Historic Photography Collection
The Historic Photography Collection is one of the largest maritime photographic archive in North America, containing over 300,000 images from the 1840s to the present. These images span a wide range of commercial and recreational maritime activity, from New England shipbuilding to Arctic exploration. Among the most significant is a collection of images of Inuit peoples taken by a whaling captain, George Comer.
It is Saturday, 17 August 1912, and the photographer, Henry D. Fisher, is aboard the Boston-to-Provincetown steamer. Outward bound from Gloucester, the Leonora Silveira passes the steamer, displaying the power and grace for which New England fishing schooners of the early twentieth century have become famous. The Silveira came into Boston on the thirteenth with 50,000 pounds of haddock, 31,000 pounds of cod, 800 pounds of halibut, and three swordfish. Finding the Boston market glutted with fish, her skipper took her on to Gloucester to deliver her fish to the splitters to be salted or processed. The semi-knockabout Leonora Silveira was launched by A.D. Story at Essex, 5 April 1912, and departed on her first trip on 7 May 1912. She was named for the daughter of her captain and part owner, John Silveira, a native of Pico, the Azores. Her agent was L.J. Costa, Jr., a grocer who represented the largest Portuguese schooner-owning syndicate in Boston, managing seven vessels in 1912. Captain Silveira used his vessel haddocking and shacking out of Boston. (excerpted from Andrew W. German, Down on T Wharf (Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1982, pp. 72-3).
1976.208.216A Leonora Silveira
The Meseck Line passenger steamship Americana passes under an East River bridge, possibly the Williamsburgh Bridge. She was built in 1908 at Buffalo on Lake Erie and was used as a passenger ship there for 20 years before being brought around to New York. As a New York excursion steamer she carried 2,700 passengers. For several years in the 1930s the Americana worked as a showboat with evening trips featuring music, dancing, and a "Broadway Review," all employed to attract passengers as the line noticed numbers declining.
1991.76.41 S.S. Americana RICHARD PRATT SYLVIA COLLECTION.
This photograph is from a collection of over 500 well-documented negatives taken by photographer and reporter Richard Pratt Sylvia. Sylvia photographed a spectrum of working watercraft, including everything from freighters, tankers and liners to New York City harbor dredges and local sewage disposal vessels. Most of the images in this collection date from 1950. (from J.S.Johnson, "A Year in the Life of New York Harbor", The Log of Mystic Seaport, Volume 45, No1, pp. 2-9).
1985.18.20 Alberti Stillman in skiff
This albumen print shows Alberti R. Stillman sculling or paddling a flat iron skiff on Watchaug Pond, Charlestown, Rhode Island. The photograph was touched up so the sky would look dark and stormy.
1980.101.274 Potamska under construction
This 1942 photograph of the fishing dragger Potomska under construction at the Pierce & Kilburn shipyard in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The vessel, when completed, was close to 100 feet long. It is shown partially framed in this image. Albert Condon, who worked as superintendent of the shipyard while this vessel was built, went on to design the fishing dragger Roann, which Mystic Seaport acquired in 1997.
1973.899.231 the Earles
Captain James A. M. Earle sailed on the whaling bark Charles W. Morgan with his wife, Honor, and son James W. (Jamie). The playground for Jamie was the deck aft of the mainmast. As an older man, Jamie remembered idolizing George Christian, the second mate, who made toys for him and devoted much of his off-watch time to the lad.
Excerpted from John F. Leavitt, The Charles W. Morgan (Mystic: Marine Historical Association, Inc.) 1973.
In the winter of 1866-67, a skating party posed on the frozen Mystic River before the hull of a new ship launched at the Charles Mallory & Sons yard in October 1866. She lay in the river unrigged until the following April. Charles Henry Mallory noted in his diary at the time "there is no inducement as the times now are of laying out any more money on ships. They are a complete drug in the market." In April the ship was rigged, named Twilight, and entered the California trade under the command of Peter E. Rowland. (excerpted from William N. Peterson, Mystic Built (Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum) 1989, p. 50).
1990.50.15 crew at capstan
This gelatin print shows the crew of the vessel Akbar near Soerabaja, in East Java, Indonesia. Each man walked around the capstan, pushing the bars forward as the anchor line turned around the barrel to haul up the anchor. Sometimes it was a lot of work to move a sailing ship without sails. A handwritten note on the back of the print reads "... kedging over flats...", which meant the anchor was rowed away from the vessel in a smaller boat, dropped and raised again as a way of moving a large sailing ship over shallow areas on a calm day.
1997.89.7 U.S. Life Saving Service
This 1889 view shows seven surfboatmen from the Amagansett Life Saving Station on Long Island, New York.
For further information, please contact:
Collections and Research Department
75 Greenmanville Ave.
P. O. Box 6000
Mystic, CT 06355