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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Singing down memory lane

I had heard that Amazon was selling mp3s of out of print albums, so I took a look to see if they had any shanties. What I found inspired this rather blatantly commercial post:

Boy. Have they got shanties! They have shanties in English, German, and even "Ali alo" in French. You can hear a sample of the song before purchasing (click the little white "play" arrow in the gray box to the left of the song), and some albums have a "Preview all" link at the top of the list of songs. You can buy an mp3 album, or buy just one song (most songs are around $.99). Searching by genre is very general; the albums I saw were listed as "Traditional Folk" or even, "Folk > General." So searching by a known artist or possible title keywords might be a better bet.

And the best news of all: the mp3s are DRM free. From the Amazon music download FAQ:

Digital Rights Management or "DRM" commonly refers to software that is designed to control or limit how a file can be played, copied, downloaded, shared, or accessed. DRM-free means that the MP3 files you purchase from do not contain any software that will restrict your use of the file.

As a hint of how cool I think this is, I have to tell you that I'm an ardent supporter of local, independent music stores (for me, that means Down Home Music and Amoeba Music), so it takes a lot for me to give some free advertising to Amazon--it takes my being thrilled to be able to buy DRM-free out of print music. DRM-free because it tends to work better on my devices, including my mp3 player (a Sandisk, because it can record radio shows while I'm in meetings!). And you can shop Amazon somewhat mindfully--there are many nonprofits which have a link to Amazon that gives them a portion of the purchase price (from Amazon's cut--not yours).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Position: The Naval History Society Collection at the New-York Historical Society

Full-Time Project Archivist for 9 Months
Collection Description: The Naval History Society Collection (NHSC) is a compilation of materials that document historical events in American and British maritime and naval history. The collection is comprised of fifty distinct collections of Navy related individuals or ships, along with two collections of organizational records of the Naval History Society. It includes approximately 78 linear feet of correspondence, letterbooks, journals and diaries, lectures, essays, account books, biographical writings, genealogical information, scrapbooks, orders, notes, articles and clippings, photographs, manuscripts, and ships’ logbooks relating to naval history. The collection brings together the documents of famous individuals as well as the letters and records of lesser known enlisted men.
Job Description: The New-York Historical Society is seeking an experienced archivist to process the Naval History Society Collection. The archivist on this grant will begin by surveying the fifty individual collections of the NHSC and consulting with the Chief Conservator regarding any preservation issues. The project archivist will then arrange, describe, and re-house the fifty distinct collections into acid-free materials. MARC records and finding aids will be created for the general collection as well as for select individual collections. The finding aids will then be marked up in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and placed online with other N-YHS finding aids.
Qualifications: M.L.S. from an A.L.A.-accredited library school or M.A. with an archival concentration or archival management certificate. One to two years of archival processing experience. Excellent interpersonal skills, flexibility, and the ability to work with people as well as independently. Experience using MARC format and Encoded Archival Description (EAD). Dedication to archival principles, practices, and ethics.
To Apply: Send cover letter, résumé and the names of three references by mail or fax (applications sent by e-mail will not be reviewed) to:
Jean Ashton
Vice President and Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Fax: (646) 293-9409
Please, no phone calls.

Meet the Author

Inspired by Heather's recent posting on author Trevor Corson, I attended a talk/book signing by him. If you get the chance, definitely go! He talked about both his books, The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket and The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean (P.S.). But even more impressive were the videos. Lets just say, all is not fair in Lobster love and war, but it's fun to watch.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Position: Archives and Library Director

Independence Seaport Museum is seeking a full-time Director of the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. The position reports directly to the Museum President and supervises one full-time professional assistant, one full-time temporary project archivist, volunteers and interns. The archives and library director is responsible for managing a repository of approximately 4,000 linear feet of archival collections and research library of 15,000 volumes.

Duties: Candidate will be required to arrange, describe and create electronic catalog records in OCLC for archival collection; provide reference service to the public; build archival and printed collections through purchase and donations; plan research, write labels and design exhibits for the department’s exhibit areas and Museum’s website; envision and lead development of automation and digitization projects; plan processing, conservation, cataloging and other projects, and work with the development department to write grants seeking project funding; perform copy and original cataloging for printed materials; serve on exhibition and planning committees, and work with other Museum departments on institution-wide projects; manage department budget; report to Archives and Curatorial Committee of the Board; represent the Museum at Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries and other meetings, and participate in consortium projects and; give presentations about library collections for prospective donors and VIPs.

Preferred Qualifications: Qualifications: • M.L.S. or M. A. in History with certificate in archives management. • Three to five years experience in special collections library or research setting • Formal training in archival practice and care in handling unique material • Facility with OCLC mixed materials cataloging and standard professional tools and programs • Ability to work both independently and with the public • Knowledge of American and maritime history and technology preferred.

