritime history? Her novel, To the Lighthouse, has often been called a meditation on transience. Lighthouses, beacons of life-saving, remind us always of the transience of life; of the need for the light because of the loss of life at that site.

Woolf's living voice--lost. This recording? We strive to preserve it not only through the British Library's staff's care, but through publication and wide distribution of many, many copies.

The sea? Eternal?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have a happy Halloween

"Ye ghost ship," from the Library of Congress' Prints & Photographs online catalog, which currently provides access to over 50% of the Division's holdings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thirty-one ancient ships

I'm becoming a big fan of the CBC's Dispatches (which I listen to on KALW). In their show from Oct. 20-26, 2008, the segment "Bosporus big dig" takes us to the construction area for a tunnel beneath the Bosporus Strait, which is a site for stunning archaeological discoveries, including, to date, thirty-one ships dating from the 4th to the 10th centuries.

Meribeth Deen's report is factual without being dry, educational without being pedantic. She conveys the tension of conducting painstaking investigation under the world's scrutiny; when completed, this project will end the "Bosporus bottleneck," and it will be possible to take the train from China to London.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Call For Papers - Coriolis

Coriolis: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies is seeking English language scholarly manuscripts for publication in a new on-line, fully indexed journal published in conjunction with the National Maritime Digital Library, hosted at Mystic Seaport with support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

Named after the physical forces that drive global ocean currents and human activities on the seas, Coriolis welcomes studies in history, literature, art, music, archaeology, and environmental studies from researchers all over the world. The journal particularly seeks anglophonic manuscripts from scholars working outside the North Atlantic/North American regions, including Africa, the Indian Ocean basin, Australia, the Pacific basin, and South America. Papers that explore interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Submitted manuscripts will be fully peer-reviewed by university faculty and researchers active in the manuscript's relevant field.

Coriolis will launch in February of 2009 and can be found at

For more information, contact Paul O'Pecko ( or Andrew German, (, Editors, Mystic Seaport Museum.

Section Editors:

Joshua Smith, Associate Professor of Humanities, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Arts (Literature, Art, Music):
Daniel Brayton, Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures, Middlebury College

Environmental Studies:
Matthew McKenzie, Assistant Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seafood Watch sushi pocket guide is out!

It's here! The sushi pocket guide is available online, for download, and via mail order (all for free) from Seafood Watch's sushi website.

From there, select the "Animals & Activities" link, and choose the "Podcast, Videos and Webcams" to go to the E-Quarium. The Outer Bay Cam is a real treat--if you're luck, the Giant Pacific Bluefin Tuna will swim by. (For help in finding it, open the Outer Bay Spotting Guide, and don't miss the little blue fish links next to the animal's name--it's a link to an excellent online field guide.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preservation at work and at home

Are you confronted with preservation issues on the job, but money for training is scarce? Or absent? Preservation 101 is a free online course from the Northeast Document Conservation Center--itself a wealth of free information on preservation and conservation, including Resources for private and family collections, a short, must-read overview for anyone who confronted with preservation issues at home.

And who isn't? The information presented isn't just applicable to medieval manuscripts; have any digital photos? Want to still have those digital photos? Check out the site.

Want to know more? My favorite collection of conservation information for all audiences: COOL--COnservation OnLine. It's all there, from citations to the scientific research behind aging testing to what to with a myriad of objects found in the home, to how to locate a professional conservator.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CFP: Rethinking the Maritime Museum

The excellent museum studies blog, The Attic, gleans many items of interest to the maritime museum world, including the recent CFP, Rethinking the Maritime Museum from H-Museum. From the Department of Museum Studies' research students, University of Leicester, UK, The Attic has many items of international interest, and now appears in MaritimeCompass' list of recommended blogs (on your right, if you're reading this on our site). Be sure to follow their link to the Museological Review--there's a lot of interesting reading there on cultural heritage.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Princess TaiPing

On Friday Oct. 10, I was biking in to work through Aquatic Park as usual, and luckily I had a camera with me. I never expected to see a junk that wasn't the Grace Quan in Aquatic Park, and little did I know about the treat that lay in store.

Yesterday at our staff meeting, we were privileged to hear a presentation by Nelson Liu (Liu Ning-sheng), captain of the Princess TaiPing, and Angela Chao (Chai Hsiu-Ying). Fifty-four feet long, drawing only about six and a half feet, they sailed into Eureka on Oct. 3, crossing the Pacific in 69 days. They hope to sail down the Pacific Coast of North America, and return to China--if they do, they will making the first documented round-trip voyage of a junk under sail, since the Free China who crossed the Pacific 50 years ago never made it back.

A replica of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) war junk, her keel was laid on Jan. 20, 2007, and she was built using completely traditional techniques, and as historically accurate as possible. She was even launched traditionally, with a custom-built winch, later donated to a maritime museum. Now this war junk is on a mission of peace and living history--if she is successful, it is hoped she will continue her mission of peace and education through donating her to a maritime museum.

Now she is in San Francisco at the Hyde St. Pier, open to the public, until the end of the month (possibly Oct. 28), from there, continuing on to Hawaii. Visit her if you can--how often does one get the chance to step aboard a Ming Dynasty war junk?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty on the beach

Please read Peter Mello's excellent post on poverty in the maritime world, which he wrote to participate in Blog Action Day 2008.

His title, "Shipbreaking/People Breaking" says it all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ports, Forts & Sports

The Call for Papers is out for the 2009 Annual Conference of the North American Society for Oceanic History, Steamship Historical Society of America and National Maritime Historical Society, "Ports, Forts and Sports: Maritime Economy, Defense and Recreation through Time and across Space." If you missed the announcement on H-Maritime, you may not have heard that papers from graduate students are especially encouraged and solicited--so get writing, and build that CV!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Top ten whale titles

The latest top ten list from the Guardian brings us Philip Hoare's top ten whale tales. The author of Leviathan, or The Whale starts his list with Moby Dick, but continues with more obscure titles including nonfiction covering various disciplines, poetry, and even a guidebook to marine mammals.

