Wednesday, December 30, 2009

George Tobin Sketchbook Now Online

George Tobin (1768-1838) was third lieutenant on HMS Providence on Captain William Bligh's second voyage to obtain breadfruit plants from Tahiti and take them to Jamaica.  Tobin became an artist on the voyage when the official artist was too ill to join the ship. Throughout the voyage he sketched views and natural history specimens, notably birds and fish, in most of the places visited. Tobin continued to pursue both his artistic and maritime career become a renown artist.

In 1939 Mystic Seaport became the proud holders of one of Tobin's sketchbook, preserved in the Manuscripts Collection and now available online

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sea Music Festival ...Call For Papers

The Collections Department at Mystic Seaport is a great place to start exploring topics for music of the sea. Visit our catalogs to get an idea of the breadth of music-related subjects held in our various collections.

The annual Sea Music Festival will be held at Mystic Seaport in June, 2010. The official call for papers, submission by February 28, 2010, can be found at:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Celebrating the End of A Season

As a great (maritime) songwriter once wrote you can't "reason with hurricane season"*,  but you can celebrate the end of yet another. Yesterday marked the official end of the 2009 season and the folks in the Collections are especially happy to have not put our emergency plan into action.  When a hurricane hits a coastal museum - there is a lot of work to do securing the site from wind and waves.

Take a stroll through our Hurricane Image Archive and I'm sure you'll join us in the Celebration.

*Jimmy Buffet, 1974.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Villiers photos showcased by National Maritime Museum

Alan John Villiers (1903-1982) was a distinguished Australian sailor, author and photographer with a passion for life at sea. His work vividly records the period of early-20th century maritime history when merchant sailing vessels or 'tall ships' were in rapid decline. The NMM Picture Library recently published a special collection of Villiers's photographs to its print sales website This collection, entitled 'Last of the Wind Ships', focuses on his voyages on square-rigged ships including the Joseph Conrad which is now preserved here at Mystic Seaport.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Closing and Historical Note

The Research Room will be closed Thursday and Friday 11/26 - 11/27 for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Hope your Holidays are passed in better circumstances than that of Carsten B. DeWitt, yeoman, on board the U.S.S. KEARSARGE who notes in his journal:

1863 November 26th weather fine and quite warm. This day is appointed as a day of Thanksgiving in most of the States of the United States. I would like to meet in the Family circle and see my Friends once again but circumstances does not permit and I must content my self with eating a Dinner worthy of the Day and hoping that the next one will see me free and in the enjoyment of a life of Freedom and amongst my Friends again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prized Logbook Now Online

In 1855 Robert Weir shipped aboard the whale ship Clara Bell. Apprehensive about the coming voyage Wier opened his journal with the hope that he'd "soon get used to it. Hurrah for hard times. At least I'd like to make myself feel so, but I scarcely dare look ahead it seems rather dark. Have great anticipation of future independence. I shall never never call on father again."

Weir's journal is both an engrossing tale of a  young man's coming of age and also one of the most visually illustrative accounts of the whaling process. The journal contains over 30 illustrations of shipboard life. Log 164 is now online.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comer photos included in Inuit History Site

The Department of Education for the Government of Nunavut, Canada, has created a new online website “Inuit Contact and Colonization – TARURNGAQTAQ,” for use by social studies teachers, which includes a group of twenty one Mystic Seaport Comer Collection images to illustrate several sections.

For Inuit takurngaqtaq literally means encountering something for the first time.  This site is an exploration of takurngaqtaq between Inuit and First Nations, Whalers, Explorers and Traders. This journey is guided and supported by the knowledge and experiences of Inuit Elders and the exploration of history. A Historical Exploration toolkit provides context and supports for the research process as well as instructional modules for use by educators.”

Shirley Tagalik advised that if you select the Whaler section and then click on the whaler's trunk, a number of items pop out of the trunk. (The same happens if you select the Inuit pack.) When you click on an item, such as tools, a number of related artifact assets appear along the bottom of the page. You can click on each item for more information related to the item. The photo collection appears as photo assets.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sponsor a Log!!!

Patrons of the G.W. Blunt White Library now have the ability to aid in the preservation of manuscript items and the dissemination of the information within by sponsoring the digitization of individual logbooks and papers.

Digitizing manuscript material provides for global access (visitors to our site come from over 128 different countries), aids in preservation by reducing wear and tear on the original, and creates an archival copy for later generations to access.