Application Instructions: To apply, please submit via email an electronic letter of interest and resume to: or mail to Archives & Library Director Search, Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106. No phone calls please. Deadline: February 15, 2008.

Behind the Scene Tours

The last few months have been busy ones. What with the holidays and sudden rise in people wanting "Behind the Scene Tours" of our Collections Vaults. Since moving into the new facility 7 years ago, tour requests have been steady but slow, maybe one a month. Suddenly they've just exploded. Weekly groups of 35, 60 and now 80 NEED to get into places built to safely secure art, objects, photographs, rare books, and manuscripts in humidity and temperature controlled environments.

Is anyone else experiencing this? In early January there was a flood of announcements on new exhibits, and a lengthy discussion of whether or not to allow grade-school classes into the reference rooms, but I've not noticed anyone talking about, or offering this type of "Behind the Scenes Tours".

Don't get me wrong, it's great to take them IN. It never fails to increase my appreciate for the Collections. Just this week alone I opened a random drawer and found over 30 Inuit animal carvings. They are just amazingly animated! Cute even. People are always surprised and impressed by the immensity and range of the collections, and it feels good to share, but the point of having that material is also to preserve it, and I wonder how this effects that? We've decided on a ratio of one staff member for every 10 tour-ists, but is that enough? We're also considering charging? mostly as a means of encouraging people to appreciate the experience, but do we charge everyone? What about fellow museums? etc. And what are they doing? Do other museums provide these tours? Under what circumstances? for Whom? Do you charge?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Calling all writers

Trevor Corson's blog, The Scrawling Claw, is one of my must-reads. I really enjoyed his book The Zen of Fish and was delighted to find that the writing on his blog is also entertaining and informative. Typically he writes about seafood and fisheries issues, but he lately wrote about his experiences at the Key West Literary Seminar.

Are you a writer? A maritime historian? Do you write historical fiction? If so, check out the 2009 Key West Seminar, "Historical Fiction," when they "will be including writers of historical fiction and writers of history (a.k.a. historians)." Speakers will include Andrea Barrett, whose novel The Voyage of the Narwhal remains one of my favorites.

And if you go, drop us a line!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Literary Lotus

On Literary Lotus, Christine Thomas writes about a wide range of topics, including the maritime world. She recently posted the last entry in a book of the sea roundup, her review of Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors: The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific, edited by K. R. Howe. Also, don't miss the links on the blog, which include her reviews of maritime books published elsewhere.

And do check out the older posts; Christine is generous in sharing her reviews, interviews, and information about the books mentioned by her and others. If you're looking for something to read, for yourself or someone else, she even posts gift guides. She'll guide you to books about the sea that feature topics other than explorations or voyages: legends, traditional navigation, surfing, poetry, and much more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sing me Ishmael

Moby Dick has been called the greatest American novel, and adaptations have included films, cartoons, comic books, musicals--and now, another opera. (In 2004, Moby Dick: Scenes From an Imaginary Opera premiered in Princeton, New Jersey.) This time, Gene Scheer is writing the text. How will they handle the whale on stage? They're not telling!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Position: Mystic Seaport

Collections Access Assistant

Part-time (21/wk) temporary, entry-level position to provide intellectual, physical and electronic access to the Collections of Mystic Seaport and assist in the creation and organization of maritime-related internet resources.

The successful candidate will demonstrate an ability to participate successfully in a team setting, have a strong belief in providing superior customer service, and possess excellent organizational skills and computer literacy. Knowledge of Microsoft Access, SQL, search strategies/information retrieval (Voyager, XG, card files, etc.) or information science desirable. Duties include assisting patrons, staff and volunteers with Collections, proof datasets for accuracy and create new ones, scan/archive collection-related image, locate and organize maritime related internet resources. For information send an email to To obtain an application visit our website or call Human Resources 860.572.5346. To apply, send cover letter, resume and names of three references by Feb 8, 2008 to: Mystic Seaport Museum, PO Box 6000, Mystic, CT 06355, Attn: Human Resources. Mystic Seaport is an AA/EOE employer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Position: Collections Manager