The article even links to the BBC's The Hunt for Moby-Dick if you're looking for an audio-visual exploration of this leviathan of whaling literature.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Any Takers?

JFK's yacht "Manitou" is for sale for$1.3 million. A 62-foot Sparkman and Stephens-designed yawl built by M.M. Davis and Sons in Solomons Island in 1937 "Manitou" was President John F. Kennedy's sailing White House.

While Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S.S Sequoia is perhaps the most famous presidential yacht there are several others. Most listed on the Presidential yachts page.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sailing again with the Canadians

The CBC's Dispatches program is addressing maritime matters again this week; the story for Oct. 6/12, 2008 features David McGuffin's interviews concerning piracy off of Somalia. He provides an interesting overview of the international issues as well as details as he speaks with those on the scene, including those on board the Ville de Qu├ębec. The conversation continues with Roger Middleton discussing causes, details of the pirates' tactics, the limitations of defenses, and suggestions for possible solutions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Franklin Expedition developments

"The archeological discoveries exceeded our expectations," says Robert Grenier, chief of underwater archeology at Parks Canada, in a Reuters Canada article. Their major find: fragments of copper sheeting likely from the expedition's vessels. Although fog, snow, and high winds hampered their activities this season, they will be returning to continue their work in 2009 and 2010.

In addition, a detailed essay refuting the long-held theory that the expedition members' lead poisoning was due their tinned food has been published in the September issue of the Journal of the Hakluyt Society. In his paper, which the Society has kindly made available online as a .pdf file (complete with color illustrations), William Battersby attributes the lead poisoning to a unique system for distilling water in Erebus and Terror. These systems, though, were fitted into the ships at the last minute; conclusive proof of the lead content of the systems' components would come through archaeological discoveries. For that, the wait continues.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Life at sea: an update

A while ago, Kelly had posted Life at Sea featuring the CS6 crew of the USS Enterprise--the link to the video was unfortunately broken, but I've tracked it down. If you haven't seen it, it's a treat:

You can find it at:
Or google it by title: "CS6 Crew of the USS Enterprise CVN-65 Numa Numa"

Also, dontskydive helpfully explains, "CS6 is the Combat Systems Division responsible for Radar and Navigation onboard an Aircraft Carrier." Thanks dontskydive!

Looking for the song? It is "Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone, and you can find it on the album Disco Zone--it's a great album.

What makes for a successful museum these days?

This month's The Atlantic has an article on Philippe de Montebello, the soon-to-depart Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The short summary of said article is that the Met has flourished in the last 3 decades under his persistence in mounting high quality exhibits, based on, and contributing to scholarship.

In an era when more and more museums (and it seems especially maritime museums) are launching more "Popular events" such as Pirate Days, than exhibits it's a refreshing take on the situation.

If you’re interested in reading more:

(Image is from the Met's collection -
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)

Schooner and Bark in Harbor (from Scrapbook)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On patrol with the Canadian Navy

Part one of this week's Dispatches from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a story not just about the Canadian Navy's pursuit of pirates and gunrunners in the Middle East, but was made as they carried out their duties. It's heartstopping listening as reporter David Common is there with the crew as they carry out Operation Altair on HMCS Calgary.

About ten minutes in length, the podcast is available for streaming or download, under the show for Sept. 29/Oct. 5.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Celebrating Nelson

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Lord Horatio Nelson's birth, the Guardian published its latest top ten book list, Roy and Lesley Adkins's top 10 Nelson books. Their recommendation is that one read two or three of the many biographies, but their annotations will guide the reader who might be interested in reading only one--or in finding a place to begin studying Nelson and his world. If you're interested in the man, his navy, Portsmouth, or in touring Nelson memorials, you'll find a book here of interest.

Also on Monday, a new bust of Nelson was unveiled in Portsmouth. The article in the Telegraph has a nice photo, but the article on This is Bath covers the details of the painstaking research that the sculptor, Robert Hornyold-Strickland, conducted to construct the best likeness possible, including his study of a life mask produced in Austria in 1800 and only recently authenticated.

Monday, September 29, 2008

HM Revenue & Customs Research

The Useful information for researchers related to HM Revenue and Customs site at the Merseyside Maritime Museum is easily overlooked, since it's not part of the archives and library section where the rest of the research guides are located. Part of the Seized! exhibit section, it contains information guides with details on records, a brief history of smuggling in Britain, and pointers for genealogists. There's even an extensive book list for further reading on the topics of customs and excise and smuggling--including a citation to a book for children. The site also links to a wide range of websites in the fields of archives and heritage, government (local and international), education, and even endangered species and animal welfare, proving it a useful starting point for research in any of the many fields touched by the history of illicit imports.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Unclogging the Houston Ship Channel

Today's Morning Edition on NPR has an excellent story, "Coast Guard Unclogs Houston Ship Channel" by Noah Adams that tells you what happens when the channel to the tenth busiest port in the world loses its channel markers, and how they were replaced to restore shipping within three days. The story is rich with the sounds of the Channel, and the voices of those who became very important to the global economy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All the Best Rubbish

I picked up Ivor Noel Hume's All the Best Rubbish because I had enjoyed his Martin's Hundred, and simply because it was on top of the pile.

That was weeks ago. Much of it has stayed with me, especially his subtle wit which made me laugh out loud on pre-dawn bus commutes. His brief history of museums and collecting in England set them into the context of seafaring exploration and trade in a way which made me appreciate the extent to which Anglo-American museum history is maritime history.

But the words that I hope I will carry with me always are on page 83:

Any of us who tampers with the remains of the past has a moral responsibility to it...