More information and sponsorship level information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two New Collection Derivatives

Art in Motion, in association with Mystic Seaport has released two new posters: "Chart the Course" and "Chart the Way".

Using images from the Chart and Map Collection as a background for Rosenfeld photos of Hustler and Columbia these new posters highlight two of our significant collections.

(And they can be purchased too! Proceeds support Mystic Seaport.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"We have to work like horses and live like pigs"

I posted a few months ago on Mystic Seaport's whaleboat that is in the National Museum of American History’s exhibit.What I didn't realize at the time was that it is a quote from Robert Weir's journal kept on board the whale ship Clara Bell that appears on the wall above the whaleboat and that curators choose to exemplify the feelings of 19th century mariners. "We have to work like horses and live like pigs" is only one of the many insightful lines written by Weir in Mystic Seaport's Log 164. Illustrations from the Clara Bell log have appeared in numerous publications including the novel: "Whale Hunt: The Narrative of a Voyage by Nelson Cole Haley, Harpooner in the Ship Charles W. Morgan." “American Heritage” also featured an article on Weir that is now available online. … Many and many a weary league am I now from those I love—and O what a life for me to lead, among an ungodly set of men

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book, Manuscript and Periodical Catalog Update

Featuring updated search and display features as well as the ability for Mystic Seaport Staff and students to create accounts and maintain lists and email search results right to your own computer, the 'new' catalog is now live.

Check it out at:

Thanks for the smoothly orchestrated update go to Mindy Matheson the Collections System Administrator and IT Director, Michael Lehnertz.

You can also email or post search results to your fellow researchers. For instance - see what the Library holds on the Charles W. Morgan.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New -- Collections and Research Image Archive

Mystic Seaports' collection of art, objects, photographs, and ships plans number in the millions and while it is an ambitious undertaking staff at the CRC are continually working to serve our visitors by putting more and more of these vast resources online. To date approximately 10,000 images have been shot and scanned. That isn't all the collection but it is enough to keep many researchers, staff, folks with general interest in various maritime maters, or just the plain curious, plenty busy.

Search the Image Archive at: Results can be viewed in either List or Gallery views.

Or browse some selected ‘collections’

By Category: Instruments Scrimshaw Oil Paintings

By Topic: Canals Tugboats Bicycles

Please note - this resource is under continuing development (for instance you will see a few broken image links) but the visitors who have seen it appreciated it so much we felt it was time to make the announcement. Please send along your comments and suggestions to myself, or any other members of the CRC staff. We’ll be working toward incorporating user input and adding more and more images to the archive.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Collections Featured in "Classic Yachts" Article

This months issue of "Classic Yacht" carries a story on just a few of the many gems in our vast collections. You can view the article, some great shots of collection pieces, as well as words of wisdom from the staff at: (article on page 96).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Newest Title

The ever popular Silas Talbot (Mystic Seaport mss Coll. 18) is one of the early U.S. Naval Commanders featured in Lou Norton's new book Captains Contentious: The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine . Along with Talbot, this book also looks into the characteristics of Dudley Saltonstall, Joshua Barney, and John Paul Jones and into how their reckless bravado and frequent antagonism toward their fellow officers shaped the new institution.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Weekend, Another Hurricane Threat

Last weekend Hurricane Bill skirted the nearby coast giving us lots of good surfing waves. This weekend we're waiting to see what Danny will bring - and thinking about Hurricanes past. If you want to see what a real hurricane can do - take a look at our photos from the 1938 Hurricane.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The 2009 Williams-Mystic Essay Contest in Honor of Joseph Conrad

The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport is awarding a $5,000 scholarship for one semester.

Deadline: October 15, 2009

Eligibility: Undergraduates of any major in good academic standing at an accredited college or university are eligible. High school seniors may also submit. Must be interested in spending a future semester at Williams-Mystic, either spring or fall (based on choice and availability), as part of your college career.

The Essay: Submissions of either fiction or nonfiction should be between 1,000-5,000 words.
Submissions may be about any topic and in any genre as long as the ocean or a major body of water is the primary setting or aspect of concern. The essay may be nature writing, environmental or political activism, literary or historic scholarship, or simply good storytelling. (Sorry, no collections of poetry in 2009.)

