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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, on New Years' eve, the treasure ship, the Takara-Bune, will sail into port with the Shichi Fukujin on board. Objects associated with the voyage of these deities occur in many types of collections, and the above image is one of many available at the Wikimedia Commons.

The Hull Museums also have a very informative article, Takarabune and Seven Lucky Gods of Japan, accompanying beautiful, detailed images of their carved group.

Another beautiful image available online is the Bolton Museums and Archive Service's netsuke boat.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas on an American warship

(It's the lower image on this reproduction of the New York Tribune--do follow the link to see a larger version.)

From the Library of Congress' photostream on Flickr.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More dazzle

My thanks to Theo Van Doren for bringing Bobolink Book's Dazzle Camouflage site to my attention. The site is by Roy R. Behrens and promotes his new Camoupedia : a compendium of research on art, architecture and camouflage. The site links to many resources (including those previously mentioned on MaritimeCompass), having to do with dazzle camouflage as well as camouflage in general, in the cultural and natural world. If you're interested in exploring the topic, don't miss the link in one of the the little green boxes--it's to a bibliography compiled by Behrens.

And be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will find little gray numbers--the site continues for four pages. The second page is especially interesting, outlining the steps in designing ship camouflage, and linking to a list of people involved in camouflage. The next pages are of further maritime interest--even the last page, with its discussion of nature, ends up returning to the topic of dazzle.

Thanks again, Theo!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Larry T. Nix on books for sailors

I read about Larry T. Nix's wonderful post, Books for Sailors, in the Nov. 18, 2009 issue of American Libraries Direct. This post appeared on his Library History Bluff blog, and is a wonderful overview of great sources on navy ship's libraries--following the links will take you to thorough resources, rich with footnotes, as well as images from Nix's own postcard collection, and makes for an excellent starting point for investigating libraries for U.S. sailors.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A. Hyatt Verrill

My thanks to Doug Frizzle for writing in about his blog Stillwater Woods, which contains some of A. Hyatt Verrill's works. Verrill wrote on many topics, including those of maritime interest, such as Knots, Splices and Rope Work (available from Project Gutenberg). Further resources on Verrill are listed in the Wikipedia article, including a long list of his works and a link to biographical information.

Monday, November 23, 2009

150 Years of On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published on Thursday 24 November 1859. I'm going to mark this significant anniversary by reading two books:

Today I'm reminded of the impact that just a few voyages can have on our culture--even the impact of just one person aboard just one vessel--and of the rich maritime history that often underlies, and inspires, our other endeavors.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Imperator on Flickr

The Library of Congress has been contributing photos from the George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress) to the Flickr Commons, which include many wonderful photos of the Hamburg America Line's SS Imperator from June 1913, which include close details as well as grand images of the entire vessel.

These photos will no doubt interest many, as the Imperator was later well-known in the English-speaking world when she served as the Cunard's flagship, the RMS Berengaria.

NMM's expanded prints & images sites

My thanks to Douglas McCarthy, Picture Library Manager at NMM in Greenwich, for writing about the expansion and improvement of are now over 14,000 images online in revamped categories and in featured collections.

Check out the "Art of World War II" to find Norman Wilkinson's works, online for the first time ever, as well as works by other artists such as Charles Pears, Eric Ravilious and Richard Eurich. If you'd like a broad overview, select the "Bestsellers" collection for some delightful browsing.

But wait! There's more!

The sister site,, has new content as well in two new collections, Sons of Sindbad: dhow voyages in Arabia, 1938-39 with the striking photography of Alan Villiers and Caricature & satire, a collection of satirical prints from the 18th and 19th century, which, according to Douglas, parodies "everyone from ordinary seamen to Prime Ministers and the Astronomer Royal!" I really like the long captions that accompany the larger version of an image--they often explain the humor which wasn't readily apparent to me!

So if you're doing research, or even seeking the perfect gift for a maritime enthusiast, do check out these wonderful expanded collections.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


L'Espérence, appartenant à Mr. Vitel. (1862)

Hand colored lithograph from Monographie de l'oeuvre de Bernard Palissy : suivie d'un choix de ses continuateurs ou imitateurs.

Part of the NYPL Digital Gallery, which also participates in the Flickr Commons.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dreaming the ferry terminal

Claudia La Rocco's article in the New York Times, A reason to miss the boat: dance at the ferry terminal, begins with enchantment:

Ferry terminals are surprisingly dreamy spaces.

Her article reviews a site specific dance piece, "Halt!" by Pavel Zustiak, with such poetry that you feel you are watching the dancers emerge from the crowds at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. Her writing made me stop and think about the role of the ferry terminal--a portal, a transitional space. She states that Pavel Zustiak often explores the line between private and public space, and what better place to explore that line than the portal between the shore and the water?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amundsen photo discovered

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has a great article by Damien Larkins, Rare South Pole Photo Brought to Light. The photo is not just a newly discovered image of Amundsen's 1911 South Pole expedition, but is the only print in the world taken from the original negatives of the event.

What makes the story even more compelling is the process of discovery--through the National Library of Australia's digitization efforts, Harald Ostgaard Lund from the Norwegian National Library (pictured on the ABC News blog entry) was able to make the discovery.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Galilean Nights

Tonight through Saturday (Oct. 22-24, 2009), people around the globe will be looking to the skies to see what Galileo saw. Part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the focus for the event, Galilean Nights, will be observing what Galileo observed--the beauty of Jupiter, its moons, our moon, and other wonders of the night sky that attracted Galileo's gaze. By seeing what Galileo saw over 400 years ago, this moment of history, when the evidence that the Earth was not the center of the universe, can be relived.

If you've never seen the brilliant jewels seemingly strung on an invisible line that are the moons of Jupiter through even the smallest of telescopes, I strongly encourage you to seek out one of the Galilean Nights events near you or to participate in one of the remote observing events. To look at the planets and stars is one way to understand our position in the universe, and to really grasp that we are poised on top of a big ball around which sailors navigate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dazzle camouflage

The Fleet Library at the Rhode Island School of Design has a wonderful online exhibit of Dazzle Camouflage. The images and plans were donated to them by Maurice L. Freedman, a U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation camofleur. The images are wonderful--all the ones I looked at were scans of full plans sheets. According to the site:

Our collection consists of 455 plans (includes port and starboard sides of a ship) and 20 photos. There are 10 types of merchant ships represented with multiple designs for each of those ships.

So the online images are just a taste of the rich resources held by the library.

The site is a little resource intensive, so might not work well at slower connection speeds. Also, the links are not readily apparent--for example, go ahead and click on "What is Dazzle?" as it's as live a link as the "Dazzle Camouflage Blog" or the individual images, even though it doesn't turn your arrow into a hand (at least under Windows, in Firefox & IE).

(As far as I can tell, the Fleet Library was named after FleetBoston Financial Corp., rather than "fleet" in the maritime sense.)

My thanks to MonkeyFist at the Cascobayboaters blog--it was their post that brought this site to my attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Semester at sea article

Ever wondered about combining a love of being aboard ships with a love librarianship? Many people do! An excellent article about being a Semester at Sea librarian was published in Virginia Libraries (Apr.-June 2009), Treasures found by seafaring librarians, (.pdf version) by Mary Johnston. (The article is reprinted on ALA's blog.)

The article makes great reading, but also has an extensive list of citations to other articles by Semester at Sea librarians and to resources for those who might be interested in pursuing such a job.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Pirate woman & FictionMags

Originally published in All-Story Weekly, Captain Dingle's The Pirate Woman is now available at Project Gutenberg.