What makes this book such an indispensable partner is the fact that it tells us why.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Following bluefin

I first became interested in bluefin tuna through reading Trevor Corson's Zen of fish : the story of sushi from Samurai to supermarket (which is now out in paperback as The Story of sushi). After hearing Richard Ellis on NPR's Talk of the Nation, I'm eager to read his new book, Tuna : a love story.

The NPR story, broadcast on Sept. 5, 2008, is available as a podcast, and is well worth a listen; a little over a half-hour, the discussion includes developments from recent research, and fascinating details about the life of an amazing creature.

While you're listening, you can also watch a bluefin from the comfort of your own computer via the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Outer Bay Cam, which is accompanied by an excellent spotting guide to help identify the animals you're seeing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Talk like a pirate day

It's an annual event and quite a cultural phenomenon: Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It was all started by Dave Barry, with his Miami Herald column from Sept. 8, 2002.

Wired has takent the opportunity to post A Reality Check - 9 Pirate Myths Examined with useful links embedded in the text, including one to an article from Slate, published June 5, 2007, that examines the origins of what we think of as pirate-speech. Both articles argue strongly that we're really celebrating Talk Like Robert Newton Day.

Want to really talk like a pirate? Of course, pirates today probably speak like everyone else does, only possibly more strongly. (I would rather not find out for sure.) But Christopher Bonanos, the author of the Slate article, provides instructions for speaking like a historic pirate:

...onboard speech was most likely underclass British sailor with extra curse words, augmented with a polyglot slang of French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch picked up around the trade routes

Cheers, bon chance, and good [expletive deleted] celebrations!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Arctic chills

I have been eagerly following the current wave of Arctic exploration, and clicked over to the Arctic Chronicles, the new USGS blog by Jessica Robertson, with anticipation. It wasn't the image of ice to port that gave me goosebumps, nor the thrill of following along on an expedition in a way unthought of in Lady Franklin's day; it was the name of the ship: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy.

Captain Healy's thrilling story will give anyone chills. The son of a former slave, I first learned about him through Maria Brooks' film, The Odyssey of Captain Healy. His story is exciting in ways that would ring falsely in fiction, and now the U.S.'s newest and most technologically advanced icebreaker is proudly carrying his name on a voyage of exploration.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How to Avoid Huge Ships takes third

John Trimmer's How to Avoid Huge Ships finished a close third in the Bookseller's online poll to find the oddest book title of the last thirty years, taking a respectable 10% of the vote. The winner with 13% was Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, followed by People Who Don't Know They're Dead with 11%.

Conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Tittle of the Year was first awarded by The Diagram Group in 1978 to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. How to Avoid Huge Ships won the prize in 1992, just before American Bottom Archaeology took it in 1993.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leap seconds

The U.S. Naval Observatory has posted a survey to gather information in advance of the International Telecommunications Union Radiocommunications Sector's consideration of a proposal to discontinue the periodic addition of leap seconds to Coordinated Universal Time. Probably of more interest to the maritime professions than the museum crowd, it is worth a look--the more technically minded can find a link there to the .pdf of the Memorandum and white paper from Assistant Secretary of Defense John G. Grimes (from Sept. 3, 2008).

The more general reader may wish to follow the other link at the top of the page to the USNO's leap seconds page. Scientific and historical, this page links to other fascinating resources such as excellent descriptions of different systems of time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where no water bear has gone before

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are fascinating creatures. They are little studied, but very successful--they live on land, in fresh water, and in the sea. They are amazingly hardy creatures, able to survive incredibly harsh environments, and have become the first known animal able to survive the vacuum of outer space.

Details are in the coverage of the press release in Science Daily, which has a link to the article in Current Biology. If you have access to a microscope, you can go find water bears--see the Goldstein Lab at UNC Chapel Hill's website on tardigrades to learn how. You may fall under their spell--they're absolutely adorable, and as enchanting as any magical creature--they can survive for years without water, even traveling on the wind, can be freeze-dried, and come back to life in minutes when rehydrated.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Museum Associations

The American Association of Museums (in the U.S.) has released new Standards Regarding Archaeological Material and Ancient Art (approved July, 2008). This is just one publication on a useful website; it's a shame that much of the information there is hidden behind a member login, since membership in AAM is far beyond the resources of the majority of museums in the U.S.

This is where the Small Museum Association comes in. Their website even features a Classifieds section, and their list of members is wonderful--you can limit by type of museum with a handy pop-down list.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Maritime Flickr

The maritime treasure on Flickr is breathtaking. Beyond the beauty of the images shared by contemporary photographers (one of my favorites is OneEighteen) are the historic images being uploaded to Flickr in droves. The image that accompanies this post is from The Smithsonian Institution's photostream. Of course, not all of it is maritime, but the institutional users are taking their Flickr presence very seriously, with thorough captions, topical sets for easy browsing, and tags that allow easy searching & retrieval of their images.

I also like checking out who the institution's contacts are (go to their Profile, then scroll down). (The Brooklyn Museum's behind the scenes sets are fascinating.) If you check out the Library of Congress' Flickr site, be prepared to search by tags, because they have over 4000 images in only two sets, so browsing by set may take a while--a fun while, but a while.

The true maritime treasure on Flickr? Here you go:

Use the "people" search to find more!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bookstart Day

Booktrust in the U.K. has announced the theme for National Bookstart Day 2008: Pirates Ahoy!

I find this fascinating. Their slogan, "gifting free books to babies," makes me imagine a ship full of babies preparing to repel boarders.

So arm yourself with a book and get involved! Their website has information for libraries, parents, booksellers--in the U.K. and abroad. An article at also has details on planned activities, including those at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exhibition: Model show in Denver

The Rocky Mountain Shipwrights send along an annoucement of their Model Show and Exhibition, Oct. 18 through Nov. 1, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. There will be models of sailing ships, steamships, warships--from beginners to masters, from kits and from scratch.