More information:,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Letter to the Collections and Research Library

Dear Mystic Seaport Library and Special Collections,

Thank you very much for your help during our research trip to study pirates this summer. As we are researching the changing meanings of "pirate" throughout history, several aspects of your collections were very helpful to us. On the matter of evolving legal and policy responses to and understandings of piracy, the transcripts of Civil War era trails of Confederate privateers on charges of piracy provided us with excellent empirical evidence of the disputer meaning of 'pirate' during this time.

Equally illuminating in terms of popular cultural understandings of piracy were your collections of pirate stories for children which help us trace the course of the romantization and de-fanging of portrayals of pirates through the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We really appreciate your help in locating and providing these text for us.


Researchers from American University
Washington, DC

Friday, August 7, 2009

The CRCs got talent

Not only did staff members produce this excellent video - they also star in it:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shakespeare, the Maritime Connection

Mystic Seaport's G. W. Blunt White Library is acknowledged in A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare'sThe Tempest.

But... that's not the only reason to read this newest maritime work. According to Nathaniel Philbrick it is "at once a penetrating work of literary analysis and a riveting historical narrative ... reveals the salty survival tale at the heart of Shakespeare’s New World masterpiece, The Tempest."

The book focuses on William Strachey, an English writer whose works are among the primary sources for the early history of the English colonization of North America, and the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture on the uninhabited island of Bermuda. The survivors eventually reached Virginia after building two small ships during the ten months they spent on the island.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Desert Connection

Several images from the Rosenfeld Collection are included in KNPB, a PSB station in Reno, NV's new documentary "Legends of the Lake".

Legends of the Lake looks at the appreciation, beauty, and historical connections that lie beneath the surface of the mahogany rich wonders of classic wooden boats. Set at the Concours d’Elegance in beautiful Lake Tahoe, this 30-minute high-definition, documentary addresses the passion wooden boat owners have for their craft, familial connections, legendary speed kings, hydroplane racers and a history that tie generations together

Pictured here is BABY GAR IV, 1924, #13265F, a view of Gar Wood (r) and Orlin Johnson (l), at the Free-For-All Race during Buffalo Races. Our record says that "Men seen wearing formal dress, bowties, and jackets with tails. The formal dress was worn in protest of the comment made that Gar Wood 's racing was not for "gentlemen". Gar Wood was a famous hydroplane racer and boat builder. Orlin Johnson worked side-by-side with Gar Wood readying Wood's boats, testing them and racing them for many years. Orlin is pictured here as the mechanic."

Marine Engine Collection of Mystic Seaport Database

The Marine Engine Collection of Mystic Seaport contains over 280 unique representations of marine engines. As a result of a cooperative effort between the Shipyard and Collections Departments a database containing information and images of all those wonderful engines in now online.

Spanning the years from 1880 - 1980 the collection includes inboards and outboards that are steam, electric, gas, diesel and naptha powered and built by over 30 manufactures. Visitors can browse the engine photos, or browse the collection by Make, Type or Builder. There is also a search option.

Pictured here is one of the earliest engines in the collection, a small, single cylinder marine steam engine, Stephenson link reverse, with spoked hand wheel, shaft flange and pumps driven from the crosshead. Appears to be a Murray & Tregurtha product from the late 1800's to early 1900's.

According to Stan Grayson's book, American Marine Engines: 1885-1950 the first marine engine was developed “sometime in 1887 or 1888” by Henry Peterson who owned a fleet of Whitehalls operating on the San Francisco waterfront.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fish Facts for the Fourth

It was the efforts of the British government to restrict New England fishing, and fishing commerce that started the Revolution not, as you've been led to believe tea and "taxation without representation." And Christopher Magra's written the book to prove it. The Fisherman's Cause: Atlantic Commerce and Maritime Dimensions of the American Revolution details how:

  • The cumulative effect of British efforts to restrict and regulate New England's commercial expansion along the Atlantic contributed to a rising conviction among colonists that the British state actively opposed their right to use the sea for commercial purposes.
  • The British 1775 "New England Trade and Fisheries Act", which restricted the fisheries was considered by members of the House of Lords to "declaring war [against the colonies]."
  • The fishing industry enabled the quick mobilization of the first American navy both with manpower and privateers.
  • Fishing vessels smuggled in most of the ammunition used by American forces.
  • Fishermen filled the ranks and provided invaluable and unique services.

And did you know, that during the famous crossing of the Delaware in 1776 General Henry Knox recalled that the crossing was led by the "fishermen of marblehead, alike at home upon land or water."

Just goes to show, once again, that American history is maritime history.

