The National Maritime Historical Society

NMHS Receives Grant from the Philadelphia Foundation for Ernestina Documentary Series

The National Maritime Historical Society is pleased to report that it has received a grant of $200,000 from the H.F. Lenfest Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation for its documentary series Sails Over Ice and Seas: The Life and Times of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  On behalf of our Vice Chairman/Film Producer Richardo Lopes and all the trustees of the National Maritime Historical Society, we thank Mr. and Mrs. Lenfest for this most generous gift which will allow us to complete production and initial editing of the series.  For a glimpse of the upcoming series, watch the trailer.

Credit: Susan S. Bank, Boston Globe

Ernestina-Morrissey is America’s story.  Now a National Historic Landmark, she joined thousands of her sister ships as she was launched from the shores of Essex, Massachusetts in 1894.  The documentary’s four one-hour episodes will each focus on a distinct era of her 124 year history – from her start as she fished and carried cargo out of Gloucester, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (1894–1925); explored the Arctic regions with Captain Bob Bartlett (1926–1945); traversed the Atlantic as a Cape Verde Packet trader bringing immigrants and cargo to and from the shores of America (1948–1968); and advanced educational programming and sail training for people of all ages (1982–present).  In her wake, Ernestina-Morrissey has left a diverse and indelible mark on America’s history and her future, and we are grateful to the H.F. Lenfest Fund for making this documentary series possible!

Click here to see the trailer for Sails Over Ice and Seas: The Life and Times of the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey.  For additional information, please contact us at nmhs@seahistory.org.

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NMHS Receives National Maritime Heritage Grant

We are thrilled to report that the National Maritime Historical Society has received a $50,000 matching grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the National Maritime Heritage (NMH) grant program for its maritime library and digital collections project.  Thirty-four grants totaling $2.6 million were awarded to deserving organizations across the country in collaboration with the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs). With these funds, organizations and agencies conduct education and preservation projects designed to preserve historic maritime resources and to increase public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the United States.  You can read the full NPS press release here.

As part of its Education-category project for which the Society will receive the maximum grant amount, we will assess, catalog, digitize and preserve our 8,000 volume maritime library, making it accessible to the public both online and in our physical location.  The project also includes assessing, cataloging, digitizing and preserving the Society’s extensive archives collection, including over 3,000 photographs, maps, charts, vessel plans, pamphlets, newspaper articles, works of art, ship models and fragments of maritime structures and objects.  Upon completion, the public will be able to visit the library to access its physical collections as well as to access the library and digital archives database online, ensuring that that the broadest audience of historians, researchers, teachers, students and the public at large will be able to utilize the organization’s treasure trove of maritime books, archives and artifacts.  We look forward to working with the National Park Service on this exciting project, and to sharing our progress with you all!

We also wish to congratulate all the recipients of this year’s round of awards and are excited about the preservation and education projects that will soon be underway across the country, including the Maritime Museum Association of San Diego’s Star of India, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Association’s USS Pampanito, Mystic Seaport’s L.A. Dunton, Project Liberty Ship’s SS John W. Brown, Destroyer Escort Historical Museum’s USS Slater, Seaport Museum’s Wavertree, and education projects by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, USS Constitution Museum, New Bedford Whaling Museum and so many more!  For a complete list of recipients and brief descriptions of their projects, go the Maritime Heritage Grant Program Recipients page.

For more information on the National Maritime Historical Society Maritime Library and Digital Collections project, please contact us at nmhs@seahistory.org. For questions regarding the NMH grant program, or to comment on this or any other proposed NMH grant project, please contact Kelly Spradley-Kurowski, National Maritime Heritage Program Manager, at (202) 354-2266.

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Save the Date! New York City Pickle Night is 9 November

CREDIT: I Have Urgent Dispatches by Gordon Frickers

This year marks the 213th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and the 14th New York City Pickle Night Dinner will mark this history shaping event on 9 November 2018.  Those who appreciate the historical significance of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and the lore associated with his life are invited to attend this special event.  The Dinner is named for HM Schooner Pickle, which participated in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and which brought the news to Britain of Nelson’s victory and death in the battle. This event has been a perennial success, with guests from the Ticket price is $295 per person. Dress is black tie or military equivalent. United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and elsewhere.

