One Name, Two Ships, Three Stories

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Colored lithograph of Steamship Arago
Colored Lithograph of Steamship Arago. 1941.0492.000001. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Have you ever gotten the sense that something is following you around? Maybe there is a phrase, word, song, or something else that just keeps popping up in unexpected places, and you’re not sure why? That happened to me recently, and the product is this blog post!

It started with a research project. You see, I was recently reading through the final draft of a book that I edited with Dr. Jonathan White, entitled  My Work Among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss. For this book, I transcribed the correspondence of Harriet Buss, a teacher from Massachusetts who moved to South Carolina during the Civil War to teach freedpeople. Buss wrote to her parents regularly, and was detailed in her description of her travels. In traveling back and forth from New England to the coast of South Carolina throughout 1863, Buss frequently boarded the Steamer Arago, and several of her letters bear this heading! When I first transcribed these letters, I honestly didn’t think much about the fact that she was on the Steamer Arago, beyond the contextual research on the vessel. I found her descriptions interesting, and her tales of travel occasionally amusing. I also gagged a little when she described the “quart tin vomiting cup” that accompanied every berth on the ship. [1]   Read more

Are You Shore You Want To Do That?

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Diagram of Wetland Ecosystems. Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Have you ever taken a visit to Lions Bridge and wondered why there are “No Trespassing” signs stopping you from sun-bathing on that oh-so-tempting perfect little river beach? The short answer is to prevent shoreline erosion and protect wildlife. The long answer is below…

What is a wetland?

The Shoreline Area at Lions Bridge is a wetland, my favorite type of ecosystem. Wetlands are transitional ecosystems between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that flourish with life. Simply, a wetland is a habitat between a body of water and a piece of dry land. Each type of aquatic system correlates with a wetland system. For example, an estuarine wetland would be the transition between an estuary and land, while a riverine wetland corresponds to a wetland near a river. To qualify as a wetland, an area must meet certain criteria: presence of water at or near the surface, hydric soils, and vegetation adapted to wet conditions.    Read more

Tied up in rope conservation and more! 

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SEM at ARC William and Mary
Molly carefully inserting a wooden sample in the SEM chamber and the computer monitor displaying a previous sample image

I have been meaning to write a blog about progress on the Monitor ropes but, although archaeological objects conservators are currently focused on this part of the collection, we do all sorts of other things that I thought would also be interesting to share with you. 

If you have not done so yet, check out Laurie’s latest blogs about the gun sponge she has been treating lately. It looks so good!!    Read more