I Love the CRC

The American Library Association is showcasing the Mystic Seaport Collections Research Center at The article written by Tom Newman, and originally published in the Connecticut Libraries newsletter was picked up by the ALA because of the Library's unique nature, or as Mr. Newman puts it, because it is a:
research center where everything maritime, from manuscripts to fine art, exists together in one location. The Mystic Seaport Collections Research Center is not just a library, or an archive, or a museum, it is all of these things.

In addition to a great description of all the resources contained in the Research Center the article also features a favorite image from the collection: The Crossing the Line Ceremony from "A picturesque voyage to India : by the way of China." by Thomas Daniell, B.A., and William Daniell, A.R.A London :1810, is the American Library Association's (ALA's) website for the public, designed to keep America informed about what's happening in today's libraries, which are found in public, school, academic, corporate and institutional settings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oysters and Oyster Farming

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell is an enjoyable read on the history of Oysters. Related from the standpoint of New York City's relationship with the ever popular bivalve it does, however, tend to neglect Connecticut's rich oyster growing history.

Fear not fans of the Collections! The following items both preserve and tell more of the story:

HFM 31; Maps of Oyster Grounds, 1910,1920 and 1924 -
The Life History of the Oyster: Goodes
Records of Jeremiah Smith & Sons (Coll. 185)
Collection of Charles E. Palmer (Coll. 149)
Collection of Howard W. Beach (Coll. 139)
Eric T. Ball Papers (Coll. 73)
Oystering Collection (Coll. 121)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WoodenBoat Show

The Collections Research Center is ready for WoodenBoat, offering two days of expanded access to the ships plans collection and ships plans research. Visitors please be sure to stop by this Thursday and Friday from 10-5.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Annual Used Book Sale

The Fellows of the G.W. Blunt White Library will be presenting their annual used book sale in the G.W. Blunt White Building on the Museum grounds on Saturday, June 27 from 11 to 4 p.m.

There will be over 600, mostly nautical books for sale. The sale is styled as a "Dutch Auction" with prices being reduced as the day goes on from $10 at 11 a.m to $2 at 3 p.m. There will also be 125 special books starting at $15.

There will be over 300 nautical quarterly magazines for $3 apiece and some 500 free periodicals and other free books at both entrances to the Museum.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Visitor Notices

Please note the following as they apply to the Research Room:

  • June 26th - Open but with Woodenboat in town we expect to be very busy.
  • July 3rd - Closed for the 4th of July holiday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mapping the Pacific

This month's staff pick is a chart/sketch of the "Gulf of California drawn from the surveys made by the Spanish Officers and pilots of St. Blas" the chart details soundings, tracks, anchorages as well as missions and towns. The sketch is from Coll 304, v. 7, of The William T. Skiddy Collection.
and can be viewed in the Collections Research Room. Pictured on the left is another harbor sketch by Skiddy showing the Bay of Pisco on the coast of Peru.

William T. Skiddy was an artist, naval architect, Captain and an entrepreneur. In 1805 at the age of ten he signed on as a cabin boy aboard the packet ship the ROSE-IN-BLOOM. After a voyage to Charleston, S.C. he returned to New York City and become an assistant steward for his step-father, John R. Skiddy, a ship captain of Stamford and New York.

With the exception of his three years of schooling in France he stayed in the merchant service until 1812. He then spent eight months as a prisoner of war when the crew of the Brig STEPHEN was captured by the British frigate ANDROMACHE. The day after his release he joined the US Navy and received his Midshipman's commission from President Madison. Captain James Lawrence ordered him to report to the HORNET as a master-mate where he served under the command of Captain James Biddle for the duration of the war.

In 1816 he returned to merchant service where he was given the command of the ship MARIA THERESA. He was in the South Pacific during the blockade of Callao by Lord Cochrane, at which time he ran the blockade and brought away the Spanish Viceroy of Peru.

During his many voyages along the Pacific coast he surveyed and charted many of the ports he visited including the Gulf of California chart selected as this months Staff Pick.

In 1844 he entered into the naval construction business with his half-brother Francis. Soon after he was appointed by the US government to superintend the construction of the Collins steamers, which were used as mail steamers.

