The Emancipation Proclamation: What did it actually say and mean for African Americans in the 1860s?

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Abraham Lincoln. The Mariners’ Museum MS0311/-01#005

Do a Google search for important documents in US history and you get lists that include the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and of course, the Emancipation Proclamation.

Going to school in the mid to late 80s in the panhandle of Florida, it was constantly being drilled into my head that the Emancipation Proclamation, written in 1863, freed all slaves in the United States of America. Having studied the Emancipation Proclamation document for various positions that I have held over the years, I have come to understand the significance of this important document so much more.    Read more

The Spanish Flu in Hampton Roads  

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King Alfonso XIII of Spain, ca. 1916. Kaulak, photographer. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Public domain.

 

I had a little bird,   Read more

Native American Heritage Month~ Explored Through the Adney Collection of Canoe Models

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Edwin Tappan Adney 1868-1950. Courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Welcome to one of the Interpretation Department’s obsessions! The Edwin Tappan Adney collection at The Mariners’ Museum and Park include 120 canoe models. Adney lived from 1868-1950. He was from the United States but fell in love with canoes when he was on vacation in Canada at the age of 19. For Adney, building canoe models was not a hobby. He felt that it was his duty to document as many of the boats as he could. The models were made ¼ sized and sometimes ⅕ sized. He learned some of the building methods from Native builders. For example, Frank Atwin, Passamaquoddy, was one of his teachers. This is an outstanding photograph, showing the size of the models. 

Adney’s plan was to use the models to illustrate a book about the canoes. Unfortunately, the Depression meant that there were no backers for his idea. He then attempted to sell the models to several different museums, but again, he had no takers. Adney ended up using them as collateral for a $1,000 loan. The Museum’s buyers heard about this, paid off the loan and the $424 interest (!). Upon his death, Adney’s son donated all his papers, notes, sketches, and writings to the Museum.    Read more

Built with WHAT??! Bones, Hair, and Prisoners: Model Ships of War

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This is an image from The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger, dated 1538. Public Domain

Model ships made of bone. On this Halloween Eve, that’s a strange and sort of mysterious idea. It might seem even a little bit creepy to think about.

Who would think to use discarded bones to create something as beautiful as a model ship?    Read more

Under the Influence of Empire: Whistler’s Naval Review Etchings

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Blogger’s Note:  This post has been adapted from the research I did for my MA qualifying project, and I hope it will help to familiarize you with not only my work but my style. A major reason I’ve been drawn to Whistler’s work is the pervasive interest in waterscapes and watercraft shown throughout his corpus. As I’ll begin to unpack here, too, his work and biography are deserving of more critical attention. Historical figures are rarely as simpleor as innocentas they are often made out to be.

Introduction

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), an American expat and major figure of nineteenth-century European and American art, was and remains best known for his disavowal of the more communicative functions of art in favor of what he espoused as “art for art’s sake,” an idea he preached publicly and vociferously. Whistler has also been noted for his big, entertaining, if also irascible, personality, a reputation he carefully cultivated. His biography is littered with coming-to-blows episodes with patrons and colleagues. Whistler actually published the correspondence from these episodes in a memoir of sorts, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. Often described as “cosmopolitan,” Whistler’s transnationalism certainly did inform his artwork, not least through his sometimes-radical adaptations of East Asian aesthetics. One aspect of his career that has been overshadowed by his flamboyant personality and artistic innovations is that Whistler was an artist in an age of empire. The effects and influence of imperialism were not only formative but informed some key works of his mature career. These key works include the etchings in his Naval Review set from 1887.   Read more