Antony Phillipson, Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York is the Honorary Dinner Chairman.

Vice Admiral Tony Radakin, Second Sea Lord, Royal Navy, will be the main speaker.  Most recently Chief of Staff of the Joint Forces Command, his initial duty assignments have included officer of the watch in HMS LEEDS CASTLE, navigator in HMS ANDROMEDA, commanding officer in HMS BLAZER and operations officer HMS BEAVER.  Subsequent assignments include both shore and afloat duty in the Royal Navy and international commands including security duties in the Falklands, NATO embargo operations in the Adriatic, as well as escort duties in the Iran/Iraq Tanker War, and countering smuggling in Hong Kong and the Caribbean. While serving with the Naval Training Team in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star by the United States government. VAdm Radakin is a qualified barrister, and has also graduated from several military related courses in the U.S.  His operational and academic experience gives him a special operator’s perspective on the Royal Navy and Lord Nelson.l

Space is limited.  For reservations or additional information, please contact email Sally McElwreath Callo or call (212)972 8667.

The American Friends of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, our sponsor, is recognized as a tax exempt organization. The Nelson Society, The 1805 Club and the National Maritime Historical Society also support this event.

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Sunken Gold: Seminar with Joseph Williams on 20 June

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Join us Wednesday, 20 June 2018 for The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History, a presentation and book signing with Joseph A. Williams.  See the author’s riveting book trailer here.

On January 25, 1917, HMS Laurentic struck two German mines off the coast of Ireland and sank. The ship was carrying 44 tons of gold bullion to the still-neutral United States via Canada in order to finance the war effort for Britain and its allies. Britain desperately needed that sunken treasure, but any salvage had to be secret since the British government dared not alert the Germans to the presence of the gold.  Lieutenant Commander Guybon Damant was the most qualified officer to head the risky mission. Wild gales battered the wreck into the shape of an accordion, turning the operation into a multiyear struggle of man versus nature.

As the war raged on, Damant was called off the salvage to lead a team of covert divers to investigate and search through the contents of recently sunk U-boats for ciphers, minefield schematics, and other secrets. The information they obtained, once in the hands of British intelligence, proved critical toward Allied efforts to defeat the U-boats and win the war.  But Damant had become obsessed with completing his long-deferred mission. His team struggled for five more years as it became apparent that the work could only be accomplished by muscle, grit, and persistence. Using newly discovered sources, author Joseph A. Williams provides the first full-length account of the quest for the Laurentic’s gold. More than an incredible story about undersea diving adventure, The Sunken Gold is a story of human persistence, bravery, and patriotism.

Register Here
Wednesday, 20 June:  Registration/Refreshments at 6:30 PM, Lecture at  7:00 PM
Location: Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY.

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2018 WoodenBoat Show

Come join us at the WoodenBoat Show when it returns to Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea, June 22-24, 2018!  Enjoy within-water and on-land boat exhibits, including “I Built it Myself,” expert skills demonstrations, marine vendors, family boatbuilding, and so much more.  For a complete list of Activities, Exhibitors and Visitor Information, please visit www.thewoodenboatshow.com.  We look forward to seeing you in Mystic – we’ll be in Tent A on the Village Green!

Pre-order tickets online now.  National Maritime Historical Society Friends & Up ($100) get in free with their CAMM card!  For directions, click here.  If you’re planning on staying in the area overnight and need hotel accommodations, click here for information on hotels with special WoodenBoat Show rates.

Credit: WoodenBoat Show

 

 

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Blackbeard’s Last Battle – Seminar with Kevin Duffus 19 May

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Blackbeard (c. 1736 engraving)

Join us as author Kevin Duffus presents Blackbeard’s Last Battle: the Conflicting Interpretations of his Origins and Motivations.  The notorious pirate Blackbeard stands among the most popular figures of early colonial American history, yet no one still knows who he really was. To this day, his identity, his origins, and his motivations for committing acts of piracy remain in contention. Did he hail from England, Jamaica, or the Carolinas? Was his surname Teach or Thatch, or something else entirely? Was he an undistinguished common sailor suddenly thrust into command of a pirate ship? Was he a former Royal Navy sailor and an aristocratic, Anglican slave-owning planter who inexplicably turned Jacobite and pirate? Or was he an ordinary mariner on a salvage mission lured into piracy by a mob of looters, who later became a pawn in an attempted political coup in proprietary North Carolina?