Independence Seaport Museum

Location: Philadelphia, PA USA

Description: Responsibilities include, but may not be limited to, the creation and maintenance of relevant recordkeeping systems, organization and housing of objects in collection storage areas, and observation and care of all collection needs whether on exhibit or in storage. The Collections Manager reports to the Curator. Tasks and Duties Registration: All aspects of the processing, cataloging of the collections; Management of the collections management database; Manages loan agreements and condition reports and insurance; Maintain the disaster preparedness plan for the collections; Manages ethical and legal issues related to the collections; Risk management including disaster mitigation planning , security, integrated pest management, insurance; Manages rights and reproduction requests. Collections: Storage of collections and the implementation of re-housing projects; Monitors environmental conditions and coordinates with the Facilities Dept.; Monitors the security and condition of the collections on display and in storage; Coordinates conservation program and long-range collections care planning; Tracks and documents conservation proposals and treatments; Maintains records related to collections care. Exhibitions: Maintains exhibits and coordinates repair of interactives; Assists with preparation and installation of loan and permanent exhibitions and their maintenance; Manages packing of artifacts and shipping arrangements. General: Directs volunteers and interns in the curatorial department; Assist in the development of departmental and inter-departmental policies. M-F, 9-5, some evening and weekends. Salary based on experience, competitive benefits.

Preferred Qualifications: Applicants must possess either an M.A. in museum studies or a related field with a minimum of three years professional museum experience, or a B.A. in American or maritime history, anthropology, archaeology, museum studies or a related field followed by five years of professional experience in object care and conservation at a museum. Must be organized, detail oriented, show measurable initiative, have good interpersonal skills and demonstrable writing skills. Position requires substantial practical knowledge and ability with collection management software. Ability to operate hand tools and developed skills with the installation and maintenance of exhibitions is a plus. Must have a valid driver’s license.

Application Instructions: Please respond with cover letter and resume by 1/18/08 via mail or e-mail, no phone calls: Craig Bruns, Curator Independence Seaport Museum 211 S. Columbus Blvd. Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Unfortunate Malefactor

There are some treasures of maritime history within online collections related to the law. You can find a broadside describing the trial and execution of William Donovan for mutiny and murder at Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders, Harvard Law School Library's Crime Broadsides Project.

And, from there, don't miss the link they provide to the online Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674 to 1834--you can search the proceedings by crime, and to find "Piracy" or "Returning from transportation," pop open the "Specific Criminal Act" list. And to search for ships, use the keyword search option and pop open the "Search in" list and select "Crime location"--you can even just put in the word "ship!" (And Rumpole fans, take note, you can turn up Timsons if you search for them by "Defendent surname!")

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Job Position: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Acting Curator of History New York, NY
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Applications Contact person: Lesley Klein
Application due date: 2008/1/15
Salary range: competitive hourly rate
Web Address:
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is seeking a person to be an acting Curator of History, a 40 hour/week consultant position that may lead to a full-time position in late 2008. The ideal candidate will have a Master's degree in history with a knowledge of twentieth-century American history and three to five years experience in a museum, historical society or similar position dealing with the collection, display and public interpretation of artifacts. Knowledge of American military, political and naval history, and naval aviation are additional assets. The acting Curator of History will actively work with both the museum's Chief Curator and Collection Manager in selecting artifacts for the museum's grand reopening in Fall 2008 and, if chosen for the full time position, will work with both Chief Curator and the Collection Manager in acquiring new artifacts for future display and researching the permanent collection. Competitive contractor rate. Competitive salary and benefits if the acting Curator of History gets converted to a full time employee.
Resumes should be submitted to:

New York Fishing Company

Many today in history sites are announcing that the New York Fishing Company was the first company to be chartered in what became the United States (on January 8, 1675) but there is some debate about this. From The Modern Corporation and American Political Thought: Law, Power, and Ideology by Scott R. Bowman, 1996, p. 312:

Depending on the classification employed by scholars, the number of colonial business corporations will vary slightly. For example, Simeon Baldwin identifies six, Joseph Davis identifies seven, and between them they list a total of eight such corporations. Both authors include the Free Society of Traders, which although chartered in England by William Penn in 1682, was intended to be an American corporation. The Free Society of Traders appears to be the first colonial business corporation, if one excludes the English trading companies that founded many of the colonies. (Baldwin lists the New York Fishing Company [1675] as the first, but Davis points out that this company was not incorporated.)

Generally I find the pursuit of maritime superlatives like "firsts" tiresome, however, in this case, my curiosity was sparked--I wondered about the extent of maritime influence on colonial business ventures and went on to learn more.

To continue on this topic, and follow the citations to Baldwin's and Davis' books, you can find the above quoted page on limited preview at Google Books (or follow the links there to get the book from your local library or to purchase it.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

George MacDonald Fraser, R.I.P.

The author of The Pyrates and the beloved Flashman series died Wednesday at age 82. Obituaries are available at The Telegraph, Guardian, and the BBC.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Update on the Free China

If you read Hans Konrad Van Tilburg's new book,
Chinese Junks on the Pacific: Views from a Different Deck
you may be interested in the San Jose Mercury News article from Dec. 22 about the effort to bring the junk Free China back to life.

And check out the video and audio links that accompany the article!