Sarah Anne Island by Jessica Eichlin

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

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.   Read more

New Library Exhibit!

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The Library’s inaugural exhibit “Keepers of the Sea: Logbooks from The Mariners’ Museum Library” has opened in our new exhibit area.

“Keepers of the Sea” comprises logbooks and artifacts highlighting the library’s vast collection of records from various ships throughout the 18th to 20th centuries.  The exhibit uses the logbooks to narrate experiential aspects of life at sea, including family life, whaling, and the trials of sailing.  It also illustrates the many ways in which logbooks and journals allowed for technical documentation, diary-style writing, mapping, painting and drawing, charting, and record of correspondence.   Read more

Animal Encounters

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Whale drawings, Logbook #019

One Saturday in March of 1864, a man aboard the whale ship John P. West wrote in his journal, “My Pidgeon layed 4 eggs.”  He also documented the day that his dog fell overboard (Logbook #027).  Nine years earlier Asenath Taber, daughter of a whaler, noted the “beautiful little chicken” her family had on board their ship (Logbook #002).  For these and other people at sea, animals could provide food, serve as companions, and bestow a sense of comfort during what were often years-long journeys abroad.

The life of a whaler was often one of extremes – some days were exciting, with several whales encountered and caught, while others were long and lonely, with nothing on the horizon and feelings of listlessness and homesickness setting in.  Sightings of whales and other animals receive frequent note in many of the journals, with log keepers recording a variety of wild encounters, including sperm whales, right whales, turtles, porpoises, Portugese man o’ war, an array of birds and fish, and – as the log keeper aboard the Courser states rather ominously in his entry from October 6, 1860 – “Monsters of the Deep” (Logbook #300).   Read more