If you can't make it to Denver, do check out the photo gallery on their website.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Three books: true tales of piracy

A new addition to NPR's Three Books series are three books concerning true tales of piracy and plunder. This list was compiled by author Brooks Brown, who, according to the photo caption, "has spent many years trying to prove that pirates are way cooler than ninjas."

Hmmm. The ninjas that appear in The Tick are pretty cool.

Do head over and check out the list--NPR's book coverage is wonderful, whether you read the webpage or follow the link to the audio. And if you want to support public broadcasting, follow the links in the little blue-gray box to buy the books.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Still Searching for the Franklin Expedition

It's true; according to Randy Boswell's article, Parks Canada to lead new search for Franklin's ships:

The Canadian government confirmed Friday it will embark on the most extensive search ever for the fabled British shipwrecks Erebus and Terror...

Why send out the icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier? Why look for Franklin's ships after all this time? Not just for global maritime history, but for the reasons that have lain behind maritime exploration for centuries: to boost a claim for sovereignty.

If you're unfamiliar with the Franklin Expedition, or the contemporary issues surrounding nations' claims to seabed rights in the Arctic, read Boswell's article--he summarizes the history and why it's important to the polar nations of today. He even includes a fascinating tidbit: Britain gave the ships to Canada, should they ever be found.

The resources concerning Franklin and the northwest passage are vast; some of the best include:

And a there's even a wonderful novel, Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal.

Want to explore virtually? Then follow the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier icebreaker via the website. Imagine what it would have been like for Lady Franklin to have had that option.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Albania, over and under the water

I just discovered Nicolle Hirschfeld's wonderful Underwater Albania. Beautifully written, start with the first post, "Albania??" published on August 5, where she speaks of the associations that she has with Albania and its history. Her story continues as one of the best travelogues I've ever read, bringing Albania to life with vivid detail and humor.

But this is not just entertainment; Nicolle is an assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The turns of phrase, though, give the impression that this instructor is a wordsmith. To her, the Illyrian pirates were "the stuff of Roman nightmares," and she weaves into a late night post the story of an ancient Egyptian search for cedar. In the midst, she clearly and engagingly explains the role of every step in the expedition. For those of us not fortunate enough to ever be involved in such a venture, this blog should be required reading--she involves the reader in every step from the high-tech surveys to squashing into a wetsuit.

The post that made me a devoted reader, though, was published on Aug. 18, and began:

I am where I love to be. Behind me, the island of Corfu; before me, the coast of Albania.

How rare to be where you love to be, and to take the time to share it with the world?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Positions & the Caird Library blog

I've tweaked our layout a bit to create a handy list of job resources, from individual maritime museums that post their open positions, to general job listings where maritime jobs tend to show up. Also, I've added some links that include marine education positions in academic and marine industry settings.

Some of them have rss feeds, some sites have email distribution, and some sites have neither--just click through to check them out.

And I've added a blog to our list that I absolutely love reading: the blog from the Caird Library at the NMM in Greenwich. It has everything that I think an institutional blog should: news regarding services, resource highlights, and quick blurbs about resources of interest. They provide an rss feed and email distribution, so sign up--but don't neglect visiting the site. They include handy links to the catalog and a wonderful selection of news headlines.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What will we find and why?

Luke Slattery's article In search of Western Civilization's lost classics in the Aug. 6, 2008 edition of The Australian isn't just interesting for its discussion of the latest techniques that allow us to read charred papyri, but for addressing the question of why we go to all this trouble. Why archeology? Why conservation? Why study? Why write history?

And what does this have to do with maritime history?

Consider that these texts may hold a copy of the Kypria, which is believed to be Homer's source material, as well as many other highly influential lost texts, which have shaped our ideas of not only who we were, but who we are.

Our sense of our history influences our concepts of ourselves, but we often forget that history is not fixed--it is written based on what is available. And occasionally we are lucky enough to recover objects from our past that allow us to rewrite our history and change our concepts of ourselves.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In conclusion

In this last look at the maritime books in The Guardian's top ten series, I have quite a few lists for you, and have barely scratched the surface. How many lists are there at The Guardian's top ten series site? As of this writing, 270. That's a lot of reading. The lists below, published from 2003 back to the beginning of the series, contain a lot of the usual suspects, but also some surprises:

  • Jude Fisher's top ten tales of adventure has a lot of maritime books, including one in a genre not often represented in the maritime world, fantasy. Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb is a fun read, and unusual for setting merchant shipping in a magical world. Ever think your ship is actually intelligent? Then you need to read this book and check out the rest of Fisher's recommendations.
  • Peter F. Steven's top ten nautical books contains titles that will probably be familiar to most MaritimeCompass readers, but the book at the no.1 spot is worth mentioning: Armada by Garrett Mattingly is a must-read for anyone interesting in the history of ships, shipping, or naval developments. Wonder why merchant ships of the 19th century look as they do? This book actually explains it. The period of the Armada was pivotal for shipbuilding, and if you think naval architecture is a dry subject, then this is the book that will make it come alive.
  • Martin Gorst's top ten books on science contains many titles of interest to maritime readers, covering math, Darwin, and astronomy.

And their lists will keep coming--if this has whetted your appetite, go to the Guardian's main top tens site and add it to your rss reader. And explore the rest of the site--they have great content, for free, including Ten top sea kayaking destinations, if you need to fit in a trip before the summer's over!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And we're off

Have you brushed up on the history of science? Sharpened your navigation skills? Then check out Max jones' top ten books about exploration. The author of The Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice, his list is rich in titles about Scott, but broadens to include explorers from the 14th century through man's journeying into space.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The history of science

You may be surprised at the choice of the next list: Simon Singh's favourite books on the history of science. Singh is the author of Fermat's Last Theorem, a book which I enjoyed immensely, but, to be fair, I can't relate to maritime history. To bring this on topic, Longitude by Dava Sobel makes his list at no. 6--if you haven't read it, it's very entertaining, and I highly recommend getting the illustrated edition if you're not intimately familiar with the chronometers.