During his life at sea, Capt. Skiddy kept a journal, and at some point in his life he transcribed them into two volumes entitled "The Ups and Downs of a Sea Life from 1805" which are excellent description of life at sea are also part of Mystic Seaport's wonderful collections.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mystic Seaport Whaleboat Featured in new Smithsonian Maritime Exhibit

The National Museum of American History’s newest exhibit “On the Water, Stories from Maritime America” features a 8,500-square-foot exhibition hall dedicated to the exploration of America’s maritime heritage. In a recent interview, Museum Director Brent D. Glass explained that “The maritime influence on American history is one of the most compelling chapters in the national story,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Among the highlighted objects on display are Mystic Seaports’ own whale boat (1958.690), and a highly detailed model cutaway of the modern factory trawler “Alaska Ocean” by recent exhibitor and world class model maker Erik R. Ronnberg Jr.

If you can’t make it to Washington soon, the companion Web site to “On the Water” contains the same historical content as the physical exhibition. The site also features a searchable database that provides additional information and photographs for selected artifacts in the exhibition. Multimedia resources and educational activities, including an associated Flickr group where visitors can upload their own maritime-related imagery, round out the online experience.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New England Regional Fellowship Consortium News

Two winners of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Fellowship contest will be conducting research at the Library this year. Michael Block from the University of Southern California will be researching New England Merchants, the China Trade, and the Origins of California and John Wong from Harvard University, whose focus is Global Positioning: China Trade and the Hong Merchants of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

The Consortium, which includes institution such as the Baker Library (Harvard, the Boston Athenæum, Bostonian Society, Maine Historical Society and the Mass. Historical Society hands out 10 $5,000 Fellowships each year with fellows required to visit at least 3 institutions for two weeks apiece for research.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tattoo Exhibit Makes New York Times

Last Sunday's New York Times reviewed Independence Seaport's great exhibit "Skin & Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor". The review does an excellent job of explaining the history and tattoo, especially in the maritime world. While not mentioned in the article the exhibit does contain a number of items loaned from Mystic Seaport's Collections including the C. H. Fellowes sketchbook.

Slideshow of images from the exhibit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Season of Song and Sloops

Just as the Museum is gearing up for Sea Music, a new book on Pete Seegar has been released. To Everything There is a Season: Pete Seegar and the Power of Song "describes how folk singer Pete Seeger applied his musical talents to improve conditions for less fortunate people everywhere. This book uses Seeger's long life and wonderful songs to reflect on the important role folk music played in various protest movements and to answer such fundamental questions as: What was the source of Seeger's appeal? How did he capture the attention and affection of people around the world? And why is song such a powerful medium?"

The book also relates how it was "a young man at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport" that helped Pete find naval architect Cy Hamlin and design the iconic Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Visitors

The CRC was visited today by a group of world renown scrimshaw authorities who were wrapping up their tour of the East Coast scrimshaw collections at New Bedford, Nantucket, Sag Harbor and Cold Springs. The Visitors were especially impressed by the range and uniqueness of Mystic's collection including a set of walrus tusks carved by members of the USN Polar Exploration team aboard the JEANETTE, and an elephant tusk section engraved with a scene of a the "slaver SHARK."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Maritime Connections- Cornelius Vanderbilt

Newly released, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, is getting lots of rave reviews. This 736 page book details the life and impact of a man who began his career as a boatman and ended up as America's first big tycoon. Hopefully this book will also cover the huge impact Vanderbilt had on yachting. From racing to yacht design to commuters, Vanderbilt was a major force in the development of the sport. (Actually, if it doesn't, this book is missing a great deal).

Formally posed image of Cornelius Vanderbilt III (1873-1942) standing posed on the deck of, most likely, his new steam yacht, NORTH STAR, which was bought in 1903. Commodore Vanderbilt is dressed in formal yacht clothing holding a telescope crooked in one arm. Commodore Vanderbilt was commodore of the New York Yacht Club from 1906-1908. B.1984.187.457

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Antiques Road Show Debut

Three paintings from the Collections were featured on last night's "Antiques Road Show". These included the Jennie R. Dubois by S. M.F. Badger, the "New York Yacht Club Race, 1875" by James Buttersworth, and John S. Blunt's painting of the 74 gun ship America.

Thanks go to Michael O'Farrell for lining up the "Show", and Maribeth Bielinski and Krystal Kornegay for doing all of the research and the legwork.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A sextant belonging to Captain James Earle, master of the Charles W. Morgan during nine of her voyages between 1890 and 1908, was recently given to the Museum. The sextant and case was a generous donation from a gentleman from Georgia who acquired it years earlier at an auction of the Barbara Johnson Whaling Collection. Barbara Johnson's collection was known as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) private whaling collections ever assembled. We are ecstatic to have this new piece added to the Museum's collection while the Morgan is being restored.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Distinguished Visitors

Yesterday, May 5th, 30 archivist from China, in association with a program hosted by Yale University, visited the Collections Research Center to learn about Mystic Seaport's manuscript cataloging practices and view items from the Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection.

