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Sarah Anne Island by Jessica Eichlin

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.

As the logs mention these places, I have been charting their voyage and pinpointing where they were at a certain point in time. On December 10 or 11, 1854, the ship Alice Frazier passed the Sarah Anne Island. Both mother and daughter mentioned seeing this island, and I looked it up as usual to chart on my map. Unfortunately, the Sarah Anne Island does not exist. I could not find records for it anywhere, so I thought maybe it was a ship. No luck, because the mother’s log would have mentioned it being a ship instead of an island. I kept digging, and finally found out that the Sarah Anne WAS an island… one that had existed for a brief period of time between 1858 and 1932. Claimed by the Guano Islands Act in 1858, the island was used as a supply for guano, or bird dung, for fertilizer use.

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

The Alice Frazier passed the Sarah Anne on December 10, 1854, according to the mother’s logbook, four years before it was officially claimed in the Islands Act. The island appears on maps published in 1861 as well as in 1910, but does not appear on any maps after 1932. A solar eclipse in 1937 prompted researchers to search for the island in 1932 as it would have been the perfect location to view the eclipse, but the island was nowhere to be found.

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