Maybe I can relate this to maritime history: knowledge of maritime history is richer when one investigates the history of science. Navigation? Mathematics. Steam engines? They put the "engine" in "engineering," which requires an understanding of physics. Without the great minds behind the history of science, would these vessels have floated upon the waves?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bathurst's top ten

Another interesting top ten list on the Guardian site is that of the author of The Lighthouse Stevensons and The Wreckers, Bella Bathurst's top ten books on the sea. Moby Dick appears on this list as well, but her choice at the no. 1 spot? The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The rest of the list is more surprising, containing books not often mentioned on other reading lists, including a book of photographs.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Island reading

Are you thinking of sandy beaches? Of ripe, tropical fruits under shady palms? Even the drama of shipwreck from the safety of your own hearth? Let's begin a look at the maritime aspects of The Guardian's many top ten reading lists, beginning with a little armchair travel to island paradises.

Romesh Gunesekera takes you island hopping with a list of his top ten island books. This list is far ranging, with capsule reviews and descriptions. Not surprising, it includes Robinson Crusoe, but less obvious is the choice of Moby Dick--his paragraph justifying the inclusion of Moby Dick in a list of island reading is a thing of beauty.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Follow the Sun

A lovely web exhibit has been posted by the National Library of Australia, Follow the Sun : Australian Travel Posters, 1930s-1950s. What's maritime about it? Most of the images are images of the sea. East to navigate, and quick-loading, the online exhibit is delightful. When viewing the posters (via the "Destinations" link), look out for the appearance of a wee TV icon on the upper right indicating an available film. (Films are supplied by Screensound Australia.) The "Lithography" link is also fascinating, explaining with modern images the entire process.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deterioration of the digital?

There's a very interesting article at, At Libraries, Taking the (Really) Long View. Aimed at a general audience, the article is nonetheless interesting for those in the field, beginning the detailed discussion of digital preservation with the story of the tapes from NASA's Viking landers in 1975. The article is rich in links to current projects so is more than just background reading--it's a gateway to exploration of the topic.

At the conclusion of the article we learn what the biggest obstacle to digital preservation is--would you be surprised to learn that it's human beings?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Surf's up!

To celebrate its "Summer Surf" film series, the Library of Congress has posted an an interview with John Severson, founder of Surfer Magazine and director of "Pacific Vibrations." In a short interview, they cover a lot of ground (or water): surfing, making surfing films, making films today, and where the genre is headed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The U.S. Navy is seeking a Cultural Resource/Collecting Management Specialist at Twentynine Palms, CA, with a first cut-off date of July 30, and final closing date of Aug. 6.

Note: You can also get to the job ad if you go to the main recruitment site, select "Search for Jobs," and search by the job title.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sustainable seafood resources

Trevor Corson (author of one of my favorite books, The zen of fish) maintains a very entertaining blog that is a great source of information on sustainable seafood, The Scrawling Claw. Recently he guided his readers to a new publication, Seafood solutions : a chef's guide available from the The Chef's Collective.

It's intriguing reading. Aimed at professional chefs, it's nonetheless of interest to those who consume seafood or who wish to keep abreast of fishery issues. It also has excellent bibliographies, mentioning the Pew Oceans Commission report of 2002 as well as a cookbook. Under "Further Resources" (on p.15) you'll find an excellent list of fisheries, seafood and aquarium websites, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium's which provides the popular Seafood Watch guides for consumers.

And if you're hungry, the last page points you to some restaurants.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cooking for 100 aboard ship?

Then you need General mess manual and cookbook for use on board vessels of the United States Navy from 1904. The Internet Archive edition is available in several formats, including Adobe Acrobat .pdf, plain text, and even a flip book that allows you to turn the pages as they appear in the printed edition.

And it's not all beef broth and boiled oatmeal; in 1904 the sailors could still have plum duff:

Soak 25 pounds of stale bread in cold water and drain dry.
Add 25 pounds of sifted flour, 5 pounds of suet chopped fine, 3
pounds of raisins, 5 pounds of sugar, 4. pounds of currants, 2
pounds of prunes, 3 tablespoonfuls of salt, 1 teaspoonful of ground
cloves, 1 tablespoonful of ground cinnamon, and 1 wineglassful
of vinegar, and mix all thoroughly with cold water. Turn the
bags inside out, drop them into boiling water, render out slightly,
and drop into dry flour, dredging them thoroughly. Turn the
bags flour side in and fill them with the pudding, securing the
opening firmly, drop into the copper in which water is boiling
and cook for at least two hours. If there is sufficient time, the
pudding will be improved by boiling three or four hours.

The 1902 edition is also available online from the Navy Department Library, but only as a single web page, which takes a very long time to load.

The Internet Archive has other cookbooks; searching for cookery will bring up screens full, as it appears in many titles of older cookbooks as well as being the current Library of Congress subject heading term.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Expanded book coverage

I have been reading a lot about the decline of book criticism in traditional media outlets, chiefly on ArtsJournal (admittedly, a non-traditional media outlet). Newspapers that used to take in pride in their coverage of the publishing industry and quality of their book reviews have been reducing and even eliminating their book sections.

Where to turn? The radio. NPR is expanding their book coverage. According to an article in Publishers Weekly, NPR has hired six new book reviewers (including a graphic novel reviewer) and is adding weekly book reviews and more book-focused content. The PW article links to several reading lists already posted, and on NPR's sidebar, right there, with those topics we see on all media pages like "Business" and "Health & Science" is Books.

Dig around. The site is delicious. Reviews, podcasts, newsletters to sign up for, links to programs, and purchasing links that support NPR and public radio. There is plenty for maritime readers; start with Sunken Treasures in their 3 Books series.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The U.S. Coast Guard in New London, Connecticut is seeking a museum curator, closing date Aug. 12, 2008.

Note: the job is posted on the U.S. government's USAJobs site, and can take quite a while to load.