They were particularly interested in items relating to China Trade such as the Opium papers in the Howard A. Krumwiede Collection and the early folios. (As are we all!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Book

The Fisherman's Cause: Atlantic Commerce and Maritime Dimensions of the American Revolution is described as "In the first book-length examination of the connections between the commercial fishing industry in colonial America and the American Revolution, Christopher Magra places the origins and progress of this formative event in a wider Atlantic context. The Fisherman's Cause utilizes extensive research from archives in the United States [including Mystic Seaport], Canada, and the U.K. in order to take this Atlantic approach."

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Hours

Beginning the week of May 4, 2009 the Collections Access and Research Room will be open for Independent, Visiting Researchers:

10:00-5:00 Thursday and Friday.

To better serve our visitors we strongly encourage a call or email ahead.

Monday, April 20, 2009


The Collections Access Room is temporarily unavailable, reopening on May 8. Please excuse the interruption in service while we update our processes and schedule to insure excellent ongoing collections access. We will post an update as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

The Collections Research Center Staff

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Power in Maritime America

The Papers from the Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Power in Maritime America Conference Held at Mystic Seaport, September 2006, are now available. The book contains 12 papers, "all offer a wide range of ways in which gender, race and ethnicity are entwined and redefined in the context of the sea."

I was lucky enough to attend many of the sessions represented in the book. They were good then, but it is excellent now to have such detailed scholarship in print. From Jason Mancini's exploration of the previously hidden nature of Native American involvement in maritime occupations from 1713-1861, to Deanne Nuwer's discussion of the vital role played by women in Biloxi's seafood industry from 1863 to the present, the papers represent the range and depth of the maritime experience and the historical work undertaken to understand it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Costumes of the Mediterranean - Misc. Vol. 464

Now Online - Book containing hand colored drawings by Edward C. Young. Drawn in 1830, images include the costumes of several nationalities as seen in a number of Mediterranean ports, primarily Smyrna, Turkey. Clergy, military, merchants, townspeople, and servants of the Sultan's court are pictured as well the USS Concord's, Sergeant, Band Member and Boatswains Mate.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Title

Just released today, I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech, extensively cites Mystic Seaport's Origins of Sea Terms.

Who knew that sea slag would be retro! This new book explores popular terms such as "cut and run" which evolved from the habit of sailor who needed to leave the harbor so quickly, they would cut the lines and run, and many others.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

News from Cataloging Services

Just wanted to share with you some of the exciting collections newly available, thanks to our dedicated volunteers and staff. These collection registers can be viewed online from the Manuscript Collection Register page ( and our Access team is always ready to help or answer your questions. They can be reached by phone (572-5367), e-mail (, or by visiting Wednesday through Friday, 10-5 in the Access Reading Room in the CRC.

Philip LeBoutillier Collection (Coll. 352): 1932-1953, consists of four scrapbooks and loose papers containing newspaper and magazine clippings, letters, photographs, brochures, sail race results and banquet menus as well as racing history pertaining to several yachts owned by yachstman, businessman and philanthropist Philip LeBoutillier (1880-1972) including STORMY WEATHER (built 1934), VIKING (built 1930), ALSUMAR (built 1930) and NANCY (built 1932).

Philip LeBoutillier (Oct. 20, 1880 - Feb. 1, 1972) was a New York yachtsman, businessman and philanthropist whose 54-foot yawl, STORMY WEATHER, won both the trans-Atlantic Newport-to-Bergen race and the Fastnet in 1935, and, in 1936, was the Bermuda Race Class A winner. Besides STORMY WEATHER, designed by Sparkman & Stephens in 1933/34, LeBoutillier owned and captained VIKING, a 49-foot cutter designed by F. Jay Wells in 1930; ALSUMAR, a 44-foot auxiliary sloop (30 meter class) designed by Sparkman & Stephens in 1930, and , as part of the Seawanhaka-Corinthian Syndicate, the six-meter sloop, NANCY, built in 1932.