If you're interested in reading more of Aylward Edward Dingle's works, or other works published in the story magazines, check out the wonderful FictionMags Index. Organizing magazines and stories, it's an invaluable resource for locating poetry and serialized fiction in many genres, including maritime adventures, reaching back to the 19th century and covering classic pulp fiction titles. And don't miss the links section if you want to dive in further--they even list dealers.

(My thanks to Dan Krummes for introducing me to FictionMags!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mystic Seaport's Image Archive

On Sept. 9, 2009, our very own Kelly announced the new Collections and Research Image Archive on Mystic's excellent News from the Collections blog. I gave it a few days before checking it out--I've found that rushing to a new site on announcement day makes for slow browsing!

I like the layout of the Image Archive very much. Right at the top of the page are phone & email contacts for assistance. I do wonder a little at the title; "Collections" and "Research" images? Don't all the images in the archive come from the collections, and isn't a "research image" any image that you're using for research? (But I split hairs.)

First I followed a suggested browse topic, choosing "Signs and posters." On the next screen, I like the link to switch to a gallery view very much--for casual browsing, this is great. I can't tell you much more about gallery view, however, because even though I'm on a rather high speed connection, only 25 thumbnails loaded, with what are apparently catalog numbers interspersed among the images like so:

2004.83.1 2004.83.10 2004.83.100 2004.83.101 2004.83.102 2004.83.103 2004.83.104 2004.83.105 2004.83.106 2004.83.107 2004.83.108 2004.83.109 2004.83.11 2004.83.110 2004.83.111 2004.83.112 2004.83.113 2004.83.114 2004.83.115 2004.83.116 2004.83.117 2004.83.118 2004.83.119 2004.83.12 2004.83.120 2004.83.13 2004.83.14 2004.83.15 2004.83.16 2004.83.17 2004.83.18 2004.83.19 2004.83.2 2004.83.20 2004.83.21 2004.83.22 2004.83.23 2004.83.24 2004.83.25 2004.83.26 2004.83.27 2004.83.28 2004.83.29 2004.83.30 2004.83.31

No amount of reloading would correct the problem (at least for me today with Firefox). I suspect that you wouldn't have this problem if you waited for the previous page (non-gallery view) with the columnar display to fully load, but who waits for pages to fully load when you're interested in clicking away?

I backed up to try another category--"Bicycles?!?" Yes--a maritime museum with images of bicycles! And much, much more. The images are all extremely well cataloged with extensive descriptions. The descriptions are so thorough, that you may wish to use the "find" feature in your browser to zero in on keywords for which you were searching or browsing.

The search interface is a bit tricky, however.
This search retrieved images: "charles w. morgan"
But this search retrieved nothing: charles AND morgan
And this search retrieved yet another image not seen in the first search: charles morgan
There's no "advanced search" or search help available that I could find, so play around with the searches.

Finally, if the Mystic Seaport logo on the upper link were actually a link to Mystic's homepage, that would be lovely--if the Image Archive were my entryway to their site, as it was today, I'd like their main page to be just a click away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the Origin of Clockwork, Perpetual Motion Devices, and the Compass

"Figure 11.—Geared Astrolabe by Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr of Isfahan, A.D. 1221-1222."--p. 98, of: On the Origin of Clockwork, Perpetual Motion Devices, and the Compass by Derek J. de Solla Price.

Originally published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1959 as Contributions from The Museum of History and Technology, Paper 6, now available at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Godrevy Lighthouse

Recently the Guardian published another in its "Top 10s" series, Margaret Drabble's top ten literary landscapes, which includes Godfrey Lighthouse, thought to have inspired Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Drabble's descriptions of the places are lovely--be sure to read about Godfrey Lighthouse at no. 7.

If you're interested in a little armchair travel to this beautiful spot, visit Look Around Cornwall's site and be patient--wait for the large image to load and begin playing to enjoy a lovely 360 degree panorama. (For more information on controlling the panorama, click on the little "i" icon on the lower left of the image.) And do enlarge it to full screen (the control on the far right).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The pearl from the black dragon

"A fisherboy dived into the water and brought up a pearl from beneath the chin of a black dragon," facing page 138 in:

The Chinese Fairy Book
Editor: Wilhelm, Richard, 1873-1930
Illustrator: Hood, George Washington, 1869-1949
Translator: Martens, Frederick Herman, 1874-1932

New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company, c1921

Now available at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Garbage Patch updates: Project Kaisei & SETI

On Monday I was delighted to see the Kaisei sailing past my window on her way home from her research voyage to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The San Jose Mercury News published an article this morning by Paul Rogers covering her return, the results of her voyage, and the next steps in testing the samples of plastics. (More information is also available on the Project Kaisei website.)

Then yesterday I heard an excellent interview with Charles Moore, who discovered the patch in 1997, on the episode Earth, a millennium hence of one of my favorite radio programs, "Are We Alone?" from the SETI Institute.

An interesting subject addressed by both the newspaper article and the interview is plastic's role in transmitting pollutants up the marine food chain--to humans. And Charles Moore's opinion of our archaeological future is also intriguing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PRI & NPR on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

On August 21, PRI's radio show, The World, featured the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on its Geo Quiz. The story makes great listening and their website supplements the audio with a photo from the patch and a map of the location of the North Pacific Gyre, the phenomenon where the trash is accumulating.

The story also features an interview with Miriam Goldstein aboard the research vessel New Horizon, which hosts the team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, out studying the patch. She also contributes to the Seaplex blog about their research, and she was also a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday--audio and a transcript of that interview are available on NPR's site, and links to different resources are on Science Friday's own site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bulwer-Lytton and the Old Salt Blog

I've always enjoyed the annual Bulwer-Lytton prize, and in reading about the 2009 winners came across the Old Salt Blog which has a delightful article, A salty dog wins the 2009 Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, highlighting the wonderful entries by David McKenzie and Dr. Sarah Cockram.

The rest of the blog, hosted by Rick Spilman, covers much of interest to MaritimeCompass readers, from current maritime news to museums, so I've added it to the resources on our site, and recommend it highly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Everyone who works at a museum; everyone who is at an organization that sells reproductions of collection images; everyone who purchases reproductions of images--pay attention. Click over to right now. Don't even waste time reading the rest of this post. Just go there. Check it out!

OK, I haven't actually ordered a print yet from this new site from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, but I have ordered a print from the Museum the past, and let me tell you, it wasn't this easy back then! Back then, in the dark ages, I wasn't even able to see the image I was ordering before it arrived.

This new site, from the Museum that brings you the excellent, is a destination for those that want a hardcopy reproduction. They have prints, framed prints, canvases, even framed canvases available. The search interface is excellent, so if you know you're looking for something to hold in your hands or hang on your wall, just head to; if you need an image electronically, then is still your destination.

As far as I can tell (and I count on Douglas McCarthy, the Picture Library Manager to correct me if I'm wrong) there are still more images in (for example, a purse from the Franklin expedition is beautifully imaged in but not present in So for browsing and research, might still be the prime destination.

For the future, I hope we see a little link below the images in that says, "Order a print" to take one right to the image details/order page. Or, if permissions don't allow this, perhaps text that says, "Sorry, print orders for this image not available; would you like to see related images from that are available?" The "related images" link that appears with each image on is such a wonderful feature, it would be great to see it apprear not only within but into from images in In the far future, perhaps the sites could be integrated; in the very far future, perhaps after one has selected "Order a copy," one could pick a .jpg of the image, or a framed print, or a tshirt, or a book bag (a la CafePress or Zazzle).

