Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gold before statehood!

Forty-Niners ‘Round the Horn by Charles R. Schultz. Columbia, south Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Illustrations, Bibliographes, Indexes.

Charles Schultz’s Forty-Niners ‘Round the Horn describes the social history of gold seekers who had chosen to sail to reach California mine regions from the east coast of North America. Rather than take overland routes, which, although better known, were reputed to have disastrous consequences for some of the seekers, the gold seekers easily sought passage on one of the vessels bound for the west coast, sailing there by way of Cape Horn.

Schultz prepared this volume from researching diaries and letters written on many voyages. His chapters are organized by theme, as “Preparations”, “Underway at Last”, “Food and Drink”, “Weather Problems”, “People Problems”, etc., provide the setting for his portrayal. His notes section, as well as the bibliography, is extensive. Both support quotations he uses for details of the 6-month-long passages to the port of San Francisco. Illustrations from Harper’s Weekly, Century Magazine, books on California history, posters, and journal illustrations provide views of daily lives and amusements.

The author depicts “… how passengers lived on board the sailing vessels in which they traveled… the observance of Sundays, holidays and special days such as birthdays and anniversaries” on such vessels as the ELVIRA, the DANIEL WEBSTER, the LENORE, the JANE PARKER, and the HENRY WARE, and many more ships sailing from Boston or New York and other Atlantic Coast ports. As thousands of discreet details are represented here, the vessel index in Forty-niners and general index give ships’ names, personal and corporate names and offers many ways to locate information within the text.

Online sources of more information about the gold seekers:

The Open Directory Project
is a web portal of sites relevant to this period.
Huntington Library’s website offers many illustrations from the period of 1848-1858 showing lifestyle and the business of gold seeking in Land of Golden Dreams, California in the Gold Rush Decade, 1848-1858.
Read more personal histories of gold seekers.

Los Angeles Maritime Museum Volunteers:

At the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, volunteers answer questions at the front desk, give museum tours, operate the tug ANGELS GATE, use the Morse code, build ship models, and staff The Sea Chest, the museum’s gift shop.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Skin clothes, Arctic style

Image of a "Replica of the shaman Qingailisaq's parka. Made by Rachel Uyarasuk, Igloolik, c.1989" appears on the back cover of Arctic Clothing of North America—Alaska, Canada, Greenland.

Although we usually think of maritime history as pertaining mainly to vessels, naval, merchant, or recreational, the interaction with distance cultures is the result of ocean travels, campaigns and endeavors of all kinds. So the discovery of materials and methods for producing clothing, preparing food, as well as extoic natural resources, was a gold mine of opportunity and provided explorers with treasures of all kinds to bring home.

Arctic Clothing of North America—Alaska, Canada, Greenland. / Edited by J.C.H. King, Birgit Pauksztat, and Robert Storrie. Published by McGill-Queens University, 2005. 160 p., color illustrations, maps, bibliography and index.

This book about clothing grew from exhibitions on Eskimo boots in Great Britain in the 1980s. Since then anthropologists and biologists have studied methods of making skin clothing, with emphasis on technique and cultural and environmental influences. It has five parts, beginning with Personal Narratives, progressing to Materials, Styles and Techniques, Change and Responses to Outside Influences, and finally Clothing and Art.

You can learn how the clothing was made with techniques for preparing the pelts and creating garments for humans from pieces of marine animal skins. Waterproof boots, parkas and even stockings were crafted with great skill by cutting and stitching methods devised to prevent the loss of heat or create conditions of dampness. In the sub-freezing temperatures of the Arctic regions, small tears or openings could expose the wearer to risk of frostbite or even death, leaving their families without a food-procuring hunter. The Eskimo people of Alaska, the Inuit people of Canada, and the Greenlanders all produced skin clothing that protected them from their environment.

Museum volunteer: At the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, volunteers answer questions at the front desk, give museum tours, operate the tug ANGELS GATE, use the Morse code, build ship models, and staff The Sea Chest, the museum’s gift shop. Visit the web page at for more information.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Entradas de Baja California

A Maritime History of Baja California: A Photographic Essay on the Harbors, Anchorages, and Special Ships of the Baja California Peninsula. / by Ed Vernon. Published by the Maritime Museum of San Diego and University of New Mexico Press, 2009. 285 p. Timeline, Glossary and index.

Complete with maps, illustrations and unusual photographic images of ships in harbors, The Maritime History of Baja California by Edward W. Vernon delivers a fascinating explanation of the peninsula’s history. In the Preface, Rodney J. Taylor composes this impression of the work:

“This is Ed Vernon’s second in a series of photographic journals that are really love poems to this place…. His collection is not orthodox. Rather than predictably concentrating on magnificent 16th-century galleons, such as … Cabrillo’s San Salvador, he also focuses on working ships, expedition packet ships, and sea-otter fur traders… His chief contribution… is that he captures a sense of the beauty and history to be found in the landscape, the sheltered bays, and the ships that carried so many adventures… ” p. vii-viii.