Research

A glimpse at our collection of ship models.

Preserving the past and ensuring a bright future.

The Collections Research Center (CRC) is the nation’s leading maritime research facility. Located across the street from Mystic Seaport, the former J. Rossie Velvet Company houses the Museum’s collections and offers safe and easy access to maritime researchers and scholars. Artifacts at the CRC include more than two million examples of maritime art, artifacts, tools, buildings, imprints and other documents, photographs, 1,000 ships registers, 600 audiotaped oral history interviews, 200 videotaped interviews, and 1.5 million feet of historic and contemporary maritime-related footage. The CRC opened in the fall of 2002 and was designed to exceed national museum standards for conservation, preservation, accessibility, and safety. The research center provides cutting-edge temperature and humidity control for the Museum’s artifacts and also boasts audio/video production suites and extensive photo processing and digitizing labs.

News From the Collections

The saying is usually, "If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb..." Well, this February has certainly come in like a lion...and this icy picture of the tugboat LION from 1925 kind of says it all regarding how most of us feel about this winter. On January 24, 1925, Morris Rosenfeld was out with his camera and took this image of the New London Ship and Engine Company tug on the East River, capturing the ice-encrusted boat and the chilly atmosphere of the day.
Tug LION. Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection.

That same day, at about 9.a.m., Morris was taking another shot with his camera. The picture of the full solar eclipse below must have been taken somewhere above 90th Street in Manhattan or up into the Bronx, because that was where the eclipse became total. It was quite an event in New York with dozens of planes and even the Navy's largest dirigible, the LOS ANGELES,  in the air to take photos of the rare happening. The 1925 eclipse was the last total one to be visible in a large U.S. metropolitan area, and Morris was able to get  a number of shots in the short time that the birds were heading back to roost at such an odd time of the day.

Click on the images to get a more detailed view.
1925 Total Eclipse, New York City. Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection.
Author: Paul O'Pecko
Posted: February 18, 2015, 3:31 pm
The picture of the elegant diners is from the Grace Line passenger steamer SANTA PAULA in the 1930’s. In the background is a large 14 by 8 foot painting of the ship W.R. GRACE by Charles Robert Patterson which eventually came to the Museum in 1961 and has hung in the Aloha Meeting House (the Greenmanville Church) since that time.
Conservators working on the GRACE

From its time aboard the ship and the intervening five decades in the church, the painting has built up quite a layer of grime. Two conservators from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (at right) spent three days here in the Fall putting a little sparkle back into the clipper ship by stripping off some of the layers of dirt. The project was inspired by Bob Webb, a former curator at the Kendall Whaling Museum and the Maine Maritime Museum and a performer well-known in sea music circles. Bob passed away last year and one of his wishes was to see the painting conserved since, in addition to his other passions, Bob was also a writer and one of his books was a biography of Charles Robert Patterson, the artist. To help fulfill his wish, Bob’s widow Helen has been raising funds to help pay for the conservation work. Stop by and see if the painting looks a little perkier to you. And give a nod of thanks to Bob for helping to make it happen.


Detail of the W.R. GRACE (MSM accession # 1961.302)
The work is a depiction of the W.R. GRACE leaving the coast of California in the 1880’s. There were four “SANTA” ships built in the 1930’s and each one had on board a painting done by Charles Robert Patterson. There is one in the Maine Maritime Museum that went to them from the W.R. Grace offices in Boca Raton in 1999. It is also a painting of the W.R. GRACE and is entitled “Report Me All Well,” and that one was in the SANTA ELENA. When the SANTA ELENA was turned into a troop ship, the painting came out and was later trimmed down and repainted to fit in the W.R. Grace company offices. The other two SANTA ships, the SANTA ROSA and the SANTA LUCIA, carried portraits of the ship M.P. GRACE. The whereabouts of those two paintings is unknown. The one in our church is considered the masterpiece of the four and the only one kept in its original round-topped, half-moon configuration.



Author: Paul O'Pecko
Posted: January 30, 2015, 12:57 pm
When the five-masted schooner JENNIE R. DUBOIS was launched in February of 1902, she became the largest vessel ever built on the Mystic River. 249 feet long and 2,237 tons, she was built by the Holmes Shipbuilding Company and named for the wife of Rhode Island judge E.C. Dubois. She was built for the lumber and coal-carrying trades and proved to be too large for the Mystic River, having become stuck in the mud when she was launched. Hopefully the owner of the $100,000 vessel carried enough insurance because the DUBOIS was lost only a year and a half later in September of 1903 after being run down in the fog near Block Island by a German steamship while carrying a load of coal. She became a hazard to navigation and was dynamited to guarantee safe passage in the area. Local historian Carol Kimball wrote a nice article for The Day in 2002 on the construction and demise of the DUBOIS. The schooner was rediscovered 104 years later in 2007 by a group of local divers and was once again in the news.


JENNIE R. DUBOIS by S.F.M. Badger (MSM acc. # 2014.70.1)

This painting of the JENNIE R. DUBOIS is a recent gift to the Museum and joins another painting of the DUBOIS in the Museum’s possession (accession number 1957.10), both by the same artist, S.F.M. Badger. Solon Francis Montecello Badger was born in Charlestown,  Massachusetts in 1873 and died as a relatively young man in 1919. Having studied under William P. Stubbs in his youth, Badger’s style is very reminiscent of Stubbs’ work. Mystic Seaport is very happy that the donors of the painting decided to keep it in the Mystic area where it will be truly appreciated.

Author: Paul O'Pecko
Posted: December 23, 2014, 1:17 pm
The CRC will be closed to researchers during the weeks of Dec. 22nd and Dec. 29th. We will reopen to researchers on Wednesday, January 7th at 2:00. Happy Holidays!




Author: Paul O'Pecko
Posted: December 17, 2014, 9:01 pm
The CHARLES W. MORGAN, and everyone associated with her, had a hectic and momentous summer of 2014. When the MORGAN  returned home to Mystic Seaport in August, it was after a successful cruise that saw her sail to New London, Newport, Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, Provincetown, Stellwagen Bank, Boston and the Cape Cod Canal. While two of the most memorable events would be her historic return to her home port of New Bedford and her sail on Stellwagen Bank where she sailed with whales for the first time in nearly a hundred years, her passage to New London from Mystic will be one remembered by thousands. As she left Mystic Seaport in mid-May and headed down river through the town’s famous bascule bridge, local marine artist Russ Kramer caught the moment in an ink drawing on an envelope which he then had canceled at the local post office, commemorating the event in fine fashion. Cheering throngs lined the river from Mystic to Noank before she headed out into the Sound to make her way to New London for her final fitting out and sea trials prior to heading off on her historic journey.




Russ Kramer is a well-known, talented marine artist with a studio in Mystic. He is currently the president of the American Society of Marine Artists. You can view some of his work at http://www.russkramer.com/. His gift of the illustrated envelope is one of many MORGAN-related pieces that have made their way to us in 2014.

Author: Paul O'Pecko
Posted: December 1, 2014, 5:58 pm

Read more…