So why not start your Christmas shopping now? Why not celebrate the winter solstice with a lovely print as a gift? Start browsing the collections on the left; I really like Staff Favourites.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Marques d'impressors = Printers' Devices

The Centre de Recursos per a l'Aprenentatge i la Investigació has put up Marques d'impressors, a wonderful database of printers devices, which include some with maritime themes, with searching available on printer, device/motto, ensign, city, mark term, or keyword in Catalan, Spanish, and English.

This device is that of Simone Tini.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Northwest Passage news

If you've been following the Open Passage Expedition, or the news about the Beluga Fraternity, you may be interested in the reader feedback that the NY Times has published on their Dot Earth blog as well as following the Open Passage Expedition on Pipes.

And if you read the NY Times article in print, do check it out online; not only does the article contain links to resources to allow further exploration of the topic, they revise and correct the article in response to reader feedback.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Prismatarium

Juli Carter took the time to comment on a previous post about the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, alerting me to her lovely photos of the ceiling of the room that Hilaire Hiler called the Prismatarium. Juli generously granted permission to reproduce her photos here, and writes:

"Alerted by recent pictures in the Guess Where SF Flickr pool and subsequent discussion, a friend and I made a special trip to see the newly cleaned and restored Maritime Museum (formerly Aquatic Bathhouse). Everything about it is spectacular: the architecture, the murals, the view towards Alcatraz...

The Prismatarium was empty of exhibits, full of echoes and shade. These pictures show the light fixture at the center of the circular room, with the color wheel that extends out to the windows, in natural light (with the windows blocked to preserve the art) and with the exposure digitally manipulated."

Juli's photo of the ceiling in natural light:

And Juli's digitally manipulated photo:

It is a fascinating room, and these photos show only the center point of the large, colorful ceiling. In Aquatic Park Building Decoration, Hilaire Hiler the room, originally "The Ladies Lounge," and this ceiling fixture are described:

At the opposite end of the Portico is another circular room which is used as a Ladies' Lounge. The form of this room made it appropriate for the decoration which consists of a color circle covering the entire ceiling. A moving lighting fixture containing lights in the color of the Physical Primaries makes it possible to give striking demonstrations on the relationship of color and light. Charts showing the Psychological the Pigment Primaries [sic], and the Solar Spectrum, etc. adorn the walls and make the room a veritable full size schema of the world of color in outline form, which its designer, Hilaire Hiler, calls a "Prismatarium" functioning in relation to the world of color much as a Planetarium does for the heavens. These considerations in no way interfere with the function of the room as mentioned above, as the fondness of the Fair Sex for colors is too well known to merit discussion.

To see a couple of the "charts" mentioned above, go to the NPS Museum Collections catalog, and search: hilaire AND hiler AND painting

My thanks to Juli for her wonderful contributions to MaritimeCompass.

Photos © All rights reserved, Juli Carter,
Used with permission

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pacific Ocean evening, La Jolla Strand Park

It was a lovely vacation.

Photo: © All rights reserved, Paul Hernandez,, used with permission.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Brief hiatus

Just a short note that I'll be taking a couple of weeks off for vacation--rather than putting the blog on autopilot with no guarantee that I could keep abreast of comment moderation, I thought I'd interrupt our normal maritime topics with a personal note to let y'all know what's up. (I'm really excited--this is my first real vacation in years! I'll be enjoying some serious offline time.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Black Canada & the journey to freedom

Several things about Geoff Davies' article Exhibit illustrates slave trade's place in Maritime history are noteworthy, especially the quote from John Hennigar-Shuh, manager of development and partnerships at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic:

"There was for years a sense that the Maritime heritage of this province was owned by old white guys with beards," Hennigar-Shuh said.

“This exhibit helps us to underline for everyone who comes here that our history is diverse and marvellously complex, and is something that belongs to all of us.”

The exhibit features a beautiful freedom quilt, which is pictured in the article, made by the North Preston Senior Citizens Club.

Exhibit panels are available in the online version of the exhibit in .pdf; the exhibit is also available in French, En Route vers le Nord: Le voyage vers la liberté des Noirs du Canada.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

From National Geographic

I enjoyed reading Simon Worrall's article, Made in China, in the latest issue of National Geographic magazine. The concept of 'the maritime silk road' was new to me--and fascinating! The story of the shipwreck and its recovery is also engaging, as are Tony Law's photographs, which include that of the oldest intact cobalt-blue-and-white ceramic from China ever discovered.

If you're reading the article on their website, be sure to click over to the Photo Gallery: U.S. Marine Protected Areas. Like everything on their site, navigation is easy, even it takes a while for the page to load--it's worth the wait.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Replica trading raft

I read the Science Daily article about Professor Dorothy Hosler and her students' building of a raft to replicate those used in pre-Columbian Pacific trade with interest. (My interest was sparked by reading Charles Mann's excellent book, 1491: new revelations of the Americas before Columbus) I wanted to learn more--frankly, I wanted to see photos.

In the May 13, 2009 issue of MIT's Tech Talk are photos of the raft's test on the Charles River. (It's on the last page.)

The raft still has some more tests to undergo, but the article reports that so far it performed very well!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top 10 expatriate tales

The Guardian has a new top ten list, Malcolm Pryce's top 10 expatriate tales. The article opens with a mention of Pryce finishing his first novel on a cargo ship, coloring the whole list with the air of a sea voyage.

The list is wide-ranging, but of particular interest is no. 4, The Discovery of Tahiti; a journal of the second voyage of HMS Dolphin round the world under the command of Captain Wallis, RN, in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768, written by her master George Robertson.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Philosophical Transacations, vol. 1

Volume 1 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is now available on Project Gutenberg and makes for fascinating reading. "For Anno 1665, and 1666," it contains such maritime treasures as "An Appendix to the Directions for Seamen, bound for far Voyages," (from which the image at left was taken), "Of the New American Whale-fishing about the Bermudas," and "Certain Problems touching some Points of Navigation."

There are also discussions related to the making of telescopes and barometers, as well as articles related to the discovery of a "permanent Spott" on Jupiter, such as this one from the issue for "Munday, March 6. 1664/5:"

A Spot in one of the Belts of Jupiter.

The Ingenious Mr. Hook did, some moneths since, intimate to a friend of his, that he had, with an excellent twelve foot Telescope, observed, some days before, he than spoke of it, (videl. on the ninth of May, 1664, about 9 of the clock at night) a small Spot in the biggest of the 3 obscurer Belts of Jupiter, and that, observing it from time to time, he found, that within 2 hours after, the said Spot had moved from East to West, about half the length of the Diameter of Jupiter.

The Ingenious Mr. Hook indeed.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Conference and journal announcement

Massachusetts Maritime Academy will host a Maritime Conference in the Humanities Oct. 23-25, 2009.

The conference details are already up on their website as is the call for papers (deadline is July 1, 2009). Their CFP also mentions a new journal:

The Maritime Conference Program Committee invites individual paper proposals and full panels (three proposals and a chair) on any aspect of the individual's or civilization's relationship with the sea through literature, history, or culture. Papers or panels may address such areas as literary writers and the sea from any period in American or global history; exploration; whaling; merchant or naval history; personal narratives of life at sea; survival literature; war at sea; the visual artist and the sea; poetry and the sea; or any other subject addressing our engagement with the sea through the humanities.

Selected conference papers will be published in the premier issue of the Academy's new annual peer-reviewed journal, The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History, and Culture, forthcoming in 2010.

