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 ilovelibraries.org. 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

ILoveLibraries.org, 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.

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