The Tale of a Whale, or rather the Teeth. . .

Posted on
Pocket Knife with Baleen (suspected) handle
ca. 1878-1882
Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Hello! As this my first blog at The Mariners’ Museum and Park I will introduce myself.  My name is Molly McGath and I’m the new Analytical Chemist here at the museum.  I imagine some of you might be a bit surprised at the idea of a chemist  working in a museum.  I do many different kinds of chemical analysis of museum objects, including chemical identification and characterization, exploring deterioration mechanisms of objects, and studying the short-term and long-term behavior of conservation treatments.   To give you a better idea of what my job is like, I’ll share a project I worked on right after starting.

First the Tale. . .

Conservator Paige Schmidt brought me a question about an object she was treating.  She wanted to know whether the handle of this knife (see image below) was made from baleen.  So I started the process of chemical analysis.   Read more

Puerto Ricans and Hampton Roads

Posted on
L-13256
U.S. Army Signal Corps. Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection, L-13256.

Today there are more than 4 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States, making them one of the largest distinct ethnic groups in the U.S. and the second largest subgroup of Hispanics. While the Puerto Rican population in America is largely concentrated in New York City and Florida, Hampton Roads is home to one of the most substantial populations of Puerto Ricans in the south. This is to be expected as our community’s strong ties to the military brings in people from all over their world and Puerto Ricans have served proudly in the U.S. armed forces since at least World War I.

The Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation Collection gives us an important reminder that not all of our Puerto Rican neighbors are recent arrivals. Indeed many have been in Hampton Roads for generations. For example, in a series of seventeen photographs the U.S. Army Signal Corps documented servicemen returning to the mainland after being stationed in Puerto Rico. When the S.S. Fairfax docked in Newport News, March 29, 1945, it was also carrying their Puerto Rican wives and children.   Read more

Hal Clement, noted author of "hard" sci-fi

Posted on
L-12586
L-12586, HRPE, Army Signal Corps Collection

Here we have a typical photo from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation collection, it depicts a group of soldiers debarking. Specifically this is a group of Army Air Corps bomber pilots arriving on the transport ship “General John R. Brooke,” its February 1945 and they are coming home on rotation. From the photo print’s caption we know that one of these men is Lt. Harry C. Stubbs.

In completing authority work on Lt. Stubbs, the Library of Congress tells me that this is the birth name of an author better known by the nom de plume, Hal Clement. But which one is our guy?   Read more

A war story not for the faint hearted

Posted on
Pfc. Dorris Malear
U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation collection, E-12688

Pfc. Dorris Malear tells a story that suggests he may have been a survivor of the so-called Malmedy Massacre, one operation related to the famous Battle of the Bulge, in which the German 1st S.S. Panzer Division sought to instill fear in their enemies by taking no prisoners and killing all civilians in their path. While the details of Malear’s narrative differ somewhat from the historically accepted account of the Malmedy Massacre, he is certainly in the right place at about the right time.

Mr. Malear passed away in 2013, you can read his obituary here.   Read more

Sports Legends at HRPE

Posted on
E-12339

On February 12, 1945, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation paid host to several noted professional and collegiate coaches and athletes. These men traveled to various Army staging grounds delivering athletic programs to men as they prepared to journey overseas.

Back row:   Read more