I look forward to seeing the journal!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sea chanties on June 5

The second episode of Voicebox will air on KALW on Friday night, June 5, 2009, from 10:00-11:00pm PST, and according to host Cloe Veltman's blog for the show:

This week, Chloe dives into the salty depths of maritime music to explore the voices of some of the world’s greatest sea chantey artists. Special guest Walter Askew, front man of the sea music band Salty Walt and the Rattlin’ Ratlines, sings live in the studio and explains that there’s more to sea music than “what shall we do with the drunken sailor.”

As far as I know, the show isn't podcast, so if you're interested, tune in--KALW's live stream is available in multiple formats.

TIA: I'm not just a fan of KALW, I'm a member. If you like what you hear, consider a donation (no matter how small--they really stretch their pennies) or look under the "Local" column on their homepage for other ways to support & connect to the station.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hodges painting acquired by Whitby

A watercolor by William Hodges, who sailed with Captain Cook, entitled "Matavai Bay," has been acquired by the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby (UK). The article about the painting has a lovely, large graphic of the painting, and the Culture24 article has some further details.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seas the Moment

The May 11, 2009 episode of "Are We Alone?," the science radio show from SETI, is all about how our oceans are changing. The show is rather folksy and chatty, as usual, but this episode, "Seas the Moment," is as educational as every episode that they air.

I enjoyed listening to Sylvia Earle, who is, according to the this episode's site, "Oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, founder of DeepSearch Foundation, and author of Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas (National Geographic Atlas)," and who, I believe, could make even the most complicated oceanographic concept understandable to even the smallest child. The show is well worth a listen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lost Franklin clock found

On is a Canwest News Service article by Randy Boswell, "Lost timepiece from Franklin Expedition found." The chronometer has "inexplicably surfaced" in Britain, and its story is fascinating. Boswell also reports that staff at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich are hurrying to unravel that mystery as quickly as possible, as the timepiece will be on display within days of this article's publication.

It might be worth watching the NMM's website for updates!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Aquatic Park Bathhouse murals

This view of the lobby of the Aquatic Park Bathhouse (also known as the Maritime Museum building) in San Francisco was taken by my talented coworker, Tim Campbell (and is posted here with his kind permission). The work on the conservation of Hilaire Hiler's murals progresses, and is a delight to behold--the colors on the cleaned portions of the murals are breathtaking.

More information on the larger Aquatic Park rehabilitation project is available at the San Francisco Maritime NHP's website, and more information on the building is at the Library of Congress' Built in America site, which presents the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, (1933-Present)--just search for: Aquatic Park Bathhouse

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lorri Glover on the Sea Venture

The Virginia Historical Society has put up Lorri Glover's recent Banner Series lecture, "The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America." (.mp3, ca. 40 min.) With Daniel Blake Smith, Lorri Glover is the author of The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown about the wreck of the Sea Venture in Bermuda in 1609, and its wide implications. Ms. Glover's lecture is entertaining and educational and just one of many history lectures available online from the Society.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has even more information on Jamestown and Bermuda, including the Sea Venture, on their Jamestown and Bermuda: Virginia Company Colonies site (mounted in conjunction with their exhibit which runs from March 1-October 15, 2009)--you can scroll down or use the left-bar navigation for links to relevant audio, video, and textual materials.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A look at nautical pulp fiction

It's a sunny day. You're reclining on a deck chair--possibly on the beach, possibly on the deck of a cruise ship making for an island port where the palm fronds sway in the cool breezes. Nap taken, you reach for one of the books nearby. Which would you rather read? Moby Dick, or "A lusty tale of the South Pacific ... The Strumpet Sea?" How about, "Adventurer, lover, rogue, spy--he was a Buccaneer Surgeon!" Do you want to find out "What makes Onionhead run? Food or sex?" Too romantic? Perhaps you'd rather try, "The adventures of George Abercrombie Fox--the toughest bastard in the Royal Navy!"

It's taken a long time, but best-sellers are making their way into research libraries, including ours. Public librarians have long known that these are the books in demand with the reading public, but it's taken longer for research libraries to realize that best-sellers, even pulp novels, have something to offer researchers.

How long? About a hundred and fifty years. Pulp fiction periodicals have been published since the mid-19th century, and the Library of Congress' Rare Book and Special Collections Division holds dime novels dating back to the 1860s. But scholarly attention has developed slowly...

This is the beginning of another article that I wrote for our Library Friends' Relative Bearings on the recently acquired Eberhardt Collection. You can read the rest of it in the .pdf version of the newsletter (p. 1 and 4).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mary Lee Fowler in D.C.

If you're in the Washington, D.C. (USA) area on Thursday, May 14, consider spending your lunch break at the Navy Memorial where Mary Lee Fowler will be discussing and signing her book, Full Fathom Five: a Daughter's Search. The event is free and open to the public, part of the Memorial’s "Authors on Deck" Series of Navy-related Book Lectures.

Ms. Fowler's book won Honorable Mention in Non-Fiction at the 2009 Maine Literature Awards--more information on her book and the event is available at the Navy Memorial's events site.

(My thanks to André Sobocinski for sending the lecture announcement.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indigenous boats blog

My thanks to Bob Holtzman for writing to tell me about his wonderful blog, Indigenous Boats: Small Craft Outside the Western Tradition. His posts are a pleasure to read and include beautiful graphics, and the alphabetic list of labels makes navigating the site, and the traditions represented, very easy.

He also links to lots of books, and I hope he writes more book reviews--they're well considered and entertaining. Start by reading Raft Wackos.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Infopeople is a familiar organization to many California library workers, but perhaps lesser known outside the state. They hold fantastic training sessions at low or no cost for California library workers, and make dozens of archived webcasts and webinars available to the world--for free. There are many of interest to those outside of library settings covering topics such as volunteering, technology, leadership and research skills. Many other resources are available on their site, including past training materials, podcasts, etc.

They've also compiled a great search tools page, that lists favorite resources by topic and leads to a custom best search tools site which lists multiple search engines on one page.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

LJ's Darwin reading list

This year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Want to read it, but unsure which edition might be the best? A recommendation is included in Library Journal's article, "Charles Darwin at 200 : celebrate evolution's father with these seven titles."

The article is an annotated bibliography which includes ISBN numbers (for quick searching on your favorite book site) and price. Want to find the titles? To find the books in a library, check out or to purchase the book new, check out IndieBound to purchase from an independent bookseller (just copy & paste that ISBN number, or any other search terms, in the search box). Buying used books? My favorite sites are Abebooks for a bargain, and TomFolio for nicer or collectible editions.

And which edition does LJ recommend? Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition. Sterling. 2008. c.538p. ed. by David Quammen. illus. index. ISBN 978-1-4027-5639-9. $35.

Monday, May 04, 2009

North Atlantic Fisheries History Conference, Norfolk, Va.