Monday, July 21, 2008

U.S.'s Most Endangered Historic Places

The lead article of the latest issue of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Magazine is America's Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places. On the list:

California's State Parks: California's state park system is one of the country's largest and most successful. Unfortunately, the system remains drastically underfunded and at risk of deterioration—a result of more than $1 billion in deferred maintenance.

What does this have to do with the sea? California's Underwater Parks site explains. Not only an outline of the rich marine and cultural resources within the state's park system, with links to California's underwater parks, the site includes links to articles on California's maritime heritage that are thorough, well-written, and make wonderful reading. The expected is covered, with essays on shipwrecks and historic vessels, but the unexpected also surprises: scroll down to find the article about the airplane.

And keep in mind when you're following the links that these are some of the resources on the endangered list.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Searching for early Americans

The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review published an article this week, Search for first Americans to plunge underwater, by Allison M. Heinrichs about James Adovasio's participation in an upcoming expedition in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike many underwater expeditions the attract media attention, Adovasio, the director of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, won't be searching for wrecked ships--he'll be searching for evidence of early occupation in North America, such as tools or the remnants of the plants and animals that were eaten. And he'll be searching 120 to 360 feet underwater.

He won't be alone; the project is supported by many institutions, including NOAA and the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, which will be sending C. Andrew Hemmings, research associate. An article about Hemming's participation in the project is not just interesting to read, but has links to more information about the Clovis culture that Hemmings and Adovasio are investigating. If you follow the link to the virtual museum exhibit, Clovis Reconsidered, you'll be taken far away from saltwater--far from maritime pursuits--but pursuing the trail of people through remote history is a reminder that the border between the land and the sea is not a solid, defined line. The saltwater moves and changes; the coast today will not be the coast tomorrow. Many lands of our ancestors are submerged today, and the ocean beds when the dinosaurs roamed? The Badlands in the center of a continent.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Position: President - New Bedford Whaling Museum

The President/CEO is responsible for the leadership of the organization and for defining and articulating its vision and mission. The individual will work to insure the continued position of the organization as the preeminent whaling museum in the country and the leading cultural facility in the region. Reporting directly to the Board, the President will have responsibility for the creation and implementation of the organization’s strategic goals, the development and administration of its program activities, the direction of the day-to-day administrative functions, the responsibility for senior management and staff, and the financial well-being of the organization. Much of the President’s energy will be spent enhancing and building connections with a wide variety of constituents to strengthen the museum’s presence and exposure in the community. Strategic alliances with community-based organizations, industry, political leaders, and individuals will be essential to maintain and enhance the profile and effectiveness of the organization through shared information and resources. The continuation of the organization as one that is open and inclusive and representative of the multiple cultures that have shaped the region and are representative of the whaling industry is essential.

Full description

The Grog Ration

The July/August issue of The Grog Ration is out. A bimonthly periodical, it's of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about the history of medicine at sea. And it's free.

Issues contain original articles and historic photos on a breadth of topics, and the current issue is no exception: "In the eye of the storm : the story of a Navy dentist and the racial unrest in the fleet during the Vietname War Era" by John Sherwood, "A Navy physician-poet in context," profiling Captain Frederick Foote, excerpts from "Thulia : a tale of the antarctic" from 1843, as well as shorter articles, the Navy medical history quiz, and the Navy Medical History Crossword Puzzle no.1--if you turn in your answers by Aug. 5, 2008, you're eligible to receive a special prize! How many maritime periodicals offer that?

Issues are distributed as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files via email; to subscribe, or inquire about submission guidelines, email Andre.Sobocinski (at)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


On this side of the pond, the USS Constitution Museum in Boston seeks a Director of Museum Learning, closing on July 18, 2008.

And across the pond, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich seeks a Trusts and Statutory Grants Manager, closing date July 30, 2008.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New titles at Project Gutenberg

Several books of maritime interest have been added to Project Gutenberg:

As We Swept Through The Deep by Gordon Stables, 1894.
The sailor's word-book by W.H. Smyth, 1867.
With Cochrane the Dauntless by G.A. Henty, 1897.

And not a maritime title, but of interest those involved with historic photography, is American Handbook of the Daguerrotype by Samuel D. Humphrey, 1858.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Into the Blue

Thanks to Michael D. Barton, I've discovered the Royal Society Library podcasts. Many are offered as mp3 audio as well as m4v video, as is one of particular interest to maritime folks, Into the blue: voyages of discovery 1700-1850 by Rupert Baker, about the voyaging fellows of the Society.

I listened to the audio, and didn't feel that I was missing much, since he includes descriptions of the contents of the visual presentation. The lecture was a fascinating half-hour that began with the nautical connections of the Society in the 17th century, and continued with specific stories about particular people and expeditions. Baker seems to assume no prior maritime knowledge, but specialists may wish to tune in to learn about the Royal Society connections and related resources.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


There are new listings on the National Maritime Museum Job Opportunities page: Storage Project Co-ordinator (5 year fixed term contract), Assistant Registrar - Loans In (2 year fixed term contract), and Security Officer.

And don't forget to check the Underwater Archaeology & Maritime History Jobs blog if you're interested in a maritime museum position (now appearing in our list of Related Blogs & Resources).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Infrastructure and Public Works

Interested in harbors? Bridges? Take a look at the new Science Tracer Bullet from the Library of Congress, Infrastructure and Public Works. The list of subject headings is linked directly to the LC catalog; for example, the subject heading harbors retrieves screens and screens of resources--not just books. (These subject headings can also be used in other catalogs that use the Library of Congress subject heading system, such as Worldcat.)

There are also bibliographies of basic, additional, and specialized texts, so if you'd like to begin learning about maritime facilities as a component of a larger infrastructure, these items will get you started while giving you new directions for further reading. Specialized texts, technical documents, and dissertations are also listed, as are professional societies and selected internet resources.