Yachting lore has it that LeBoutillier had not decided on a name for what would become STORMY WEATHER as she was being built at the Henry B. Nevins Yard, City Island, New York in late 1933 and into '34. However, just before launching, LeBoutillier and friends were at a club in Montauk, Long Island, and listened as a young singer delivered a song that much appealed to him. He called the singer over to his table and asked her to sing it again. Lena Horne agreed, and the song, "Stormy Weather," made a name for LeBoutillier's new yawl as it did for Lena Horne.

LeBoutiller also had been asked by the original owner of ALSUMAR not to keep that sloop's name because it was derived from the names of the first owner's wife and two daughters. LeBoutillier politely declined to accede to the first owner's wishes, saying he was superstitious about changing the original name of a horse, a dog or, as it happened, a boat.

At the height of his business career, LeBoutiller was president of Best & Co., a department store specializing in women's clothing and children's wear. He was known for his generous wage and salary policies and for promoting from within. As the New York Times said in its obituary of LeBoutillier, published on Feb. 2, 1972: "He set up one of the first pension plans for employes as early as 1919, and few workers left Best & Co., with many continuing after marriage and with the arrival of children."

LeBoutillier was also regarded for his philanthropy, particularly his work for underprivileged boys. According to the Times, he raised $600,000 for the Boys' Club of New York, and was an organizer of the National Child Labor Committee, a group opposed to child labor.

He resided on East 70th St. in New York and Lake Placid, NY, and died in a nursing home in 1972 in Greenwich, CT.

Noank Shipyard Collection (Coll. 353): 1943-2000, of the Noank Shipyard in Connecticut. Includes a variety of manuscript materials and newspaper clippings. The manuscript materials contain information concerning boating safety legislation and taxes, correspondence, bills of sale for vessels purchased by the yard and miscellaneous drawings and notes. The clippings cover topics including Noank and Groton, Connecticut history, the development of the shipyard and its purchase by Donald Singer in 1964, the EMMA C. BERRY, the Noank Historical Society and their work, Tropical Storm Doria, the beaching of a whale in Noank, other miscellaneous boats and topics, zoning disputes over the expansion of the yard and finally its sale.

The Noank Shipyard was originally organized by brothers John and Robert Palmer in 1850. Both had previously worked with their father John Palmer various locations around Noank. The new shipyard was officially named "R. & J. Palmer" but was generally referred to by locals as simply the "Palmer yard." Robert took full control of the company in 1879 after his brother's death and then brought his own son Robert Jr. into partnership in 1880. The yard was then officially renamed Robert Palmer and Son Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Company. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the shipyard was the largest facility for building and repair of wooden vessels in southern New England, employing over 300 men. The yard specialized in building railroad car floats, schooner barges, and dump scows as well as fishing smacks. Robert Palmer and Son went out of business in 1914 with the passing of the Robert Jr. who was also known in Noank as "Deacon" Palmer because of his close and active connections to the Noank Baptist church. During World War I the yard was reactivated by the Groton Iron Works but fell into general disuse until another resurgence of activity during World War II. After the second world war the yard once again fell into disrepair until Donald Singer purchased it in 1964. Singer turned the old shipyard into a model marina catering to the post war boom in pleasure boating. After a series of zoning disputes Singer sold the Noank shipyard in 1980. Today, under new ownership, the Noank Shipyard is still a very active marina and repair facility and remains, as was the case with it's predecessors, a focal point of life in the village of Noank.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Primary Sources Online

The Navigation Workbook, ca. 1820, of Joseph Robinson is now online at the request of the Education Department who plans to use the workbook as part of an off-site math class. The workbook contains rules and problems for plane, traverse, Mercator's current and middle latitude sailing, instructions for keeping a journal, description and use of Hadley's quadrant, use of log line and half-minute glass, rules for correcting dead reckoning, illustration, and sketches. It also has some great drawings. (this one of the mariners compass is now my desktop background)

Making Freedom: the Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith

The Collections have again been tapped for a ground breaking book: Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith (Includes Bibliographical References and Index) "is the first in-depth exploration of the life of Venture Smith (1728–1805), a New England slave who was sold into bondage as a boy in Africa and labored for nearly a quarter-century before purchasing his own freedom and transforming himself into a highly respected American citizen." Many of the events in this remarkable life all took place within 50 miles of Mystic Seaport and in addition to revealing the trials of 18th century slavery also tell a story of how integral the maritime experience was to the local inhabitants.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fee Increase

As of March 18, 2009, the following fees apply to Collection products and research:

Ships Plan copy $40.00/sheet
Personal research $50.00/hour
Commercial research: $75.00/hour

All order taken prior to March 18th will be processed at the previous rate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hear the Boat Sing

Goran Buckhorn, Mystic Seaport's rowing expert, started a blog dedicated to rowing last week. In Goran's own words the blog will cover "all aspects of the rich history of rowing, as a sport, culture phenomena, a life style, and a necessary element to keep your wit and stay sane." So far his posts have reviewed some great books on rowing history.