Dr. Ingo Heidbrink has sent along an announcement for the 12th North Atlantic Fisheries History Conference, taking place 19-22 August 2009 in Norfolk, Virginia (USA). More information is available from the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association. The invitation:

North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA)
Old Dominion University, Department of History
12th North Atlantic Fisheries History Conference
19-22 August 2009 in Norfolk, VA (USA)
The North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) and the Department of History at Old
Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA invites you to participate in the 12th North Atlantic
Fisheries History Conference to be held from 19-22 August 2009 in Norfolk, VA (USA). This
meeting is designed to stimulate scholarly exchange between researchers at all levels (from
graduate students to senior scientists) and in all disciplines that relate to the long-term
development of fishing activity and its impact on the marine environment.
The special theme of the conference will be:
Fisheries Management in a Historical Perspective
In addition to seven thematic sessions with scholarly papers there will be a roundtable on archival
sources and fisheries history research and the launching of NAFHA’s big book (A History of the
North Atlantic Fisheries: Volume 1 – From Early Times to the mid-19th Century).
To register for the conference, please return the attached registration form via fax or e-mail.
Registration deadline is: June 15th 2009.
The conference fee (including all sessions, coffee-breaks, conference-dinner, etc.) is 180.—US$
for NAFHA-members, 210.—US$ for non-members for registration and payment before June 1st
2009 and (210.—US$ NAFHA members, 240.—US$ non-members for registration and payment
after June 1st 2009)
For a limited number of participants, especially young colleagues and colleagues from developing
countries, the conference fee might be partly or completely waived. Such a waiver requires
application before June 1st 2009.
The North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA)
is an international, interdisciplinary organization that aims to enhance our knowledge and
understanding of the historical development of the fisheries conducted in the North Atlantic.
NAFHA meets its aim by fostering research activity, chiefly through the promotion of conferences
that bring together established and emerging scholars to examine socio-cultural, economic,
political and environmental aspects of commercial fishing activity over the last millennium. The
findings of these conferences, together with monographs and reference works, are disseminated
in the Association’s publication series, Studia Atlantica. For further information, visit
The History Department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
is one of very few North American university departments with a focus on maritime history.
Research is conducted into global maritime history and the fisheries history of the Atlantic region.
Faculty members include renowned specialists in this field, who participate in the intercollegiate,
interdisciplinary Maritime Consortium at ODU. This brings together scholars from various
disciplines, including the humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional schools, all of
whom are concerned with maritime and marine affairs.
Norfolk, VA is a major seaport of the USA located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. A rich
local history of fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean as well as maritime
industries, marine research institutions, government agencies like NOAA, the USCG and
maritime museums and collections like the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA characterize
the region.
Please forward this conference announcement / invitation to all colleagues who might be
interested in the 12th NAFHA conference in Norfolk, VA on 19-22 August 2009.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information at:
Looking forward to seeing you in Norfolk, VA, in August 2009!
Dr. Ingo Heidbrink
-NAFHA Presidency & Conference Organizer-
Associate Professor – Department of History
Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA
Phone: 1-757-683-3656 or skype: ingo.heidbrink
North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA)
Old Dominion University, Department of History
12th North Atlantic Fisheries History Conference
19-22 August 2009 in Norfolk, VA (USA)
Preliminary Program
Tuesday, August 18th :
Registration and get-together Reception
Wednesday, August 19th
9:30 – 11:00 Welcome and Introduction
11:30 – 13:00 Session I - The “Science” of Fisheries Management
Chair: David J. Starkey
Petter Holm:
Legitimacy and privatization:
Fisheries management and the role of the fishermen in society
Sydney Holt:
The Evolution of the Objectives, Science and Procedures of Fisheries Management
Katharina Jantzen:
The evolution of incentive-based quota management in North Atlantic cod fisheries
14:30 – 16:00 Session II - Fisheries: Resources, Politics, and Conflict
Chair: Maura Hametz
Will Bryan:
“The Strength of the Scup Ticket”:
The Politics of Fishery Regulation in Rhode Island, 1870-1872
Christopher Magra:
Oceanic Resource Extraction and Conflict in the Revolutionary Era
Christine Overgaard:
Managing Dutch cod fishery in the 1800s
16:30 – 18:00 Session III - Fisheries “Lifecycles”: Stocks and Management
Chair: Matthew McKenzie
Piers Crocker:
The Protection of Stocks of Norwegian Brisling 1900-2008
Ernesto Lopez:
The Anchovy in the Bay of Biscay. The Birth and the Death of a Fishery (1880-2008)
Soeren Byskov:
Trawling for the Danish Fishmeal c.1970-2008
Fisheries management in a sector with bad reputation
Thursday, August 20th
9:30 – 11:00 Session IV - Norwegian Fisheries’ Management
Chair: Aarstein Svihus
Paal Christensen:
The role of fisheries management in the history of the Norwegian fisheries, 1970-2005
Bjoern-Petter Finstad:
The Lofoten Law of 1897 and the Finnmark Law of 2009 –
A comparison between two Norwegian management regimes
Jan Petter Johnsen:
Management and cybernatization in Norwegian fisheries
11:30 – 13:00 Session V - Fishieries Policy in European Commerce
Chair: Lars U. Scholl
Gaute Heyerdahl:
The Creation of the European Communities Common Fisheries Policy, 1963-1970.
Chris Reid, Morten Karnoe Sondergaard:
Bilateral trade and fisheries development: the 1933 Anglo-Danish Trade Agreement
Olga Wisniewska:
Liver-oil logistics – norwegian fish-oil trade with Stettin in the end of XIXth century.
14:15 – 16:15 Session VI - Cultural Aspects of Fisheries History
Chair: Annette Finley-Croswhite
Dag Hundstad:
“Marcus the Fisherman” – Coastal Tourism and Regional Identity
Ole Sparenberg:
The Fischbratküche: „Fish ‘n’ Chips“ in Germany, 1924-1939
Robert Gear:
The Changing Role of Management in Shetland’s Pelagic Fishing Industry 1945-2005
Collin Davis:
Transatlantic Women: Fishermen’s Wives’ Organizations in Gloucester and Hull
16:15 – 18:00 Program with the United States Coast Guard
18:00 – 20:00 Reception
Friday, August 21st
9:30 – 11:00 Session VII - Seas of Change: Fisheries and Modernization
Chair: Ingo Heidbrink
Matthew McKenzie:
“Curbing Commodification: Biology, Culture, and Management in the
Southern NewEngland Colonial Inshore Fisheries.”
Aarstein Svihus:
Modernisation, rationalization of the fishing fleet and the
fishermen’s political response,1950-1990s
Brian McSorely:
Seas of Change: Redefining New England’s Fishing Community
11:30 – 13:00 Roundtable Archival Sources and Fisheries History Research
(Organized by Bill Thiesen, USCG)
14:30 – 18:00 NAFHA Internal Meetings
18:00 Conference Dinner
Saturday, August 22nd
9:30 – 16:00 Post-Conference Tour: Mariners’ Museum and USS MONITOR - Center
18:00 – 22:00 Farewell Reception

Friday, May 01, 2009

Princess Taiping update

Sakkis, a friend of one of Princess Taiping's crew members, Hugh Morrow, took time to leave a comment here. He has a nice post with a video on his blog, "Mr. Cakes mishapps and misadventures." He prompted me to look for some updates.

I was able to dig up the following news stories that cover different aspects of the incident:

In addition, The Old Salt Blog has an update with a link to the details on the freighter, the Champion Express.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Discovering Hiler

This is an article that I wrote for the April 2009 issue of our Friends of the Library newsletter, Relative Bearings, on our library's holdings related to Hilaire Hiler, the artist who not only painted the murals in the Aquatic Park Building at SF Maritime NHP, but was in charge of all the artwork in the remarkable WPA building. I reprint it here because his contribution to maritime art seems little known.

Discovering Hiler
by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian
Reprinted from: Relative Bearings, issue 13 (Apr. 2009), p. 1-2.

Until recently, the library's holdings on Hilaire Hiler were sparse: his Notes on the Technique of Painting (1969), a few mentions in one volume of his friend Henry Miller's The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, and a pam file. When interest in Hiler was spurred by the second phase of the Museum restoration, we discovered this wasn't sufficient. For an artist so concerned with conveying his ideas in words as well as pictures, this wasn't sufficient.

