Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Resource for Scholarship at Mystic Seaport

Each year, hundreds of researchers visit the G.W. Blunt White Library in the Collections Research Center to take advantage of one of the finest collections of primary and secondary materials relating to American maritime history. Those that use the collection include historians, other scholars, genealogists, artists, students, teachers, history hobbyists, commercial users and more. Annually, a segment of academic users make their way to Mystic via the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, of which the G.W. Blunt White Library is a founding member. For over a decade, NERFC, a collaboration of 21 major cultural agencies, has been awarding fellowships to scholars. The Consortium will offer at least 15 awards in 2016–2017, and each grant will provide a stipend of $5,000 for a minimum of eight weeks of research at participating institutions. Awards are open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who hold the necessary U.S. government documents. Grants are designed to encourage projects that draw on the resources of several agencies.
Each itinerary must:
·         be a minimum of eight weeks
·         include at least three different member institutions, and
·         include at least two weeks at each of these institutions.
The following scholars have visited, or will visit, the Library in 2015. Along with their name and affiliation, each fellow has provided a short description of their project. We are honored to have such qualified individuals take advantage of the broad collections available at Mystic Seaport.
Cynthia Bouton, Texas A & M Univ.- Subsistence, Society, Commerce, and Culture in the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution - The era of Atlantic Revolutions witnessed an acceleration in the circulation and commodification of subsistence foods, and reorganized social and political links in provisioning chains.  Revolutionary debates politicized property, production, distribution, and consumption in historically specific ways.  This book project studies staple food production, marketplace interaction, entangled trade networks, government policies, and consumer practices to understand shifting food regimes in the international Atlantic. 

Dan Du, Univ. of Georgia– This World in a Teacup: Sino-American Tea Trade in the Nineteenth Century -The Sino-American tea trade during the nineteenth century was a crucial element in Chinese-American relations and the economic transformation of global capitalism. Tea, as a key staple in the international market and one of the largest imports into the United States, illuminates multilateral economic and cultural connections and clashes among the U.S., China, Great Britain, Japan, and India. This project will explore the influence of the tea trade on American material culture. Embargo of tea during the Revolution sparked patriotism in American towns, but historians of the republic consigned tea consumption to oblivion. However, it remained prevalent. It witnessed the making of American cultural, national identity, particularly when compared with English and Chinese tea culture. Furthermore, since consumption allowed capitalism to shape social relations and instill its spirit among ordinary people, tea consumption, which was promoted by marketing and advertising, crystallized the ethos of the nineteenth-century society dissected by class, gender, and race.

Univ. of Georgia Ph.D. candidate, Dan Du, exploring logbooks in the collection.

Andrew Edwards, Princeton Univ. - Money and the American Revolution- Andrew’s research concerns two events, one well known, the other relatively obscure: the American Revolution and the currency revolution in American money.  Over the course of the Revolutionary War, money in American conception and practice changed from measure to metal. This transition, from a ‘unit of account’ to a commodity currency, defined in terms of gold and silver, has long typically gone unremarked under the assumption - shared by many historians - that money is neutral in American political history and that such development is part of the natural course of things, if not entirely uncontested. It is Andrew’s intention to challenge this assumption.

Kathryn Lasdow, Columbia Univ. – “Spirit of Improvement”: Construction, Conflict, and Community in Early-National Port Cities – From 1789 to 1830, budding capitalists advanced a vision for American cities that placed ports at the center of promise and prosperity. But Americans across the social spectrum disagreed over the designs and material realities of port construction. Some city dwellers questioned whether these projects were truly “improvements” at all, arguing they infringed on the property rights of small land- and wharf-owners and displaced entire neighborhoods. Some residents turned to lawsuits, mob violence, and the destruction of building sites to halt impending construction. This dissertation examines this dialectic between capitalist urban planning and community response in early-nineteenth-century American port cities.

Gregory Rosenthal, SUNY Stony Brook – Hawaiians who left Hawaiʻi: Work, Body, and Environment in the Pacific World, 1786-1876- For decades, historians have written of the Atlantic World as an historical arena of transoceanic exchange and the circulation of people, goods, and ideas among African, European, and American actors. But only recently have historians begun to use the same tools to reconstruct histories of other transoceanic spaces, such as the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Gregory’s project contributes to the study of the nineteenth-century Pacific World by focusing on the paths traveled within and beyond Hawaiʻi by Native Hawaiian wage workers in the transoceanic economy. For nearly a century, from the 1780s to the 1870s, Hawaiian men labored in extractive industries all across the Pacific, from China to Hawaiʻi to California and on ships at sea. Hawaiian workers extracted sea otter furs, sandalwood, bird guano, whale oil, cattle hides, gold, and other commodities. All of these trades were of global economic significance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By placing Hawaiian working-class actors at the center of nineteenth-century Pacific history, Gregory argues that the movement and mobility of Hawaiians across the ocean in search of work was a key component of trans-Pacific integration.

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