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

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

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pirate festivals

I've just learned about a truly fascinating expression of maritime culture: the Northern California Pirate Festival. And it's not the only one; helps you "Find Your Place to Plunder!"

Unfortunately I haven't yet made it to a pirate festival, but it sounds like a great way to truly explore the ways that historical pirates are imagined in popular culture (while enjoying good food and music!) Is it historical reenactment? Living history? Does it matter?