This current phase of Museum restoration includes conservation of Hilaire Hiler's colorful murals evoking the lost Pacific continent of Mu. (Hiler is also responsible for the beautiful room, originally the Ladies' Lounge, that he called "The Prismatarium," as it functioned in relation to color the way a planetarium functions for the heavens.) In conjunction with completion of the first phase of restoration, the main floor of the Museum building has also been opened for public tours (which are wonderful and highly recommended--call the Visitor Center for more information, 415-447-5000). After taking the tour myself, I wanted to learn more, and discovered some monographs in the pam file--I individually cataloged them in order to increase their visibility. These were two very small volumes with sparse information--but one of them had a bibliography.

Debbie Grace, as the Technical Services Library Technician, has a talent for locating out-of-print books in excellent condition at reasonable prices. Working through the bibliography, as well as following online leads, we discovered that Hiler was a prolific author, writing often about painting and color theory, and that the Library lacked many important works. (See below for a complete list of our holdings.)

We also discovered that Hiler was quite an interesting figure. Born Hiler Harzberg in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 16, 1898, he and his entire family later formally changed their surname to Hiler due to the increasing amount of hostility and prejudice against Jews. In his youth Hiler attended the Rhode Island School of Design but later enrolled in the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in accordance with his father's wishes. Many articles in Time magazine talk about the Hilers, including Hilaire's flunking out of Wharton, being told by two Philadelphia art schools that he can't draw, and pursuing piano and the saxophone before eventually making his way to Paris (despite being forcibly removed from a Europe-bound freighter by his dad's private detectives).

In Paris he played jazz, often with a live monkey on his back, and was part of the first jazz band ever to play in Germany. He came to co-own a jazz club that was closed down after the inadvertent ejection of a Senegalese Prince; he reopened the club, inviting every black in Paris to the opening.

In regards to art, he was steeped in post-cubist movements, and came to be recognized as a leader of the Precisionist movement, writing on abstract art, costume, and color and design theory. He moved to San Francisco in the 1930s, was commissioned by the WPA to paint our murals and was an active artist in California before starting the Hiler College in Santa Fe in 1944. Well traveled, he died in Paris in 1966. Several posthumous retrospectives have been held, and perhaps his stature as an artist is best expressed by an anonymous writer in Time:

"All his life he wanted to be a painter, but virtually his only formal education in the arts was a few lessons on the saxophone. Serious critics have praised his work, night-club proprietors have admired his murals, and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Mrs. John Work Garrett have bought his paintings." --"Hilermono," Time, Monday, Mar. 23, 1936.

Sources and selected bibliography (Library holdings noted):

Churchward, James. The Lost Continent of Mu: Motherland of Man. (not held by the Library)

Guthrie, Julian, "Maritime Museum restoration reveals hidden art," San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, October 3, 2008, p. B-1,

Hiler color harmony chart and color mixing guide. In the Library at: r ND1510.H55 1900z

[Hiler, Hilaire file] In the Library at: p NA3860.H5 pam

Hiler, Hilaire. Aquatic Park building decoration. In the Library in: p NA3860.H5 pam

Hiler, Hilaire. Color harmony and pigments. In the Library at: rr ND1510.H545 1942, with accompanying chart.

Hiler, Hilaire. Notes on the technique of painting. In the Library at: ND1500.H5 1969

Hiler, Hilaire. The painter's pocket-book of methods and materials. In the Library at: ND1500.H53 1962

Hiler, Hilaire. Why abstract? In the Library at: p N6494.A2 H55 1962

Hiler, Hilaire. Why expressionism? (Includes: Manifesto of psychromatic design) In the Library at: r ND196.E9 H55 1946

Regan, Michael. Hilaire Hiler, 1898-1966. In the Library at: ND237.H59 R44 1976

Time magazine articles are available for free online from the 1920s on at and include: "Hiler hits out" (Monday, Apr. 5, 1943), "Hilermono" (Mar. 23, 1936), "Sea murals" (Monday, Feb. 6, 1939), and "Why abstract?" (Monday, Oct. 1, 1945)

Waldemar, George. Hilaire Hiler et la vision panoramique. In the Library at: p ND237.H59 W35 1932

Major archival collections of Hiler's include those held by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution and by the Zimmerman Library, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.

For more information, consult the library catalog, or

Monday, April 27, 2009

Princess Taiping crew rescued but junk lost

I read the BBC news article & watched the video with a heavy heart. The crew was so kind myself and my husband when we visited them and their beautiful junk at the Hyde Street Pier here in San Francisco. They even made us tea. They took the time to give such an interesting and fun presentation to us at our staff meeting.

I am so sorry for the loss of their craft. My heart goes out to Nelson, Angela and the crew, and everyone who gave so much of themselves to the Princess Taiping.

More stories in the Taipei Times and at the Hawaii Health Guide site.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Linda Hall Library

The Linda Hall Library website has some wonderful resources. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the library is, according to its site:

...the largest privately funded library of science, engineering and technology in the world open to the public. The Library is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive physical, life science, engineering and technology collections, reliable library services, a host of other programs including a fellowship program, educational programs, and an ongoing series of public lectures, events and exhibitions.

Of particular interest are the online exhibitions which include, "Ice: A Victorian Romance," "Out of this World: The Golden Age of the Celestial Atlas," and "Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679-1859."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Europeana is not just an excellent resource for images, but for texts, videos, even sounds. There are resources from previous centuries all the way up through 2004 (that I found)--chronological browsing is available through the "Timeline" link at the top of the page, or "Timeline navigator" at the bottom. To see the participating institutions, select "Partners," to see them listed by material type and location. The advanced search option is worth checking out--it doesn't take the time to direct you to another page, but quickly changes the search box to the advanced search options.

Even better, the interface is available in multiple languages--not just a few of the most spoken European languages, but I counted 26 different languages.

Is there maritime content? Oh, yes. Lots.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

U.S. WWII records

Some new resources are available at the National Archives' World War II Records website, including:

Finding Information on Personal Participation in World War II, a brochure on some of NARA's relevant records, and how to get started.

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs)

World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel

State Summary of War Casualties from World War II for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Personnel

And don't miss the link at the bottom of the page, to the Archives Library Information Center's WW2 page for even more research resources.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Google Life images

Have you explored the Life photo archive on Google images yet? There are many, many maritime images. A fast way to start searching is to go directly to Google Image Search, and in addition to your search terms, enter: source:life

If you'd like to browse by decade or topic, head to the collection's site, where a few topics are listed, and photo collections by decade from the 1860s to the 1970s are available.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


vads, "the online resource for visual arts," has many images of interest to the maritime community. There is a link to the separate collections for easy browsing, but the search tool is excellent. Searching for "ship" returned images of ships as expected, but also of tableware used on ships, nautical fashions, and a toy cargo ship. The descriptions are thorough, and many types of images are included--photographs, paintings, posters and prints.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Whalers' Curious Art of Scrimshaw

If you're in San Francisco on April 14, 2009, at 8 p.m., you may wish to attend Stuart Frank's lecture, "The Whalers' Curious Art of Scrimshaw." The event is preceded by a member mini-exhibition of scrimshaw and nautical objects at 7:15. Part of the American Decorative Arts Forum of Northern California, more information is available on their website, or by phoning 415-249-9234.

ADAF members are free; $15 for the general public.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Taking the sea

The Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library send along this lecture announcement:

Taking the Sea
Sunday, April 5, 2009, 5:00 p.m. In the Maritime Library.