These conflicting interpretations have provoked rancorous debate among archaeologists and historians. At stake are the credibilities of monolithic institutions and museums, the reputations of researchers and authors, the financial stakes of publishers, and the future of a popular historical narrative. For more than 45 years, award-winning research historian Kevin Duffus has followed the wake of the notorious pirate’s journey through history. Along the way he has discovered startling clues and pivotal waypoints in Blackbeard’s odyssey that point to a startling conclusion—one that many scholars do not want the public to know.  

Saturday, 19 May: Registration at 10:30 AM, Lecture at  11:00 AM
Location: Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY

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John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature

Presented to Professor Robert P. Watson, PhD
for The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn:
An Untold Story of the American Revolution

Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl Street, New York, NY
6pm on Wednesday, 6 June 2018

 

The 2018 Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature will be presented to Professor Robert P. Watson, PhD, for his book The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: an Untold Story of the American Revolution at Fraunces Tavern on the evening of Wednesday, 6 June, after a 6pm reception in the Flag Gallery.  For additional information and reservations, please contact Jessica Hitchen at the New York Council, Navy League of the United States at (212) 825-7333 or via email at jhitchen@nynavyleague.org.

 

The most horrific struggle of the American Revolution/War for Independence occurred just 100 yards off New York, where more men died aboard a rotting English prison ship than were lost in the entirety of the war.  Moored in Wallabout Bay, off Brooklyn, until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, was a living hell for thousands of Americans, either captured by the British, or accused of disloyalty.  Crammed below decks — a shocking one thousand at a time — without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water.  Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners suffered mightily at the hands of brutal British and Hessian guards.  Throughout the colonies (later States), the mere mention of the ship sparked fear and loathing of British troops.  It also sparked a backlash of outrage as newspapers everywhere described the horrors of the ghostly ship.  This shocking event, much like the better-known Boston Massacre before it, ended up rallying support for Independence, and for the war.  Revealing for the first time hundreds of accounts culled from old newspapers, diaries, and military reports, award-winning historian Robert P. Watson follows the lives and ordeals of the few survivors to tell the astonishing story of the cursed ship that killed thousands of Americans, and yet helped to secure victory in the fight for Independence.  This is a story that must be told.

About the Award:

The inspiration for the Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature is the life and service of Commodore John Barry (1745- 1803) a Continental Navy hero of the American War for Independence, later chosen by President George Washington to build and lead the new United States Navy, successor to the Continental Navy.  Pursuant to a Joint Resolution of Congress, on 22 December 2005, John Barry was formally recognized, in the Public Law of the United States, as the first flag officer of the United States Navy, and similarly in a memorial at the US Naval Academy, 10 May 2014.   Previous recipients of the Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature include James D. Hornfischer for his The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944 – 1945; Tim McGrath for his Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America’s Revolution at Sea; and Craig L. Simonds for his NEPTUNE: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings.

Fraunces Tavern is the historic location for the Awards ceremony.  It is here that General George Washington celebrated the evacuation of the last British forces from New York on the last day of the American War for Independence on 25 November 1783, and later resigned his commission, bade farewell to his officers, and returned to his home in Virginia.

 

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Heaven’s Ditch Seminar with Jack Kelly 10 March

 

Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold and Murder on the Erie Canal
Presentation and Book Signing with Author Jack Kelly

Register Here for 10 March, 2018
Registration at 10:30 AM, Lecture at  11:00 AM
Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY

Join us as author Jack Kelly offers a fresh look at a critical moment in American history as the nation celebrates the Canal’s bicentennial.  A technological marvel of its age, the Erie Canal was the epitome of the can-do attitude of the age of the common man. The visionaries of the era didn’t just dream, they made things happen, building a 360-mile waterway entirely by hand. They invented new religions and new modes of living. The canal made New York the financial capital of America, brought the modern world crashing into the frontier and stimulated the nation’s commerce for decades to come.  Heaven’s Ditch illuminates the spiritual and political upheavals along this “psychic highway” from its opening in 1825 down through 1844. It tells its story through a fascinating cast of characters: William Morgan planned to expose the secrets of Freemasonry–his fate permanently altered American politics. Charles Finney touched off the greatest revival of religion in our history. “Wage slave” Sam Patch became America’s first celebrity daredevil. William Miller envisioned the apocalypse. Joseph Smith, a farm boy and spiritual prodigy, gave birth to a new and distinctly American religion. Along the way, the reader encounters the very first “crime of the century,” a treasure hunt, searing acts of violence, a visionary cross-dresser, and a panoply of fanatics, mystics, and hoaxers. The climax arrives on the day millions believe the world will end.

The Public is invited. Please register here or contact NMHS at 914737-7878, ext. 0 if you plan to attend. A $5-$10 donation is appreciated.  After the lecture, NMHS will host a luncheon—$25 prepaid with cash bar.  Reservations are required for lunch.

Can’t make it to a seminar?  Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see the presentation online!

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George Washington’s Birthday Celebration at Washington’s Headquarters, Newburgh 17-19 February 2018

Newburgh, New York – Revolutionary War reenactors in uniforms fire a cannon at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site as part of George Washington’s birthday celebration on Feb. 18, 2012.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation invites the public to Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site (84 Liberty St, Newburgh, NY) to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday.  The event will be held February 17th, 18th and 19th, from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm each day, and our own NMHS Seminar Series Steering Committee Member Dr. Raymond Phillips will be doing a historical presentation on Sunday!  For additional schedule details and information, call 845-562-1195 or visit the Facebook Event Page  and check out the Daily Program.  Admission for all three days is free, though donations are appreciated.

There will be music, military demonstrations, historical presentations, and a take-home craft every day. Join us in singing “Happy Birthday” to The General, eat a piece of his birthday cake and enjoy all that each day has to offer.  The General will be greeting visitors in the historic headquarters with balladeer Thad McGregor offering musical entertainment in the dining room. On the grounds, reenactors will be performing military drills culminating at the end of the day with a review of the troops by the General himself. Troops that will be present each day are: Saturday – the 5th New York Regiment, Sunday – 4th Connecticut Regiment and Lamb’s Artillery, and Monday the 5th Connecticut Regiment.

The museum building will host a craft for visitors of all ages, along with offering interesting historical presentations. One such talk on Saturday will be about Mount Gulian during the Revolutionary War, and another will touch upon enslavement in the Hudson Valley. On Sunday, learn about George Washington’s health while residing in this area. On Monday, a reenactor will share her insights into portraying Martha Washington for a contemporary audience.

For additional schedule details and information, call 845-562-1195 or visit the Facebook Event Page.  Admission for all three days is free, though donations are appreciated.  Sponsorship for this program is provided by the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands, Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the Palisades Parks Conservancy.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is a registered national historic landmark. It is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets within the city of Newburgh’s East End Historic District. The site is one of 35 historic sites within the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Inters Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information contact: (845) 562-1195.  For more information about New York State Parks, please visit our website at www.parks.ny.gov.

 

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Bannerman’s Island Lecture – Briarcliff Manor Library March 18th

In case you missed Thom Johnson at our seminar in Chappaqua last year (or want to see his fabulous lecture again!), he’ll be at Briarcliff Public Library on Sunday, March 18th at 2pm.  Click here to view the flyer.  To register call 914-941-7072 or email Shelley Glick at sglick@wlsmail.org.

One of the founders of the Bannerman Castle Trust and co-author of the Arcadia
Press book on the castle, Thom will present a slide lecture on the history of the island and the arsenal that Francis Bannerman VI built there. This talk will cover the island’s history prior to the arsenal, why it was built there, its years as a working arsenal, the shut down, sale to the State, the fire in 1969, and the creation of the Bannerman Castle Trust. This lecture will be illustrated with historic photos and artwork and current images of the site.

Thom Johnson is a life time resident of the Hudson Valley who first saw the Castle over 45 years ago and has been researching it for all of those years. He is a retired arts educator that believes in using our history sites to guide both young and older citizens on how to preserve and reuse these sites.

 

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