There are many other Science Tracer Bullets that touch on maritime subjects; find them through the very small link at the upper left of the page, "Home >> Tracer Bullets."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Dispersal of Darwin

Michael D. Barton has taken the time to add a list of wonderful links to Darwin and Wallace resources in the comments section of the LII and Darwin post. In it he mentions his blog, The Dispersal of Darwin which is not to be missed. In addition to covering current events related to Darwin, he takes the time to list additions to The Complete Works of Charles Darwin site with complete citations and links to texts. He also mentions plays, posters, Beagle resources, zoology databases--everything from the occasional newspaper article to comprehensive resources. And it's not just current awareness, and not just Darwin--interested in science? Scroll down the page to find science journals, magazines, radio shows and even cartoons.

His tags are not alphabetized for easy browsing, and the page is long (yet very rich in content), so the "find" feature of your browser may be handy for finding tags such as "Beagle" and "Exploration."

Thanks to Michael for the great resource!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The Underwater Archaeology and Maritime History Jobs blog has several announcements in maritime museums:

  • Shipwright, Australian National Maritime Museum, closes July 4 (Sydney, Australia)
  • Manager, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, closes July 8 (Halifax, NS, Canada)
  • Director of Museum Learning, USS Constitution Museum, closes July 18 (Boston, Mass.)

This wonderful resources doesn't just list jobs--don't miss the National Maritime Museum fellowships and internships listed in the June 28th entry.

Monday, June 30, 2008

LII and Darwin

When I'm looking for something on the internet, I often start with the Librarians' Internet Index. Their slogan is "Websites you can trust," and in my experience that's proven true. One reason they're so trustworthy is that the project is publicly funded, with minimal ad support (you may not even notice the ads), and under the general management of the Califa Library Group here in California.

Not everything is in the LII--that's the point. Every site that's been selected has been evaluated and reviewed by a librarian, and they're very open about the selection criteria for including sites in the project. So you may not find anything related to your topic there, but if you do, you can read the librarian's signed review about the site(s), and know that you will find reliable information--part of a librarian's training is in evaluating the quality and reliability of sources, and when you access LII, you're taking advantage of their expertise--for free. And when I don't find something in LII, it reminds me to be on the alert--to remember to view information on the internet with a critical eye towards the reliability of the sources.

Besides being able to search LII or browse by topic, you can also subscribe to their weekly newsletter of new sites by email or rss. That's how I heard about The Linnean Society's site celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and related events, such as the 150th anniversary on the 1st of July of the reading of the paper from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace outlining, for the first time, the theory of evolution by natural selection. It links to information on the anniversary events, such as the fantastic Darwin 200 site, as well as to related scholarship by Alfred Russel Wallace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mythic Creatures online exhibit

The Kraken, mermaids, and the Nasca Killer Whale are among the mythic creatures represented in the Field Museum's exhibit Mythic Creatures. If you can't make it to Chicago to see the exhibit in person, the online exhibit is worth a look. If you're interested only in maritime creatures, you can go directly to the Water section of the exhibit, but don't miss the Dragons section, as dragons from many traditions are affiliated with the water.

The online exhibit also contains a section on educational materials, featuring a free, 38 page educator guide (in .pdf format).

But what I find lacking in the online exhibit are pointers to more resources. The images are lovely, the text educational and entertaining, but ultimately this is an information cul-de-sac. Treating our museum's websites as online brochures, as advertising materials to increase foot traffic, doesn't prohibit us from also creating a virtual museum that stimulates further exploration of the topic--it would take just a few links to evaluated resources that provide more information.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reading about reading

I've been taking it for granted that Maritime Compass readers are also Sea Fever and Compass Rose Review readers, but if that's not the case, here are some very good reasons to click over and add them to your rss feeds:

  • Sea Fever's excellent post about Sailing and books that mentions enough books to keep you busy most of the summer with a link to 101 more
  • Compass Rose Review's Music of the sea that includes a bibliography of sea chantey books
  • Compass Rose Review's Read all about it post with a list of sixteen watershed nautical works

And don't stop there--read the other posts--Peter A. Miello at Sea Fever and Peter H. Spectre at Compass Rose Review are consistently entertaining and informative.

And if you get hooked on any of the series mentioned, check out Kent District Library's What's Next? Books in Series Database. In the "Series" search box, enter any word, such as "Hornblower," and the result will be the author's name--click on that, and you'll get a list of the books in the series, in order. As a resource this database lacks the comprehensive coverage of a review article, or Wikipedia article, but I see that as an advantage: if I know I want to read the series, I don't want spoilers. I don't want to read someone else's review or outline; I want a list like the one provided by this database, and, better yet, one I can highlight, copy, & paste into my library catalog's search box.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Positions: Museums and Crew

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is seeking to fill the following vacancies:

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, seeks a manager, deadline for applications, July 8, 2008.

In addition, the Australian National Maritime Museum is offering berths on five voyage legs on the replica of James Cook's Endeavour.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef by the Institute For Figuring
photo © The IFF - by Alyssa Gorelick

The IFF describes the Crochet Coral Reef as a "testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world," but it is so much more. A beautiful work of art, it is not just raising awareness of the impact of climate change on normally invisible marine landscapes, it is inspiring others to create marine art. This is done not just through an ambitious exhibit schedule, but through workshops where one can learn the handicraft of crochet--with a dash of the science and mathematics necessary to create the hyperbolic shapes that evoke marine creatures.

Now there are crochet reefs in Chicago and New York, and if you can't make it to London to see the current exhibit, you can see the Crocheted Reef and Anemone Garden created by the 7th graders at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto among the current exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

Want to get involved? No reef project near you? Information on involvement in the IFF Project is at the bottom of the reef's online gallery page, and the workshops page includes links to an introduction to hyperbolic crochet and to publications on the topic. It's a great time to get started, since the reef will be exhibited in its entirety in Los Angeles in 2009, along with other crochet reefs from around the world, in a show entitled, “I’ve Got A Coral Reef Too!”