Maritime author and historian Dennis Powers will discuss his new book, Taking the Sea, which tells of the maritime business of wrecking, or ship salvaging, and the operations of Captain Thomas P.H. Whitelaw, an emigrant Scot who, beginning as a hard-hat diver in San Francisco in the late 1860s, founded a marine-salvage empire covering the California and Pacific Northwest coasts.

TIA: This is the library where I work.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

New Villiers resources, and pirates!

Douglas McCarthy (with the Picture Library at NMM, Greenwich), sends along some wonderful new resources. First, new collections are available at, the Picture Library online:

Pirates: Buccaneers, treasure, dastardly deeds aplenty (real and fictional). This is a wonderful collection, including famous, familiar images, and delightful surprises such as the pirates dressed as women to try to fool a merchant ship.

Alan Villiers: life in the last days of sail. A talented photographer, Villiers' images are full of life and beauty.

In addition to these large collections of images, the Museum has just published a new book on Villiers, Alan Villiers: Voyager of the Winds by Kate Lance.

Even if you don't think you'll buy the book, go to its website and follow the links on the right side of the page--there's a clip from his film, "The Cape Horn Road" (don't miss the adorable cat!), and links to Villiers photos both on the site and on Flickr commons.

Thank you, Douglas!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy

Part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, 100 Hours of Astronomy begins on April 2 and continues through April 5. Events are scheduled around the world and there are many ways to participate--if you have clear skies, you can use this site to find an event near you and resources for observing. If skies are cloudy, this site will lead you to remote observing opportunities and live streaming events you can tune into online.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lectures in San Jose, California

If you're going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area (California) for the The North American Society for Oceanic History, Steamship Historical Society of America and National Maritime Historical Society 2009 annual conference, you may want to consider heading south to San Jose on Sunday, May 17 to catch two lectures on environmental awareness around water issues: "The Rising Tide – Climate Change and San Francisco Bay Wetlands," a lecture by Adam Parris, and, "Raising Environmental Awareness for Water through Textile Art," a lecture by Linda Gass.

The lectures will be held at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and details are available on their calendar site. It's a wonderful, small museum, right downtown, and well worth a visit.

(TIA: I'm not just a fan of the museum, I'm a memeber.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gold Rush Port

The Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library send along this lecture announcement:

Gold Rush Port—the Maritime Archeology of San Francisco
Saturday, March 28, 2009, 6:00 p.m.

Drawing on excavations in buried ships and collapsed buildings from the Gold Rush period, maritime archeologist James P. Delgado re-creates San Francisco's unique maritime landscape, shedding new light on the city's remarkable rise from a small village to a boomtown of thousands in the three short years from 1848 to 1851. Copies of his new book, Gold Rush Port—the Maritime Archeology of San Francisco, will be available for sale.
The Sixth Karl Kortum Award for Maritime History will also be presented at this time by John Kortum, Esq. The Award of $1000 is presented every other year for the best research in selected fields of maritime history. For more information and guidance, please see the Friends’ website at Submissions are accepted at any time, and will be considered in the succeeding September 12 deadline period for each award cycle.

TIA: This is the library where I work.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lady travelers

Thanks to the Librarian's Internet Index, I've discovered the online exhibit, Wilder Shores : Lady Travelers of the 18th and 19th Centuries. From their site:

Wilder Shores is organized geographically, loosely following the structure of Barbara Hodgson’s book No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers. (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2002). The exhibit features books and manuscripts, both by and about, women who traveled to these regions: Europe, Russia, Turkey, The Middle East, India and the Far East, Africa, The Americas.

The web exhibit doesn't include the texts, but does include portraits of these intrepid women and selected illustrations from their accounts, all excellently attributed with easily followed citations for further reading.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Ocean Wireless Boys

Now you can easily join Jack Ready and Noddy Nipper in their high seas adventures, for The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code by Captain Wilbur Lawton has been published at Project Gutenberg.

The author, also known as John Henry Goldfrap, may have been better known for his Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol series, but the availability of this book may change that--daring rescues are the norm for the Ocean Wireless Boys!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wooden Ships and other poems

From Wooden Ships:

They are remembering forests where they grew,—
The midnight quiet, and the giant dance;
And all the murmuring summers that they knew
Are haunting still their altered circumstance.

Read more in Project Gutenberg's eBook version of Ships in Harbour by David Morton, originally published in 1921.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Women in science

Institutions continue to celebrate Women's History Month by releasing wonderful resources. This photo of "Mary Jane Rathbun (1860-1943), working with crab specimens" is part of the Smithsonian's Flickr photostream and their "Women in Science" set.

Perhaps coincidental with these great images, the Library of Congress' Science Reference Services has published Women and Minorities in Science and Technology: a guide to Selected Resources. Like their other guides, this one contains screen after screen of references to books (general and specialized), journals, and recommended websites.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is a free online magazine aimed at K-5 teachers, with beautiful photographs and interesting articles. The link to the archives is at the top of the page, and many articles are linked to a "Virtual Bookshelf" bibliography.

If you'd like to go strait to a listing of many, many children's books, follow their "Book Club" link to their Shelfari site. Also worth reading is their blog, highlighting resources of interest in their magazine and elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This lovely image is from George Eastman House's Flickr photostream, and their new "Women!" set. WAVEs, or "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service," were women returning to general Navy service in 1942. Yes. Returning. Women first entered U.S. Naval service in 1917.

For more on the women in the U.S. Navy, the Naval Historical Center's World War II era WAVES overview and images, and World War I era Yeomen (F) overview and images are a great place to start.

Monday, March 09, 2009

When the English warship became a gun platform

The BBC has published a fantastic article on its website, 'Superguns' of Elizabeth I's navy, outlining what's been learned from a reproduction cannon. The cannon, modeled on one recovered from an Elizabethan-era shipwreck, is providing the evidence to back up the historical accounts of the Elizabethan navy as outstanding gunners, much feared.

The article is well worth reading if you've ever been curious about naval gunnery. Wonderfully written, it's explains the technical issues and why these discoveries are so exciting beyond historical interest in the English battle with the Spanish Armada--why the development of uniform cannon changed the role of the warship to one of an effective gun platform, and led to the naval warfare that is practiced even today.

And it also has a cool video of the replica gun's first firing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Three-Hour Tour

In Seattle, Wash., the Center for Wooden Boat's 33rd Annual Dinner and Auction on March 7 sounds like wonderful fun--there will be a Gilligan's Island costume contest! From the flyer:

How it works: 1) Come to the auction dressed as your favorite Gilligan's Island character, 2) Register as a contestant at the door, 3) Pose for a quick photo to be placed at the voting table, 4) Mix, mingle and have fun! Attendees will vote for you, their favorite character by placing dollar bills in your ballot box on the voting table. Winners will be announced during the live auction. One winner will be selected for each Gilligan's Island cast member to receive a great prize, so come to the auction and show off your creative side!

Don't feel like dressing up? That's okay! Be sure to bring lots of dollar bills to 'vote' for your favorite character!

I hope they share photos on their website!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Jurn is a new search engine, available at which searches 1148 (as of Feb. 9, 2009) hand-picked publications, mainly in English. Focusing on the arts and humanities, many articles on preservation and history are included. It's a great search engine, returning highly relevant results. I searched very broad terms, such as sea and retrieved fascinating articles, both popular and scholarly. Specific searches, such as vessel names, also retrieved wonderful hits.

