For December, our artifact of the month is a lovely watercolor of a dredged anchor, the sea life growing on it almost making it look like a holiday wreath. This piece is new to our collection and the staff were all pretty excited about it as it. That excitement grew as the piece was further researched.
The image is supposed to be a depiction of an anchor dredged up in 1885 off Cape Ann by Alpheus Hyatt. To anybody with some knowledge of our institutional history, the name Hyatt should sound familiar. Alpheus was the father of our founder, Anna Hyatt Huntington.
Alpheus Hyatt was born April 5, 1838 into an old Maryland family. He gained an interest in zoology early in life and eventually became a custodian and later curator for the Boston Society of Natural History as well as professor of zoology and paleontology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. Always curious and desirous to share his knowledge, Hyatt started a marine laboratory in 1880 in Annisquam, Massachusetts. In 1881 it was formally established as a summer program, Annisquam Sea-side Laboratory, and as a branch of the Boston Society of Natural History, with whom Hyatt was already affiliated. The program allowed women as well as men to attend and the students were often taken out for dredging field trips on board Arethusa. It was probably on one of these journey’s where the anchor in the watercolor was dredged up. The laboratory was later moved to Woods Hole and became an independent operation. Hyatt passed away on January 15, 1902 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the bottom left corner of the watercolor is the artist’s signature and date, George Merwangee White 1885. White lived from 1849-1915 and has a number of works at the Peabody Museum in Salem, MA.