This weekend he posted on the National Rowing Hall of Fame, located in the G.W. Blunt White building.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire

Just out today, Gerard Koeppel's newest book Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire delves deeply into the promoters and politicians who brought the canal into existence, and most importantly includes references to MSM's diary of Christopher Prince, 1821-1825. The diary is part of the Records of the American Seamen's Friend Society.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Joffre (schooner) located

Reputedly a sister ship of the L. A. Dunton, the Joffre has been discovered off the coast of Gloucester. Like the Dunton, the Joffre was designed by renowned naval architect Thomas F. McManus, and built at the Arthur D. Story of Essex, MA. Unlike the Dunton her career ended when her engine caught fire as she was returning to Gloucester, MA on the evening of 9 August 1947 and She subsequently sunk. For more information...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The New London Jibboom Club

Bill Peterson's, the Collections' Carl C. Cutler Chair of Maritime History, history of New London's seaman's fraternal organization is featured this month in the Hog River Journal.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

North American Society of Oceanic Historians (NASOH)

Registration for annual conference (13-17 May 2009) of the North American
Society of Oceanic Historians (NASOH) is now live. Please visit
for full registration details.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

News from Cataloging Services

Newly cataloged items from the Daniel S. Gregory Ships Plans Library include construction detail illustrations of the CHARLES W. MORGAN by noted marine artist and one-time staff member Kathy L. Bray. These exquisite and highly detailed illustrations are not only works of art but they offer documentation of original construction techniques used on the CHARLES W. MORGAN in addition to providing guidance to museum shipwrights during on-going restoration projects today. You can view the images online at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rudder Magazine Online!

Right now, at that very computer under your fingertips, you can view the first edition of Rudder Magazine. Published in 1890 this edition is the first of many that Mystic Seaport will be putting online. As to the final format, that is under discussion. Please page through, think about the possibilities and make suggestions.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking the Sea: Perilous Waters, Sunken Ships, and the True Story of the Legendary Wrecker Captains

Dennis M. Power's newest book, Taking the Sea: Perilous Waters, Sunken Ships, and the True Story of the Legendary Wrecker Captains, tells the story of the wreckers, men who "faced the savage seas to save foundering ships and frightened passengers."

By the mid-19th century, an intrepid, reckless group of men ruled the ocean. Known as “wreckers,” they earned their living by rescuing and raising sunken ships, even in the face of monstrous waves and fierce weather. To some, they were heroes, helping to rescue both passengers and ships with courage and skill. To others they were ruthless pirates, who exploited these shipwrecks purely for their treasure.

Powers introduction gives a shout out to Amy German and Wendy Schnur for their assistance in researching the book, especially their help with material on Merritt, Scott and Chapman, of which there is a great deal in the Collections.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mothers of the Sea - Female Lighthouse Keepers

Mystic Seaport's Bethany Bromwell is the proud new author of Mothers of the Sea: Female Lighthouse Keepers and Their Image and Role Within Society ,
the definitive work on women lighthouse keepers.

Lighthouses are an endearing symbol of our nation's nautical past. However, these structures are quickly disappearing from the landscape and with them often go their history and the important part that they played in the development of the United States. The stories of the men and women who cared for these structures during their times of use are also lost. This book examines the often overlooked role of the female lighthouse keeper. Female keepers were women who took on a traditionally masculine position. They held a government job and performed intense physical labor at a time when women were considered incapable of such jobs. This study examines the history of individual female lighthouse keepers and the contributions they made within the context of maritime history and public policy, as these issues related to American and British society over the last 200 years. It also considers the affects that governmental changes had on these women and what role they have played in popular culture both in the past and today.

As a past, fascinating, and informative presenter at the Maritime Lunchure, Bethany graduated from Gettysburg College in 2006 where she majored in History. In May, 2008 she graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a Masters in Public History. She currently works at Mystic Seaport where she continues to research women and the sea.

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