Sarah Anne Island by Jessica Eichlin


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Hello readers!

My name is Jessica and I’ve been a volunteer at The Mariners’ Museum Library for just over a year now. I am transcribing a set of logbooks from a 1850s whaling voyage right now, which includes a log from the captain, his wife, and his ten year old daughter. The variety of perspectives in these logs gives a great insight into life at sea during the mid-nineteenth century. The logs, while slightly different in their content, all mention every day happenings on board the ship, whether it be fish that were caught, repairs that were made, or business affairs. In addition, they also mention the location of the ship whether anchored at a port, visiting an island, or even just passing a landmark.


As the logs mention these places, I have been charting their voyage and pinpointing where they were at a certain point in time. On December 10 or 11, 1854, the ship Alice Frazier passed the Sarah Anne Island. Both mother and daughter mentioned seeing this island, and I looked it up as usual to chart on my map. Unfortunately, the Sarah Anne Island does not exist. I could not find records for it anywhere, so I thought maybe it was a ship. No luck, because the mother’s log would have mentioned it being a ship instead of an island. I kept digging, and finally found out that the Sarah Anne WAS an island… one that had existed for a brief period of time between 1858 and 1932. Claimed by the Guano Islands Act in 1858, the island was used as a supply for guano, or bird dung, for fertilizer use.


Oceania, 1861, MSM1274, MSM1, Collection of Antique and Rare Maps, The Library at The Mariners’ Museum


The Alice Frazier passed the Sarah Anne on December 10, 1854, according to the mother’s logbook, four years before it was officially claimed in the Islands Act. The island appears on maps published in 1861 as well as in 1910, but does not appear on any maps after 1932. A solar eclipse in 1937 prompted researchers to search for the island in 1932 as it would have been the perfect location to view the eclipse, but the island was nowhere to be found.

5 thoughts on “Sarah Anne Island by Jessica Eichlin”

  1. Hi Jessica,
    could you please provide me with the coordinates that the log book mentions concerning the sighting of Sarah Ann Island.
    Thank you very much.

    1. According to Raymond H. Ramsay’s book, “No Longer on the Map: Discovering Places That Never Were”, he says that Sarah Anne Island was located 175° W and just north of the equator (Page 215). In Jimmy M. Skagg’s book, “The Great Guano Rush: Entrepreneurs and American Overseas Expansion”, he provides the coordinates for the island’s alleged location: 4°N 154°22’W (Page 235).

  2. Hi Aya,
    I have Ramsay’s book. I Bought it specially for Sarah Ann Island couple of months ago. Did not at all know about Skagg’s book, much thanks for that update. There is a yet a great gap in both longitudes.
    J.N. Reynolds 1828 report of reefs, islands etc. mentions both Sarah Ann’s and Sarah Anne Island, mixes them up.
    One is suspiciously close to Jarvis Island.
    And then there is someone who says it’s actually Malden island or Fanning island caused by a transposition error.
    What I really do need right now is the verbatim (sic) lines that are mentioned in the log book, the coordinates and the story itself. Which I hope you can provide me with.

    If not, much obliged anyhow.


  3. P.S
    I’d like to email you in private about another subject. Perhaps you could assist me there in answering several questions concerning another island: Jarvis or Bunker.
    Since I do not have access to microfilm around the world’s libraries the only library willing to answer questions regarding that is the New South Whales library. I am kinda stuck in my research on Jarvis Island.

    Let me know what you think