Way Back Wednesdays

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Museum building November 17, 1937

This was one of the storage buildings (in 1937) attached to the main museum.  It would later be converted into our library space, at least until they moved over to the Christopher Newport University library.

After they discontinued storing our boats in the lake, they put them into our courtyard where they were more easily visible, as this photo from 1940 shows.  Now they are happily displayed in our International Small Craft Center.   Read more

A Very Fond Farewell

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A new voyage awaits. From The Mariners’ Museum Library collection.

Hello everyone, and welcome once more to the Library blog. Sadly, today is my last day writing for you fine readers, and I want you to know what an honor it has been. When I arrived at the Library in June, I knew nothing about the SS United States, but with some guidance and access to the Library’s archives I was able to discover her very real and very poignant story. In my mind’s eye, she is not only AN ocean liner – she is now THE ocean liner, and still fastest in the world. I likewise new little about piracy, save that it was a problem off of Somalia. Through investigation of the Library’s resources and rare book collection, I found out where our modern conception of pirates came from and how much of a problem it still is even in the modern day. For the past six months, these topics have been the focus of my blog posts, but there in truth they only scratch the surface of what the Library has to offer.

For every photograph, book or document featured in my posts, dozens more exist in the archive. I could spend a lifetime documenting, organizing and analyzing the sources available here – nevertheless, I’m grateful for the six months I HAVE had. It has truly been a pleasure to work on the Library blog. The staff members have been universally kind and helpful, and I am still surprised at how much I learned. My deepest thanks go out to Jay, Jenn, Tom, Bill, Patti, and all the rest of The Mariners’ Museum Library family that made me feel welcome and helped me discover a whole new world hidden in the archives. Thanks for reading, and farewell.   Read more

A Byte of History

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People who remember traveling on the great ship have bought bits of the places that were special to them, like the Promenade Deck pictured above. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. Julie Zauzmer, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted an interesting article on Philly.com today (article HERE). The SS United States Conservancy has created a virtual copy of the SS United States in order to raise money for the conservation of the real ship. Donors can purchase virtual pieces of the vessel for the price of $1 per square inch, and use that space to display things like photographs and messages. Creating a virtual ship like this is an interesting step not just the SS United States, but for museums in general: when you need to quickly raise funds or awareness for a project, what better way than by using the internet? The Conservancy has given an electronic version of the ship to the people, and let them run with it.

Financially, the project is off to an admirable start. The Conservancy needs $25 million to renovate the ship and convert its interior into a museum, and has raised $6 million already. The catch is that their current allotment of money will only allow them to hold on to the ship until November of this year. After that, the SS United States will be sold for scrap metal. A poor end for the flagship of the American merchant fleet and the world’s fastest transatlantic passenger ship.   Read more

Remembering our Good Fortune

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To Ms. Eliza Guinan, Michael's sister. The letter was not sent until Michael arrived in Washington DC on July 30th. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello again, and welcome back to the Library blog. I hope everyone had a pleasant Fourth of July and a weekend spent with friends and family. Sadly, during the Civil War hundreds of thousands of young men could not share in this simple joy. Separated from their loved ones, the only merriment many soldiers had was what they could create for themselves. Private Michael Guinan of the 128th New York Volunteers Co. A wrote to his sister a letter several days after the Fourth, recounting the somber celebration he and his unit had produced.

“We passed the Fourth of July in camp with no amusement of any kind whatsoever only in the evening (Bill?) Forster got a couple of barrels of beer and called us all up and we all drank a glass in honor of the day… at taps we all went to bed, to dream of times gone by and of those to come again: to dream of the Fourths of July we passed at home, and of those we will pass if God spares us to return again.” – Pvt. Michael Guinan, July 1864.   Read more

A Long Way to Home

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Here, a religious service is held under one of the USS Iowa's gun batteries. From the Photograph Collection.

Hello, readers! My name is Brian Whitenton, and I’m now writing for The Mariners’ Museum Library blog as well The Mariners’ Museum Connections blog! Yaay!

So as we speak, one of the last remaining World War II battleships – the USS Iowa – is being towed to Los Angeles. Once it arrives, it will be a floating museum similar to the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia.   Fitting, since the USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin are both the same class of battleship (the Iowa class). This class was designed while WW II was raging, but what about the battleships that were already in existence? What about the ones at Pearl Harbor, for example?   Read more