Interested in its development? Add the Jurn news blog to your feeds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great War archives

The Great War Archive contains over 6,500 items contributed by the general public during 2008, and continues to grow through its sister-site, the Great War Archive Flickr group. There is a wealth of maritime-related images here; just searching ship turns up pages and pages of images.

The Great War Archive is hosted by the University of Oxford, as is The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, where one can find Robert Graves' poem, "I wonder what it feels like to be drowned" (retrievable through the search ships).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images, from the Wellcome Library collections, has some wonderful maritime imagery. Searching the term navy brings up anti-VD posters, diagrams of mortality, and even advertising images featuring sailors. The indexing & search interface works very well; searching the term star retrieves star-shaped antibodies and Christmas decorations, as well as images of the stars in the heavens.

Following the link to the Wellcome Library leads to other electronic resources such as the electronic edition of one of their most popular manuscripts, The Physician's handbook, Wellcome MS.8004, an English medical and astrological compendium from the mid-15th century.

Above: Image no. L0019401, Credit, Wellcome Library, London

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Early photography resources

The January 2009 issue of College & Research Libraries News contains a fantastic article, Uncapping the lens : the history of early photography by Ellen Bahr. (Write down the rest of the citation, since the ALA website is notorious for changing its links & the difficulty of navigating it: C&RL News, Jan. 2009, v.70, no.1, p. 32-35. This way, you can always borrow the article via interlibrary loan!)

The article contains a listing of photography sites of interest to anyone involved with any aspect of early photography--even including late 20th century photography processes. The print article is a little easier to scan than the online version; major sections include:

  • Overviews
  • Timelines
  • Overviews of photographic processes
  • Individual photographic processes
  • Materials and workshops
  • Podcasts
  • Discussion lists
  • Organizations
  • Preservation
  • Portals
  • Exhibition catalogs
  • Searchable image collections
  • Historians

Many thanks to my colleague, Keri Koehler, for passing this issue on to me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy birthday, Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was born on this day, February 12, 1809. Of the sites celebrating this 200th anniversary of his birth, my favorites include:

I'm going to celebrate by watching Professor Richard Dawkins on Darwin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lecture: Preserving the Free China

The Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library send along this lecture announcement:

Preserving the Free China
Saturday, February 14, 2009, 6:00 p.m. In the Maritime Library, Building E, Fort Mason Center. Donation:$5($4 Library Friends and SFMNPA) Reservations: 415-561-7040 or

San Francisco Maritime NHP’s John Muir will discuss the effort to preserve the historic Chinese junk Free China, which sailed across the Pacific to San Francisco in 1955, manned by a crew of power boat fishermen who had never sailed before.

TIA: This is the library where I work.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Our friends at Casco Bay Boaters have sent along, and are profiling, a wonderful blog, BiblioOdyssey. The images related to maritime history are few but beautiful, such as the gorgeous Book of Eclipses that Casco Bay Boaters found there.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do you have feedback for

If you missed it, Douglas McCarthy, Picture Library Manager at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, took the time to post a comment on my post that is so thoughtful that I wanted to give it its own post. (Those of you who saw this already in the comments to the previous post can move on!) He provides his contact information, so if you have feedback on the site, please send it has such potential that it would be wonderful if the user community responds to the staff's openness for comments.

I'm delighted to hear that I was wrong about the lack of searching instructions; Douglas very kindly points out their location, under the "Help" menu, and here's a direct link.

And do check out the Help section--the picture there is fantastic. I want a pair of sunglasses like the woman in the black & white print dress is wearing.

Douglas McCarthy's post:

Hi there

Thanks for featuring our new website and for your comments - this kind of feedback is invaluable. I am the Picture Library Manager at the NMM and have developed from conception to launch over the last 14 months.

If I may respond to your points in order:

1) a "switch-off slideshow" button for slower connections is a great idea I'll investigate.

2) content: another good point made here. NMM has developed several on-line catalogues since the internet was born, featuring a variety of content presented in different ways. With, we're trying to present concisely and consistently in terms of caption length and format, for example. This takes longer (we spent 3 months editing 15,000 captions last summer!) but will be worthwhile, I feel.

3) search: this is an area we're working on and improvements will come during 2009, such as keywording. The site does offer phrase (and other flexible) searching. The 'how to' guide on this is in the 'Help' area, but I'll look at making this more prominent.

4) Google is king and likely to remain so!

We have an exciting plan of development for the site, so please keep an eye out for new collections and features this year.

Do feel free to reply here or email me ( with further comments if you wish.

Best regards

Douglas McCarthy
Picture Library Manager
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

The new Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Digital Collection from the Seattle Public Library Special Collections is a searcher's dream.

Interested in waterfront images? In the search box, enter: waterfront
You may be puzzled by the search results--a bunch of digitized books--but select Argus, A.Y.P. ed. and you'll be taken directly to p. 51 with images entitled, "Sections of the Seattle waterfront." Yes--it searches within the digitized texts & takes you directly to the location of your search term in the retrieved item. I love that.

There are many items there of interest to the maritime and naval researcher, and it's a wonderful snapshot of the time. And the search interface makes it easy for the specialized researcher to explore.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reference Extract

I'm watching Planning Reference Extract with interest. According to their site:

Reference Extract is envisioned as a web search engine, like Google, Yahoo and MSN. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extracts will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe. Users will enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide.

I wonder how it will differ from one of my favorite sites, The Librarian's Index to the Internet, which describes itself as:

Librarians' Internet Index (LII) is a publicly-funded website and weekly newsletter serving California, the nation, and the world...You can also search and browse our website for the best of the Web. We have over 20,000 entries, also maintained by our librarians and organized into 14 main topics and nearly 300 related topics.

Librarians building a searchable resource of credible sites. Such a good idea that LII began doing it in 1990 as a Gopher bookmark file. (Remember Gopher?) In the current climate, they keep going, despite budget cuts. I wonder now what the future of this valuable, almost 20-year-old resource will be?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The new Picture Library website from the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) makes it much easier to find their images from remote locations than it used to be--some images, if you have a fast internet connection. The home page will load a horizontally scrolling row of images without the option to skip it, so if you have a slow connection, you may want to go directly to the subject & category search page or to featured collections. (I accessed the site on a fairly fast network, and grew impatient waiting for the home page to load through the course of my searching.) The site has a useful FAQ broadly outlining policies, but doesn't address what is on this site in comparison to the digital collections previously made available over the web and currently made available on other sites.

Browsing, I saw lovely photographs, objects, paintings--a wide range of items that have been imaged. When I went to the search page, however, and entered this search in the caption search box: "cat head"
my search retrieved one image, a portrait of Captain Sir Charles Hamilton. Apparently, this text is responsible for responding to my phrase search:

This half-length portrait in kit-cat format shows the sitter with his head turned to the right.

Since the FAQ doesn't include advice on constructing search terms, I'm inferring that they don't offer phrase searching. I then tried various terms and variations. I was hoping to find images that I had found through their website before, e.g., "PAD8643 Gaff, Cat Head, Driver Boom, Bow Sprit," a watercolor--but I didn't find it on nmmimages.

It is a great website. On a fast connection, it's easy to navigate, and if you see something you like, there is a link at the bottom directly to their print sales. But I'm not sure how useful the site is for the serious researcher--there are clearly more images available on the main NMM website, but how many more? We don't know. And images that are on the NMM Flickr site are also not appearing on nmmimages (when I looked).

The casual user, or pleasure browser, might enjoy nmmimages, but the casual user might discover more NMM images through a Google Images search by including the phrase "national maritime museum"--I know I did.