And while you're thinking about human impacts on the oceans, have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? The impact of plastics on the oceans? Ever considered diverting plastics from the waste stream by using them in art works?

Above image used with the kind permission of the IFF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, that welcomes members and donations.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A museum within a museum

According to a recent press release, the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum Collection has been relaunched in a permanent exhibition, Tapestry of Treasures: The First Nautical Museum.

The Collection's custodian, the South Australian Maritime Museum, describes the collection as a "museum within a museum," as its displayed with its original handwritten labels in Victorian cases. Created largely from seafarers' treasures and curios, this collection illustrates the importance of maritime transportation in the formation of museums and educational collections during the past two centuries as well as the stories of the people who passed through Port Adelaide. As a layer of contemporary interpretation will be added, it sounds like an important stop for those not only interested in maritime history, but for students of museology as well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

HMS Ontario

A few words in the TimesOnline article about the recent discovery of the wreck of the HMS Ontario, Lake gives up ghostly British warship of 1780, caught my eye:

The search for HMS Ontario began in earnest in 2005 after they obtained documents about the loss from British and Canadian archives.

Was careful research the key to their success? I'd like to think so.

Described as an "archeaological miracle" by Arthur Britton Smith, author of The Legend of the Lake, the news accounts all agree on the remarkable amount of preservation at the site--there are even intact windows on the vessel. (See for a remarkable photo gallery of wreck images, drawings, and a model of the ship.) But few news sources go into detail about the future of the site, which is the final resting place of 120 men, women, and children, including prisoners, who went down in the autumn gale in 1780--however the BBC does. Not only is their coverage excellent including links to relevant resources, but they do report on a current plan for the future of the site, one that is often not in the popular imagination as a plan for our maritime heritage: a war grave.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Underwater archaeology for the non-specialist

Thanks for the kind words, Kelly! Of course, I can't resist talking about something to read:

"Did Humans Colonize the World by Boat?" is the title of the article by Heather Pringle in the online edition of the June 2008 issue of Discover Magazine. Entitled "Kelp Highways" in the print edition, it's worth looking at online for links to a wealth of supporting information that is entirely absent in the hardcopy.

The article is not only a great overview of the previously held theories of human migrations in the Pacific rim that are being challenged by new archaeological evidence, but why that archaeological evidence has been lacking--how the field of underwater archaeology is enhancing maritime history by expanding beyond shipwreck remains.

The Editor is a Slacker - Long Live the Editor!!

Heather Hernandez of San Francisco Maritime, and long-time contributor to Maritime Compass, has recently agreed to take over the editorship of Maritime Compass. She has in fact already done so and I haven't even posted this in a timely manner.

Heather has been contributing fascinating book and web site reviews for the past year, and I'm sure will bring great energy and insight into coming posts.

I'll still be around - certainly reading every post, and adding a few on occasion but other duties have been overwhelming lately so...Take It Away Heather!!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Position: Temporary Collections Assistant

Museums Service of the Lancaster Maritime Museum in Lancaster (UK) is seeking a temporary collections documentation assistant (maternity cover). Deadline for applications: Thursday, June 26, 2008.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Touching history

Dennis Overbye's article Among Scientific Treasures, a Gem in yesterday's NY Times is not just about the auction of Dr. Richard Green's books, but about the joy of holding these books--books that changed the world. Among the items to be sold are a first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica and Nicolaus Copernicus's book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium.

Ever since I read about De Revolutionibus in Owen Gingerich's The Book Nobody Read, I've hoped to hold a 16th century copy--that hasn't yet happened, but seeing the photograph of Dr. Green's copy may be as close as I'll come. The photo conveys the fragility of this copy whose survival was by no means assured. This photo and many others from the collection are also part of the article's slide show, which includes the gorgeous color image of Harmonia Macrocosmica--follow the "More photos" link to see it.

I also highly recommend Gingerich's book. And if you haven't held books from the 16th century or earlier, I highly recommend that, too. It's a singular experience to be able to handle something that old and, if you're lucky, to be able to take some time to read it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Position: President and Director

Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea, located in Mystic, Connecticut, currently is seeking a new President and Director. Driven by the exciting goals of the planned transformation of the Mystic Seaport Museum, this individual will leverage the foundation built to date by the Board and the retiring President, Rear Admiral Douglas H. Teeson, to take the Museum to the next level.

Founded in 1929, Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. With an operating budget of over $20 million and a full-time staff of over 200 people, the Museum attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually. Mystic Seaport’s assets include four National Historic Landmark vessels, an operational preservation shipyard, an interactive 19th century New England seafaring village, the Nation’s most extensive (non-Naval) maritime library, and the famous Rosenfeld collection of yachting and maritime photography. Mystic Seaport also offers educational programs for all ages, ranging from summer day camp and sailing lessons to higher education programs, including the prestigious undergraduate level Maritime Studies Program in partnership with Williams College. It is not only an institution of great historical prestige but one that is also embarking on very exciting changes for the future to better serve its many local, national and global constituencies.

The new President and Director will work with the Board of Trustees and oversee the senior staff of the Museum. Additionally, the President and Director will externally serve as the key representative to the community and world for Mystic Seaport. He/she will have responsibility to create and sustain a stronger base of financial support across a very broad set of constituencies, with the goal to solidify and strengthen the institution’s leadership role in education and other museum core functions.

Given the breadth and diversity of responsibilities and constituencies involved in this position, the President and Director must be a talented, experienced museum, education or fundraising professional who is a proven leader with a strong development record or obvious potential to be a skilled fundraiser. The successful candidate will have the respect of his professional peers, and should possess a commitment to education and the role of museums as public institutions. He/she must possess a talent in working with business and community leaders in groups and on a one-to-one basis. For additional information on Mystic Seaport, please visit All nominations and applications should be sent to: Mystic Seaport Museum is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer