GHI London Blogpost


Thanks to a scholarship of the German Historical Institute London, I have spent several months (September to November) in several english cities (Birmingham, London) and welsh cities (Aberystwyth, Pembrokeshire, Milford Haven) in order to undertake archival research in a number of Archives, Museums and Libraries.

In the Cadbury Research Library of the University of Birmingham I was able to read (and to copy) extensive amounts of manuscripts of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Stations and its actors at the Bay of Islands (roughly from the period between 1814 until 1840). Adopting on one particular meeting minute of the CMS in London, I summarized my PhD research project for the blog of the German Historical Institute. I remain very grateful for this wonderful opportunity of the GHIL and thank Dr. Marcus Meer for the lectoring process.

You can read the blogpost on the GHIL Blog here.1

  1. Hussein, Haureh: Māori Iwi, Quaker Whalers, and Missionaries at the Bay of Islands in Aotearoa/New Zealand (1790–1840), in: GHIL Blog, [Last Access: 24.11.2022]. []

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

During the Conference days of the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology (see the blogpost of 26. Sept. 2022), I met Bill Edwards, manager of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Dr. James Robinson, Archaeologist of the same Institution.

Dr. James Robinson delivered a paper entitled “Land and Sea,the archaeological and historical evidence of European interaction with tangata whenua on Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands: 1769–1940s”. Bill Edwards talked about the “Seascapes of encounter, the archaeological and historical evidence of European voyagers early contact with tangata whenua in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.”

Throughout the Conference, I used many occasionaries and moments to have chat with them by a cup of tea, for lunch, or during the boat trip, and even after the Conference, I visited them twice in the Office of the “Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga” in Keri Keri, where we not only continued our conversations but also “fall” into “rabbitholes” of both their Library and their mapping programms in the office.

Apart from Bill and James, John O’Hare, a journalist, also worked in the Council and invited me very spontaneously to talk about my research. I readily used the opportunity to introduce my topic to a local audience. The article can be found in the “Northern Advocate” Newspaper (behind a paywall)1 , but is also free accessible on the blog of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.2

  1. Whaling heritage brings researcher to New Zealand, in: The Northern Advocate,, [Last Access: 2.11.2022]. []
  2. Whaling Heritage draws researcher to New Zealand, in: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga,, [Last Access: 2.11.2022]. []

Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi

I have spent over three weeks at the Bay of Islands – and thanks to many occasions and persons – my schedule became more busy than I have expected. Yet, given that I wanted to do the most of my limited time, I could not have wished for more! I am very happy and grateful to have come in touch with so many people here. I am afraid, I could write surely ten more blog entries about the persons, occasions and places I have seen here.

Private Picture, 2.10.2022

In this blogpost however, I will put the lights on a visit of one of the most important museums of Aotearoa New Zealand. I am talking of the Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds at the Bay of Islands. The Museum is located north of Paihia and consists of several buildings and a little forest. The Museum has been established on the place, in which the representatives of the British Crown and Maori Rangatira came together to discuss and to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in early Februrary 1840.

Map of Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, in: Waitangi Treaty Grounds,, [Last Access: 18.10.2022].

Different buildings provide the visitors insight into different exhibitions and apart from permanent, the museum offers temporary exhibitions too. On their website, the museum informs that “Ko Waitangi Tēnei tells the story of Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi from multiple perspectives to achieve an authentic and accurate representation of events.”1

Waitangi Treaty Room – Private Picture, 2.10.2022.

The exhibition leads the visitor through many chapters of Aotearoa’s New Zealand’s history, with a decent focus on crucial topics such as the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi but also the first and second World War.

In Addition to the fascinating exhibition, the Waitangi Museum maintains also two different blogs in order to inform the public about ongoing developments and by introducing historic topics. You can find the Waitangi Blog here under the following link. The second Education Blog Hauhiko mātauranga can be read under this link.

  1. Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, in: Waitangi Treaty Grounds,, [Last Access: 18.10.2022]. []

“Archaeology of Interaction” Conference, 27th – 30th September 2022

Back in May/June 2022, when Aotearoa/New Zealand enabled international guests to visit the country again, I planned a research stay ahead for the months between September and December 2022. During this organization period, I not only had intense correspondences with Museums, Libraries and Archives for manuscripts, but encountered also Call for Papers, and one of them was the “Archaeology of Interaction” Conference of the “Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology“, which will take place from 27th to 30th September 2022 in Russell (former: Kororāreka), at Pēwhairangi/ Bay of Islands.

I remain very happy and proud to be able to introduce my research project in front of the attendes and look forward to the next days. The programme holds numerous highlights throughout the following days, and can be seen here:

Hello from Aotearoa!

This blogpost reaches you from Auckland in Aotearoa/New Zealand and was planned already some days ago, but no chance!

Last week on the 17th September, I arrived in Auckland after a long flight of 33 hours, departing from Frankfurt over Hong Kong to Auckland. Experiencing a long-distance flight for the first time, I suffered a heavy jetlag throughout the next days, leaving me with an almost not existing sleep-cycle and unconcentration. The flight went considerably well although I could barely find any sleep. What is worth to be mention is the wonderful flight safety clip, which Air New Zealand have shown before leaving the Airport of Hong Kong. I am happy to have found it online.

Air New Zealand Safety Video 2022: Tiaki & The Guardians, in: Youtube, Air New Zealand Safety Video 2022: Tiaki & The Guardians – YouTube, [22.09.2022].

After arriving on Saturday morning and reaching my hotel, I spent most of the following days with discovering the city and practicing my presentation on this Conference, which will take place already next week. The days between Tuesday and Thursday were shaped by archive visitings in the reading room of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, where I had ordered relevant material.

Archive visiting mean picture accumulation. Private Picture, 22.09.2022
Auckland War Memorial. Private Picture, 22.09.2022

It took me some days to shake off the jetlag, and it is a pity to leave this big city with over 1 million inhabitants, yet I look very much forward to travel to Russell town in the Bay of Islands next Saturday.

“Digitizing, Curating and Visualizing” Ship logbooks

Last year, a group of historians from a number of dfferent greek and spanish Institutions and Universities published a paper, in which they introduce the long process of digitalization, curatization and visualization on a number of selected 16 preserved logbooks as a case study.1

In the paper abstract, the authors want to “present a set of innovative tools that have been implemented for supporting historians in transcribing the original sources and curating the transcribed data as well as a web application that visualizes the curated data on an interactive map.”2) For this, they were using 16 original ship logbooks from the 19th and 20 century, which were preserved in seveen different archives in Greece and Spain.

Initially the article begins by introducing the practice of research in historical science, which is “is often concerned with the study and analysis of archival sources in order to de-scribe, examine, question and analyze a sequence of past events and also investigate the patterns of causes and effects that are related to them.” While this practice might be useful for quantitative analysis, it also comes along with issues, as they claim:

The need for faithful, fast and collaborative data entry by historians working on the same project but from different countries.

The difficulty of representing nested tabular structures, which is quite common when transcribing archival sources.

The need to curate the transcribed data without having to change the information as it appears in the original transcripts (and thus spoil the data).

The difficulty in revisiting the original sources of transcribed facts for verification, corrections or improvements.

The difficulty in combining and integrating data from multiple and diverse data sources and thus perform quantitative analysis of facts coming from different information sources.

Petrakis, K. et. al. (2021)

For their case study, they took ship logbooks and realized that they are an “invaluable type of source, yet largely unexplored by historians who have only used them in a secondary and supplementary way”. As such, natural scientiests were busy to draw back on various apects out of logbooks since the 1970s already. Climatologists for example, found in logbooks helpful wheather and wind observations. Logbooks of different kind of ship types (whaling, naval, trade, etc.) provide different information to a certain degrees including “navigation, trade routes, naval warfare, medical history, environmental history and the social history of work and life on board.”3

You can read the full article under the link in the footnotes.

  1. Petrakis, K., Samaritakis, G., Kalesios, T., García Domingo, E., Delis, A., Tzitzikas, Y., Doerr, M., & Fafalios, P. (2021): Digitizing, Curating and Visualizing Archival Sources of Maritime History: the case of ship logbooks of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drassana, (28), 60–87. [Last Access: 16.08.2022]. []
  2. Petrakis, K. et. al. (2021 []
  3. Petrakis, K. et. al. (2021), p. 63. []

Prof. Dr. Tiya Miles: New Guinea and the Island of Nantucket.

Last year, on 31st August 2021, Professor Tiya Miles, department of history at the Harvard University, published an article in The Atlantic about the Island of Nantucket entitled: “Nantucket doesn’t belong to the Preppies”.1 The article grew out not only from the vivid history of the island itself, but also through her conversations with many figures of the island.

Combined with private observations, biographical experiences and conversations, she first pictured colonial-white-focussed perceiptions and quickly corrects the impressions.

Picture Nantucket, and you probably imagine whales and hydrangeas, white people swimming in white-capped waves. But that’s only part of the story. Although the Black community of New Guinea has passed into history, its mark on the landscape remains, a reminder that Nantucket was once a place of working-class ingenuity and Black daring.

Tiya Miles

While the most stories of Nantucket typically began with the popular anektode of English settlers, who arrived in 1690, and noticed whales while they surveyed the sandy land, the Wampanoag people had already lived there, “dispersed across multiple villages.” Miles shows how the rising wealth of “Anglo-Nantucketers […] particularly through the commercial whaling industry” based on the rising “labor from populations with ready skills that would not, or could not, reject dangerous maritime work.” For this, they not only “compelled Indigenous people to row their boats”, but also drew back to slavery by bringing people with descent from the African continent to Nantucket.

According to a census of 1764, the Island inhabited 148 “indians + Sqwaws” and 50 “Negroes”, of which a majority were enslaved. In this regard, Miles also recounts the famous case between William Swain and Boston:

One black family, the Bostons, lived on Nantucket for generations and profoundly shaped the island’s history. Boston and his wife, Maria, and their eight children were enslaved by a merchant named William Swain. In 1760, for reasons that are not documented, Swain freed the couple and their youngest baby. He placed the other children on a manumission schedule, guaranteeing that he could extract their labor for years. Eventually, members of the Boston family moved to a hilly region at the edge of town, where a handful of other free Black families lived, near the four noisy windmills that served as the island’s power source.

Tiya Miles

In the 1770s, when the island suczessively “phase out slavery”, many free persons now settled themselves at “New Guinea”or “Newtown”, where they intermarriaged with Native Americans and so shaped the place as “a multicultural hub”.

You can read the full article here.1

  1. Miles, Tiya (2021): Nantucket doesn’t belong to the Preppies, in: The Atlantic,, 31.08.2021. [last Access:25.7.2022]. [] []

“He Whenua Rangatira. A Māori land”

This short Youtube clip is part of the exhibition of “He Tohu”. He Tohu has been presented by two leading institutions in Aotearoa/ New Zealand – Archives News Zealand /Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga as well as the National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.1

Comprising the time period between 1200 and 1300 and 1839, the video illustrates the first recorded initial Māori settlements on both Islands and both the first European visitors bus also the first Maori travellers outside of Aoetearoa. The brief clip is separted in several ‘chapters’:

1200-1300: Māori arrivals

1300-1500: Pā Sites

1500-1700: Iwi Migrations

1500-1800: Trade routes

1600-1840: European arrivals: Explorers

1600-1840: European arrivals: Missionaries

1600-1840: European arrivals: Whalers

1769-1840: Māori explore the world

1835-183: Signing off He Whakaputanga

He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of three documents, that sustainably changed and formed Aotearoa’s history.2 In 1835, several years after his appointment, and afraid of a potential French annexation, James Busby gathered 34 Māori Rangatira together in order to organize them under the He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, which is also known as the “Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand”.3

The second document, which the exhibition consists of, is the “Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi” of 1840.4

And the “Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine” in 1893.5

  1. He Tohu, in: National Library of New Zealand,, [last Access: 15.07.2022]. []
  2. See Aotearoa’s founding documents at He Tohu, in: Wellington NZ,, [last Access: 15.07.2022]. []
  3. He Whakaputanga, in: National Library of New Zealand,, [last Access: 15.07.2022]. []
  4. Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi, in: National Library of New Zealand,, [last Access: 15.07.2022]. []
  5. Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, in: National Library of New Zealand,, [last Access: 15.07.2022]. []

1842: Starbuck from Nantucket applies for British Naturalization in Sydney

In 29th September 1842, the “Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser” informs their readers about the naturalization of an American person named George Starbuck from Nantucket, who officially requested to become a British citizen:

“Naturalization of an Alien. – A Mr. George Starbuck, who is a native of Nantucket, in the United States, took the oaths of allegiance to her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria on Tuesday last, before His Honor the Chief Justice, in the Court of Equity.”1

Reading of a Starbuck family member from Nantucket in the mid of the 19th century, one can easily draw a connection to the whaling industry. Unfortunately it remains unclear, how he arrived in Sydney or whether he captained a whaling ship or not (at least according to the database of Only one entry lists a George Starbuck person as an Agent of the whaling ship “JOSEPH STARBUCK”, which went on a Pacific whaling voyage between 1838 and 1842, and was captained by Wilbur Sanford.2

The website of the “State Archives & Records” in Sydney hold the records of the Naturalization processes in detail and give further knowledge about the legal history of the naturalization too.3

Naturalization is the means by which aliens (non-British subjects) gain the privileges and rights of citizenship held by British subjects or people born in New South Wales.

There was no law covering naturalization before 1849. Prior to that year, the process of naturalization was known as denization and could only be performed through an Act of Parliament. Denization gave an alien the right to own land. The Act to Amend the Laws relating to Aliens, 1849 (No 11 Vic No 39) established the system of naturalization, which gave much broader rights and made denization obsolete.

State Archives & Records NSW

Since Starbuck applied in 1842, his records fell into the “Letters of Denization” in the collection of the State Archives. Receiving the British citizenship came along with many privileges and benefits such as the right to vote (only for men), but what might have been much more interesting for the applicants was the right to buy or own land, which seem to have been only confined to British settlers. One important requirement was the Residency of at least five years. This means that George Starbuck must have been living in Sydney since at least five years.

The database of the naturalization applicants do only consist of Non-British people with backgrounds from all over the world. Individuals from Ireland or Canada did not need to become naturalized as they already belonged to the British Empire. In these online provided naturalization database, I was able to find the name of George Starbuck, yet his name was mistyped as George Starbrick.

The entry is kept very brief, yet I assume that the entry might provide further information about the background.

  1. Naturalization of an Alien, in: Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 29.09.1842,, [last Access: 12.06.2022]. []
  2. Joseph Starbuck, 1838-1842, in: whaling history,, [Last Access: 12.06.2022]. []
  3. Naturalization / Citizenship Guide, in: State Archives & Records, Sydney,, [Last Access: 12.06.2022]. []

What does “transoceanic” mean?

With this blogpost, I would like to discuss and introduce the term “transoceanic”, which is also the name of this research blog. Four years ago, at 11th May 2018, the two scholars Juliane Braun and Benjamin Fagan gave an interview to the TRAFO research blog “Blog for Transregional Studies”. This interview was part of a larger TRAFO series “Emerging Topics. Insights from ‘Behind the Scenes’.

In this interview, they put the attention on the Conference “Transoceanic American Studies”, which would take place a week later at 18th May 2018 at the German Historical Institute Washington. They explained the concept of a transoceanic approach and highlight the differences between Atlantic and Pacific studies. While Atlantic studies are rather interested in discovering “connections between the lands and peoples that exist on that ocean’s rim”, Pacific studies tend to focus “upon the island communities scattered throughout that ocean”. In doing so, they observed, Pacific historians put more efforts into “recovering the experiences of the ocean’s indigenous communities”, instead of just emphasizing on “the people who traveled, willingly and in chains” between the continents, as Atlantic historians typically do.

The term transoceanic is insofar interesting as it understands the Oceans as a means of “creation of connections between different lands, peoples, and products”, and not a barrier. “Seafarers”, they remind, “thought of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans as ‘knit together’ because they had to traverse all of them to get to” their destination.

Putting these considerations into my research project comes along with several consequences. Firstly, this understanding of the Ocean can be surely observed in the whaling industry too. As soon as the whale populations in the Atlantic Ocean diminished in the 18th and 19th century, it was and became common and custom for whaling ships, which started in New England or London, to cross the Atlantic from Cape Hope through the Indian Ocean, or via Cape Horn in order to reach the whaling grounds of the Pacific Ocean, and to sail back. For them, the oceanic currents and patterns formed their regularly ‘way for work’.

At the same time, such connections led to the circulation of ideas, commodities, peoples and experiences. Including the experiences and understanding the perspectives of Indigenous communities means, to follow their path and patterns as well. There a plenty of examples, which clearly contradict the notion of only one-sided developments.

Tahitians went to Aotearoa/New Zealand, Māori individuals arrived in Atlantic ports such as London or Nantucket. Missionaries, on their way from London to the Bay of Islands, talk of (and pick up) stranded Māori persons on the Islands of Madeira. Whaling Captains, who pick up ruling families of the Hawaiian Islands and, on their way back to London, took a stopover in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the Hawaiian rulers come to meet the local rulers of Rio. Whalers, with Native American background, arrive in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and were considered as Pakeha (white settlers). Brazilian seailors, who run away at Kororareka during a stopover of American whaling ships. These are just a few examples, which can be used as an example in the early 19th century.

Madeleine Miller from the GHI Washington had summarized the conference “Transoceanic American Studies“, which took place 2018 in Washington.1

  1. Miller, Madeleine: Transoceanic American Studies, in: GHI Washington, 2018,, [Last Access: 18.05.2022]. []

The Basque Country: The place of Europe’s first whaling industry

In the first week of April I took off a week from the desk and went on vacation to Biarritz in the very south-western Part of France, close to the border of Spain. The Basque Country stretches from Bilbao, Pamplona, San Sebastian up to Biarritz and Bayonne, and the area is considered to have been the first to enter the whaling industry already in the 11th century.

While today, the city of Biarritz is rather known for its many surfing schools and tourism, the whaling heritage of Biarritz is only evident in the city coat arms, which can be seen in the local museum. According to the “North American Basque Organization”, at least six Basque cities contain whales or the whaling process in their coat of arms.1

Private Pictures: Museum of Biarritz

The local museum as well as the maritime museum provide their visitors with (albeit superficial) information about the early days of this maritime industry, which would later grew of high importance in the 18th and 19th century. The whaling ships of the Basques hunted predominantly right whales and focussed on the Atlantic Ocean. Some words, which are familiar in the whalig industry have actually Basque origins. Did you know for example that the term harpoon comes from the Basque word “arpoi”?

Private Picture: Maritime Museum in Biarritz
Private Picture: Maritime Museum in Biarritz

The Maritime Museum only gave a few and superficial and introductory remarks of the Basque whaling industry, yet the North American Basque Organization give a helpful historic overview of the whaling industry on their website.

Around the 11th Century, many of the Basque communities along the coast found that these whales were very profitable to slaughter when one occasionally was beached. The blubber could be boiled down for lighting fuel, and the meat could be eaten. These accidental strandings were so advantageous, the Basques took to taking boats out to try to drive whales into shallow water. If noise and threatening advances forced the whale to beach, it could be killed with lances.

By the 12th Century, this was a highly organized business. Stone watchtowers were built, and when a whale was sighted, the alarm would be sounded, and everyone would head out after it. As many as 20 villages would combine to slay a single whale, sharing the rewards, except for the tongue, which went to the church as a favored delicacy.

Basque whaling, in: North American Basque Organization, Basque Whaling (, Last Access: 28.04.2022.))

As soon as the ship began to go out into the Atlantic, they sailed as far as Canada in order to hunt whales during the 16th century. Since the Basque whalers had contact to the North American continent, I was able to find further articles and information in Canadian institutions and museums.

Peter Pope, Professor at the Memorial University from Newfoundland, has analyzed very extensively and in very detail the history of the Basque whaling industry, their economic activities, and their transatlantic connection to Canada and also the constitution of a whaling crew as well as their interaction with Indigenous communities.

Each Basque whaling crew consisted of oficiales (officers and tradesmen), ordinary seamen, and boys apprenticed either as seamen or oficiales. The captain made verbal agreements with his crew, hiring about 25 men per 100 tons of vessel, so perhaps 60 men for a 250-ton ship. The captain normally invested in the whaling tools himself, but coopers and carpenters had to supply their own tools. Even a small crew included a boatswain, a boatswain’s mate, a steward (purser), a cooper, a caulker, a gunner, harpooners, flensers and boys. Chaplains and pilots might serve several ships on a single expedition. Larger ships might carry their own, as well as a surgeon, and even a diver to make hull repairs. At sea, the division of labour differed slightly from that on land, since coopers and harpooners served only as sailors at sea.

Prof. Peter Pope, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Basque Whalers | Virtual Museum of New France (

And even in Canada one can see impressive insights into the whaling industry and the role of Indigenous communties:

European crews interacted with Aboriginal peoples from the earliest days of the transatlantic industries in Atlantic Canada. Significant Basque participation in the cod fishery, in the 1540s, followed Breton and Norman commitment to the industry by a decade or two, so it is not surprising that the Normans preceded the Basques in the beginnings of a fur trade with Aboriginal peoples in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Yet, in the second half of the sixteenth century, the Basques became the pre-eminent European traders in the region. Basque crews are known to have traded with the Beothuk of Newfoundland, the Innu (Montagnais) of Labrador and the St. Lawrence North Shore, and the Mi’kmaq of Gaspé, Chaleur Bay and Cape Breton. Sometimes, they also employed Innu workers at their whaling stations in the Strait of Belle Isle. The Basque fur trade peaked in the late 1580s and culminated in the establishment of a Basque trading post at Tadoussac at the end of the century. Unfortunately for Basque merchants, they were forced out of the Canada trade after 1600. Their exclusion became official in 1645, when migratory fishers lost the right to trade for furs with Aboriginal peoples in New France. Only companies to which the king of France had granted a monopoly could engage in such trade. Between 1560 and 1600, or even a bit later, the Basques dominated trade with the Aboriginal peoples of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This dominance is reflected in the widespread archaeological survival of distinctive Basque trade goods, including axes and copper kettles, which found their way inland, far into the Iroquoian and Huron territories in what is now Ontario. Another indication of close Basque interaction with Aboriginal peoples was the development, in the sixteenth century, of a pidgin trade language that left traces of Basque in the vocabulary of some Aboriginal languages in the region. Did the Basques have some special interest or ability in dealing with Aboriginal peoples? This is not far-fetched, keeping in mind that they are themselves an ethnic isolate, surrounded by peoples of another language family. The Basques were already used to dealing with people who spoke another tongue, incomprehensible at first, and with the complex arrangements that might permit strangers to engage in mutually profitable trade.

Prof. Peter Pope, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Basque Whalers | Virtual Museum of New France (

“The Baque whalers” article2 which Professor Pope wrote for the Canadian Museum of History /Musée Canadien de L’Histoire, is very fascinating and is worth to be read for everyone, who is interested in the whaling industry, as it appears that many facets and characteristics of the ‘typical’ whaling industry in the 18th and 19th century can be observed and traced back to very early periods of time.

Those who are more interested in a rather local overview of the Basque whalers in the area of St. Lawrence, I can also recommend to read the article Jaime O’Leary too.3

  1. Basque whaling, in: North American Basque Organization, Basque Whaling (, Last Access: 28.04.2022. []
  2. Pope, Peter: Basque Whalers, in: Canadian Museum of History /Musée Canadien de L’Histoire, Basque Whalers | Virtual Museum of New France (, Last Access: 28.04.2022. []
  3. O’Leary, Jaime: Basque Whaling in Red Bay, Labrador, in: Heritage, Newfoundland and Labarador, Basque Whaling in Red Bay, Labrador (, Last Access: 28.04.2022. []

Review: “Grass Huts and Warehouses, Pacific Beach Communities of the Nineteenth Century”

With this new blogpost, I would like to introduce you a new format of postings. During my research, I regularly encounter fascinating journal articles and monographs, which I consider as very relevant or useful, but sometimes I approach also titles, which will not find their way into my dissertation manuscript at the end of the day.

In future similar posts, I will give selected topics, research questions and titles a platform in order to introduce them and to approach the topic from my point of view. It might be important to mention here, that I do not have any experience with reviewing titles yet, and therefore, I consider it as an opportunity for myself to learn this too. Thus, if you have comments, useful advices or instructions on reviewing academic monographs for me, I am happy to read your comment or E-Mail.

For this blogpost, I decided to begin with the following monograph: Caroline Ralston (1977):”Grass Huts and Warehouses, Pacific Beach Communities of the Nineteenth Century”, Canberra: Australian National University Press.

Ralston analyzes specifically the background, the role, the influence and the impact of individual Beachcombers on a set of five different places and Indigenous communities across the Pacific Ocean. Throughout the 19th century, the vivid Pacific islands and cities of Honolulu (Hawai’i), Pape’ete (Tahiti) , Apia (Samoa), Levuka (Fiji) and Kororareka at the Bay of Islands (Aotearoa/ New Zealand) gained increasing interest and attention of various regional, European and American agencies due to their geographical locality, their harbour or the abundance of or their proximity to natural resources.

In eight chapters and an Epilogue (chapter 9), she structures her monograph from the first “Contact and Early Trade” (1), then she jumps to “Beachcombers” (2),”First Pacific Beach Communities” (3) , “Early Beach Community Development” (4), before she devotes a general chapter on the “Consuls, Missionaries and Company Traders” (5), followed by “The Pattern of Daily Life”, (6); “Later Years” (7), and “Race Relations in the Beach Communities” (8).

The publication of the journals of Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific, together with those of his forerunners, nevertheless revealed trading and whaling resources awaiting development, and the explorers’ own experiences proved that the basic pre-rerequisites for establishing commercial relations with some groups of islanders did exist.

Ralston 1977, p. 8.

As you can imagine, I have read and scanned the publication with a specific focus on two pre-dominant aspects: on the development of the whaling industry in the Pacific Ocean as well as on Kororareka as a famous harbour for whaling ships. In her first chapter, Ralston summarizes the rise of the whaling industry. She describes the migration patterns of whales and the areas, which became increasingly famous for whaling ships.

During the first two decades of the nineteenth century whaling activities were concentrated on the western coasts of North and South America and the eastern coast of Australia, but with the discovery of the Japanese and equatorial whaling grounds in the early 1820s, whaling vessels were drawn into the midst of the island world and were eager to find places to refresh and refit there.

In the northern Pacific Honolulu became the unchallenged centre for the whaling industry, while in the south whaling captains could choose between Papeete, Kororareka, Apia, the southern islands of Fiji, or the Marquesas to refresh and refit at, depending on which was most convenient.

Despite their seeming aimlessness whalers did not roam casually round the Pacific, but worked through the different whaling grounds systematically according to the migration patterns of the whales, and their arrival at different port towns could be estimated fairly accurately.

Ralston 1977, p. 16.

Today, over 50 years later, we can read studies, who have analyzed hundreds of whaling logbooks in order to visualize their migration patterns, but also to show the favoured ports and islands for stopovers. With these technical skills, the study confirmed many research results of Ralston.1

Due to the hard-working conditions and danger of the whaling industry or due to conflicts on board, seamen did regularly leave ships during these long voyages. Today, one considers them as Beachcombers. Beachcombers, who left the ships and tried to seek safety among Indigenous communities, are defined by Ralston as “being temporarily of permanently detached from one group, enters the web of social relations that constitutes another society and comes under the influcence of its customs, ideas and values to a greater of lesser extent.”2 The total dependency on hospitality and goodwill shaped their interaction with Indigenous communities. When it came to contact situations, beachcombers formed as important translators and mediators and so were able to demonstrate their importance towards both sides.

Campbell, however, criticized this aspect in a review of 1978:

“By overestimating the quality of the communication between beachcombers and islanders over aspects of European culture (p 33) Ralston makes the exaggerated claim that ‘the beachcombers were largely instrumental in the early processes of island acculturation’ (p 42); and surely the beachcomber era was too early, and the beachcombers themselves too few and too sparse for one to be able to speak of ‘race relations’, far less to claim for them credit in establishing egalitarian race relations (p 45).”3

For each of the mentioned Pacific ports, Ralston explains the economic activities, but also the land-transactions of individuals with Indigenous communities. She reminds that Māori did understand that they sell their land, as the early deed of sales of land demonstrate. Ralston is impressed about the fact that these deeds “contained surprisingly detailed descriptions of the land to be transferred and emphasise[…] that the Māori had relinquished all rights to the land. It is impossible to know how much the Māori understood of these transactions, but few of the Kororareka sales were later disputed. Perhaps twenty years’ experience of the missionaries’ insistence on private property had had some effect.”4

In these land transactions, she notices a high degree of Māori agency, when it came to the price of land throughout the 1830s:

“With the growing number of foreigners moving into Kororareka, the Māori were quick to appreciate the rising value of land and put up their prices accordingly. However, they would at no time (not even just after annexation when prices were sky-high) contemplate selling the land on which their pa was built.”4

  1. Smith, Tim; Lund, Judith; Reeves, Randall; Josephson, Elizabeth (2012): Spatial and Seasonal Distribution of American Whaling and Whales in the Age of Sail. In: PLoS One 7 (4), pp. 1-25.; Spatial and Seasonal Distribution of American Whaling and Whales in the Age of Sail [Last Access: 13.04.2022.] []
  2. Ralston 1977, p. 20. []
  3. Alan Frost , Roderic Lacey & I. C. Campbell (1978) Book reviews, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 13,3, pp. 188-192, p. 191. []
  4. Ralston 1977, p. 91. [] []

The Online Lectures of Skip Finley: “Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy”

Skip Finley has published 2020 a monograph, in which he focusses entirely on the people of colour, who crucially contributed to the success and participated in the whaling industry between 1750 and 1914

This publication echoed intensively among the (non-)scientific community of New England’s whaling heritage ‘bubble’, as he was invited by various local historical societies, libraries and museums in order to introduce his important contribution to the history of the whaling industry.

Most of the lectures have been taken place virtually via Zoom and have been uploaded on the Youtube channels of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Museum of Martha’s Vineyard, the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, the Boston Public Library, Mattapoisett Museum, Southampton History Museum, the Salem Athenaeum, and surely much more.

Online-Lecture given at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, in: Youtube, William Martin and the Whaling Captains of Color with Skip Finley | MV Museum – YouTube, [Last Access: 27.03.2022]

If you are interested to listen to his key results, you can follow one of his first lectures, which he gave to the New Bedford Whaling History Museum:

Logbook analysis: “William Hamilton” (1834-1837)

Some years ago, the Providence Public Library in Rhode Island has digitized its entire whaling logbook collection, which includes over 750 logbooks of American whaling voyages and covers an amazing time period between 1762 and 1931. The whole collection is now available through archive.org1 In order to receive a certain overview, this collection offers a detailed finding aid to the public.2

During the year of 2020, when most of the world was overwhelmed with the Pandemic, I had the opportunity to analyse a part of those available logbooks of the Swain and Starbuck family, which cruised into the Pacific Ocean. In this context, I would like to introduce you the logbook of the whaling voyage of the WILLIAM HAMILTON whaling ship, which was at sea between 1834 and 1837.3

The whaling ship was owned by Isaac Howland at New Bedford, and William Swain captained the voyage. In this blog article, I want to show you how I have reconstructed the voyage and analysed the digitized logbook, which you can find here.4

For this, I used a simple Excel document, and defined already beforehand, what kind of developments and encounters I am interested in. On the Y axis, I decided to categorize my observations in “Sojourn in”, “Communication with”, “Land in sight”, trading with”, “Recruitment”, “whale in sight”, “Hunting process” as well as “etc.” The X axis marked the timeline. In doing so, I moved from page to page, and “screened” each whaling logbook page for relevant observations, which I noted down immediately. This allows me, to go through the Logbook just by scrolling the document to the right and I have immediately access to the most interesting information for myself.

Private Excel document. Click on the picture in order to view the picture in more detail.

As you can see on this small glimpse of the Excel document, I can immediately reconstruct the sailing route of the whaling ship only by following the ports, which the logbook mentions. In this case, the whaling ship departed from New Bedford and most likely rounded the Cape Horn because he stopped for the first time in Chile, then went further northwards for a stopover at Payta, continued its voyage in the direction of the Society Islands and headed to Aotearoa/ New Zealand, before he sailed to Otaheite and then sailed back to New Bedford. On the whaling voyage, the ship meet many other ships, as you can see.

Stopovers were crucial for whaling voyages. They needed them for refreshment and in order to trade goods, supplies, and also to recruit Indigenous sailors for their voyages. While the logbooks keepers did routinely trace developments during the voyages at sea, they remained disappointingly silent on land, and only continued with entries when they began to sail again. Having these gaps in mind, helps me to realize for how long the ships did stay at harbour.

Now let me go in further detail on one of the stopovers and skip to January 1836, when the whaling ship arrived the Bay of Islands. At the 8th of January 1836, the logbook mentions: “5 PM spoke the LADY AMHERST5 of London 28 month out with 2500 bbl Oil” and then: “Land in sight”. You can read the entry at the end of the left page here.6

Whaling ships saw it essential in coming in touch together and to exchange crucial information, and their current state of their voyage; thus, one often read of whaling ships, which also give their amount of whale cargo which they have hunted and boiled already. As you can see from the page, William Swain did meet at the Bay of Islands also the whaling ship SARAH AND ELIZABETH7. Since the ship was on the end of his voyage, the Logbook just briefly records “spoke the Sarah and Elizabeth, full bound home”. The captain of this London-based whaling ship was also another William Swain, one of his relatives, who lived in London and was regularly with whaling voyages in the Pacific Ocean too. Together with the LADY AMHERST, the SARAH ELIZABETH sailed back to London.

Both William Swain do have the same family background in the Quaker community of Nantucket, and the name of the Ship William Hamilton shows already, that the whaling ship of owners of Howland in New Bedford seem to have been aware of the history of the Quaker whalers, who migrated to Europe roughly between 1790 and 1815 for William Hamilton is considered as the pivotal contributor of the establishment of the Milford Haven. He is known to have invited and supported those Quaker whalers to come to Wales in order to establish and to continue their whaling activities.

The whaling ship William Hamilton arrived at 10th January 1836 the Bay of Islands and seems to have remained until 27th January 1836 at the harbour, because there are no logbook entries for the days in between, which you can see on the right page.6

In the days after they sailed they prepared the stores and the logbook regularly mentions entries such as “all hands employed storing chicken” or “the watch employed in ships duty”. Just two days after they left the Bay of Islands, they saw a whale and lowered the boats, and such whale sightings were even drawn in the daily entries.

On the last pages of the logbook, the keeper shows unusually the crew of the different parts of the ship and shows, how the constitution of the boat-crews changed and differed during the voyages. This proves to be a valuable insight into the multi-ethnicity of the crew, because it also mentions the places and islands from where some crew-members were taken off. Some crew members were taken from Pacific Islands such as the Galapagos, Navigator Islands, Society Islands Tongataboo or New Zealand as you can see on this logbook page here.8

Thank you very much for reading this. This was a very brief overview of a logbook, and in case you have a question to any part or aspect, you are welcome to leave a comment.

  1. Nicholson whaling collection, in,, [Last Access: 12.03.2022]. []
  2. Wells, Kate (2019): Finding Aid, Nicholson whaling logbook collection 1762-1931,, [last Access: 12.03.2022]. []
  3. William Hamilton, 1834-1837, in: whaling history database,, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  4. William Hamilton Logbook 1834-1837, in:,, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  5. LADY AMHERST, in: whaling history database,, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  6. William Hamilton Logbook, in:, [Last Access:12.03.2022] [] []
  7. Sarah and Elizabeth, in: whaling history database,, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  8. William Hamilton Logbook, in:, [Last Access:12.03.2022] []

“FEEGI” Conference, 24th – 26th February 2022

Next week, the “Forum of the Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions” (FEEGI) will come virtually together for its fourteenth Biennial Meeting, and I am very happy to introduce my dissertation project in their Saturday Panel “Entangled Lives”.

The Panel will be chaired by Prof. Ty Reese (University of North Dakota), and will furthermore include presentations of Prof. Amélia Polónia/ Rosa Capelão (University of Porto), Dr. Michael Bennett (University fo Sheffield) and Viviana Quintero Márquez (Vanderbilt University).

The full program of the conference can be found here:

What did whaling had to do with New England’s colonization

The development of the whaling industry in New England and Nantucket had its origin in the wider colonization process of the American continent – and this also reflects the area’s heritage.1 .

From the 17th century onwards, many settler societies along the coast of New England were involved in the whaling industry as a natural extraction industry to varying degrees. Today there is research about the whaling history of various cities such as the Hudson Bay2, Long Island3, New London4, Rhode Island5, Fall River6, Salem7, Dartmouth in Nova Scotia8, as well as Nantucket9 and New Bedford.10

For the period of the whaling industry between 1784 and 1928, Finley lists even over 75 different whaling ports along the North American coastlines.11 Despite the high amount of whaling ports however, the economic power was still concentrated just on few ones. Nantucket belonged to the most famous and successful cities as their fleet amounted almost 70% of all ships cruising along the whale patterns in the Atlantic.

It were not only settlers, but mariners with background of Native American communities or from the African continent, which contributed crucially to the rise of thw whaling industry. Scholars like Karttunen, Nicholas, Shoemaker, Silverman and Vickers localize the whaling industry’s success to the important role of Colonial Others such as Native American communities and of people with roots from the African continent.12 According to research opinions, the arriving settler families, who took part in the whaling industry, grounded their economic success on the extraction of labour force via distinct practises such as indentured servitude13 or a complex system of “indebtedness”.14 The labour forces of the whaling industry, as Vickers revealed, consisted mainly of “hands from the Indian community”15 and from people with roots from the African continent.

Shoemaker reminds us that Native American communities kept a relationship to whales long before the contact with European actors.16 Even before the arrival of the Mayflower with its first Pilgrim and Dutch settlers in Cape Cod in 1619, Native American communities and sachems along the coast of New England were familiar with these seasonal movements and the processing of stranded whales. Shoemaker realizes that “Sachem held sovereign rights to whales that stranded in the shallows or on shore” and parts of the whale like “fins and flukes may have been considered delicacies or, more likely, may have had symbolic and ceremonial value”. The “political and legal practices” of sharing “pieces of stranded whales as gifts”17 seems to have been common in the area and similar observations have been done in neighbouring communties. Nantucket’s geographic position is also close to Cape Cod.

William Bradford was one of the passengers onboard the Mayflower and became the first colonial Governor of the then established Plymouth colony. Based on the accounts of him, Philbrick notes that they “were cutting the whale’s blubber into long strips when they saw the shallop approaching and fled, ´running to and fro, as if they had been carrying something.´”18 The Captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, as Philbrick adds, was himself formerly active in the Greenland whaling industry, and while cruising close to New England’s coastline, he ”claimed that if only they’d had some harpoons and lances they might have taken between three thousand and four thousand pounds’ worth of whale oil and baleen.”19 The settlers arrived in the area of southern New England, which today form the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut20.


  1. Daley, Justin (2020): New England Whaling Heritage. The impact of Capitalism on Preservation and Public Interpretation. PhD Thesis. Flinders University, Adelaide. College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, , [last access: 10.02.2022] []
  2. Schram, Margaret (2004): Hudson’s Merchants and Whalers. The Rise and Fall of a River Port, 1783-1850. New York: Black Dome Press. []
  3. Strong, John (2018): America´s Early Whalemen. Indian Shore Whalers on Long Island, 1650-1750: University of Arizona Press. []
  4. Shoemaker, Nancy (2015): Native American Whalemen. Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. []
  5. Sherman, Stuart (1965): The Voice of the Whaleman. With an Account of the Nicholson Whaling Collection. Providence RI. []
  6. Lund, Judith (2012): Fall River goes Whaling. In: Coriolis – Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies 3 (2), pp. 1-14. []
  7. Druett, Joan (2009): The Salem Connection. American Contacts with Early Colonial New Zealand. In: Journal of New Zealand Studies 8, pp. 169-194.; Medina, Isagani (1973): American Logbooks and Journals in Salem, Massachusetts on the Philippines 1796-1894. In: Asian Studies, Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia 11 (1), pp. 177-198. []
  8. Follini, Maida (2006): A Quaker Odyssey. The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven, Wales. In: Canadian Quaker History Journal 71, pp. 1-21. []
  9. Stackpole, Edouard A. (1972): Whales and Destiny. The rivalry between America, France, and Britain for control of the southern whale fishery, 1785-1825. Amherst MA.; Vickers, Daniel (1983): The first Whalemen of Nantucket. In: The William and Mary Quarterly 40 (4), pp. 560-583; Vickers, Daniel (1985): Nantucket whalemen in the deep-sea fishery. The changing anatomy of an early American labor force. In: The Journal of American History 72 (2), pp. 277-296. []
  10. Gallman, Robert; Davis, Lance; Gleiter, Karin (1997): In Pursuit of Leviathan. Technology, Institutions, Productivity, and Profits in American Whaling, 1816-1906. Chicago: Chicago University Press.; Stackpole 1972 []
  11. Finley, Skip (2020): Whaling Captains of Colour. America´s first Meritocracy. Dulles VA: Naval Institute Press, pp. 235-237 []
  12. Karttunen, Frances (2005): The Other Islanders. People who pulled Nantucket’s oars. New Bedford: Spinner Publications, Inc.; Nicholas, Mark (2002): Mashpee Wampanoags of Cape Cod, the Whalefishery, and Seafaring’s Impact on Community Development. In: The American Indian Quarterly 26 (2), pp. 165-197.; Shoemaker 2014; 2015 ; Silverman, David (2001): The Impact of Indentured Servitude on the Society and culture of Southern New England Indians, 1680-1810. In: The New England Quarterly 74 (4), pp. 622-666.; Vickers 1983; 1985. []
  13. Salmond, Anne (1997): Between Worlds. Early Exchanges between Maori and Europeans 1773-1815. Auckland NZ: Penguin Books, p. 316. []
  14. Vickers 1983, p. 577 []
  15. Vickers 1983, p. 568 []
  16. Shoemaker, Nancy (2014): Living with whales. Documents and oral histories of Native New England whaling history. Amherst: University of Massachussetts Press.. []
  17. Shoemaker 2014, p. 32 []
  18. Philbrick, Nathaniel (2006): Mayflower. A story of courage, community, and war. New York: Penguin Group.. []
  19. Philbrick 2006, p. 57. []
  20. Karttunen 2002; Philbrick 2006; Salisbury, Neal (1984): Manitou and Providence. Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1643. New York: Oxford University Press.; Zelner, Kyle (2009): A Rabble in Arms. Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip’s War. New York: New York University Press; Bahar, Matthew (2019): Storm of the Sea. Indians & Empires in the Atlantic´s Age of Sail. Oxford: Oxford University Press. []

A (maritime) CMS Station at the Bay of Islands?

In the past few months, I had the opportunity to dive into the history of the Church Missionary (CMS) stations and settlements in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in the early nineteenth century, and in this brief post, I would like to share some observations. Reading and thinking about the Church Missionary stations on the Northern Island of Aotearoa/ New Zealand in the period 1815-1840, I realized not only 1) the importance of the sea for missionaries, but also 2) the maritime background of missionary members, who were sent to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

As soon as the first Māori persons worked and travelled onboard of colonial whaling ships in the early 1800s or visited Port Jackson such as the Māori rangatira Te Pahi, missionary efforts have been done to establish a CMS settlement on the Islands of Aotearoa/ New Zealand. The first efforts came from Marsden, after he had meet Te Pahi for the first time in 1805. Reverend Samuel Marsden, who had settled already in 1794 in the New South Wales colony and later joined the CMS, was so impressed of him, that he urged the CMS to establish a settlement in Aotearoa/ New Zealand too.

Formed in 1799, the members (and ideas) of the Church Missionary Society quickly spread by establishing mission stations across the world and in the Pacific Ocean.

The ´institutional infrastructure´ of the CMS consisting of a ´headquarter´ based in London and the increasingly growing number of mission stations outside the British islands enabled the circulation of letters, correspondences, goods, and people from one place to another. From 1813 onwards, the CMS office in London forged and brought the local report of each mission station together into Annual periodicals, printed every year, which were then distributed again across the mission stations. These, (highly processed), annual periodicals are today online accessible at the website of the Yale University Library.

In the following 10 years, it were ships, which enabled contacts and interactions between young Māori men, who travelled and worked onboard of European vessels and went across the oceans and as far as London. Te Pahi visited 1808 Port Jackson onboard of European ships in order to complain about the violent behaviour of sailors. Marsden, who was at this time in London, met Ruatara 1809 in a port of London and sailed with him back to Sydney.

During a stopover in Rio de Janeiro onboard of the Missionary ship ACTIVE, William Hall informs Samuel Marsden in a letter, that he had picked up a Person from New Zealand on the Islands of Madeira, in order to bring him back home.1

When he and Thomas Kendall arrived on a ship in Sydney 1810 in order to sail further to the Bay of Islands to install a CMS settlement, they learnt of the so-called Boyd Massacre – named after the ship BOYD, which came under attack during a stopover in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. 2

The Boyd incidence delayed any missionary settlement effort and it took several years until in November 1814, the missionary ship ACTIVE (Capt. Hanson), brought a group of 35 persons to the Bay of Islands. Marsden recorded in his Journal of his first visit from Sydney to Aotearoa/ New Zealand:

On Monday the 28th [Nov. 1814] we weighed Anchor, and got out to sea, the number of persons on board (including women and children), were thirty-five – Mr. Hanson, Master, his wife and son, Messr. Kendall, Hall, and King with their wives and five children; – 8 New Zealanders, – two Otaheitans and four Europeans belonging to the vessel, besides Mr. Nicholas, myself, two Sawyers, one Smith, and one runaway convict (as we found him to be afterwards).

Marsden’s First Visit to New Zealand, p. 41-42.

The diversity of the first missionary settlement as well as the fact that it came under the patronage of several Māori rangatira at Oihi shows that the settlement was included in various networks. Angela Middleton has observed several systematic similarities but also differences among other CMS Stations throughout the Pacific Ocean:

“[1] They all depended on the patronage and support of powerful indigenous people like the Pomares in Tahiti, Kamehameha in Hawaii, and in New Zealand, Ruatara and Hongi Hika. […]

[2.] In all these cases, the missions were reliant to a large extent on the local population for much of their food supplies, as well as labour for building and maintaining the missions.

[3.] The distances between missions and “home” societies in England meant that there were huge delays and difficulties in communication, with replies to letters and requested supplies taking up to 2 years to be received.

[4] Missionaries in these locations found themselves caught up in local wars and internal conflicts and politics.3

Map of the Bay of Islands, drawn in a letter of William Williams to CMS Secretary, in Cadbury Research Library Birmingham, CMS/B/OMS/C/ N O 95/ 23/ p. 3 – Private Picture – 30.09.2021.

From the very beginning, the CMS station members seem to have been included not only in the missionary networks, but were also closely connected with Māori settlements, with Samuel Marsden and the Penal colony in NSW and Van Diemens Land, (therefore connected within the so-called Tasman World)4, and of course with the whaling ships, which regularly anchored at the Bay of Islands. Thus, ships formed the only possible means for the CMS station to remain in touch with the Marsden in NSW but also to the CMS Secretary in London, and also to receive crucial supplies, and information.

While conflicts and a constant lack o supplies shaped the first ten years, the arrival of Henry Williams in 1823 and his brother William Williams in 1826 promised better times. The majority of the CMS members, who arrived either at the beginning or came afterwards to the growing numbers of CMS stations, consisted of carpenters, who had knowledge in designing or constructing ships, had retired from the Navy or had ancestors working in the Navy. At the Bay of Islands, they were in touch with Māori Individuals, who surely had a distinct knowledge of the sea too.

Early after his arrival, Henry Williams instructed William Puckey, one of the Missionaries, to design and built together with Māori a missionary vessel, which they named HERALD, a 55 ton schooner. Their own ship, so the intention, would allow and enable them a certain degree of economic independency. Captains like Gilbert Mair, Hanson or Capt. Peter Dillon (also known with the French title Le Chevalier) were names, that were quite familiar to the Missionaries.

Reading about these “maritime influences” I had to think about the maritime influences of the NSW colony, as David Haines and Jonathan West stress in their articles of 2018 called “crew cultures in the Tasman World”. And indeed, the first four colonial Governors had Navy background, which was “unique among British colonies”.5 Men from the Navy constituted also Sydney’s civil service to an important extent, while also ship “Captains had magisterial authority” with all the consequences and dynamics, which comes with it.


Primary sources:

Hall, William (1809): Letter to Marsden, 28.09.1809, in: Cadbury Research Library, CMS/B/OMS/C/N E/2.

Marsden, Samuel (1814): Reverend Samuel Marsden’s First Visit to New Zealand, In: Marsden Online Archive, MS/ 176/001,, [last Access: 27.01.2022]

  1. Hall to Marsden, 28.09.1809, in: Cadbury Research Library, CMS/B/OMS/C/N E/2 []
  2. This surely needs to be topic of another post here []
  3. Middleton, Angela (2008): Te Puna – A New Zealand Mission Station. Historical Archaeology in New Zealand. New York: Springer, p. 79-80 []
  4. This needs to be topic of another post here as well []
  5. Haines, David; West, Jonathan (2018): Crew Cultures in the Tasman World, in: Steel, Frances (Ed.): New Zealand and the Sea. Historical Perspectives. Wellington, pp. 181-200, p. 186. []

January month is Moby-Dick Marathon month

Hello everybody, I hope this finds you very well, and you had a great start into the new year of 2022. Foremost, I want to thank those of you, who regularly visit and read this blog, I appreciate both your attention and interest.

Those, who read and follow this research blog for a while, might have wondered already, when I would finally come to talk about Moby Dick for the first time. While I missed the bicentennial anniversary of Herman Melville some years ago in 1st August 2019, now I think there is a good occasion to talk of this famous novel now. In January 1997, the New Bedford Whaling museum began to invite people to come together, so that each person can read a chapter for almost two days at the beginning of the year.

New Bedford Whaling Museum – Private Picture – 26.04.2019.

As you can imagine, this event comes not only with a lot of fun and enjoyment, but usually brings a lot of people together and due to Covid restrictions however the 2021 as well as the 2022 Moby Dick Marathons have been pursued entirely virtual. In order to give you an impression of how it looks like, the New Bedford whaling museum staff had asked people worldwide and so collected and gathered an 25 hours video recording, which lasts almost as long as it would physically last, if you want to read Moby Dick on a constant base.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum had uploaded the whole reading marathon in several pieces:

From Introduction to Chapter 42

From Chapter 43 to Chapter 88

From Chapter 89 to Chapter 132

From Chapter 133 to Epilogue

At this page here, you can find the complete list of each person, who read the chapters. Apart from the English chapters, some chapters were double read in different languages. Chapter 10A, 10B, 41B, 83, 94 and 109 in Portuguese language, and Chapter 51 in German language.

What my dissertation project would say about the year 2021 (2/2)

July to September 2021 – vacation, vaccination, and preparation

In July 2021, I planned to take some weeks free from work, free from writing, free from reading articles and take a break of constantly thinking of my research project. Apart from visiting friends, applying for an UK visa, I used also the opportunity to attend together with some other doctoral researchers a “Schreibwerkstatt”, kindly organized by PD Dr. Simon Karstens from Trier University. Within two very intensive and productive days, we talked, discussed and analyzed text passages, the working environments as well as useful tools and skills to write and to structure the work in long-term projects.

I used the first weeks of August to organize the last aspects of my archive stay in the UK and to book the places in Birmingham, Aberystwyth, Haverfordwest and London. The August marked also the beginning of this research blog and one of my first intentions was to devote at least one blog article to each archive.

By the late August I eventually moved to London and Birmingham and quickly began to read the first manusripts of the Cadbury Research Library in Birmingham in the first weeks of September. The Missionary manuscripts turned out to be very productuve and helpful from the very beginning. In Birmingham, I also contacted some staff members of the Department of History at the Birmingham University and so came in touch with Dr. Tom Cutterham. We had a great conversation and agreed to stay in touch in the future.

October to December 2021 – conferences, conferences, conferences

The preparation of conference presentations as well as archive researches in Aberystwyth, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven and London shaped the last quartal of 2021. At the first of October, I had the opportunity to introduce my topic to the audience of the Australian Seascapes Conference of the “Gesellschaft für Australienstudien“, which took place virtually via Zoom between 30th Sept. and 2nd Oct. 2021.

In the last week of November then between 23rd and 26th Nov. 2021, the New Zealand Historical Association came virtually together under the conference title “Ako: Learning from History“. I was delighted and very thankful to have had the possibility to present my research project in front of a Aotearoa/ New Zealand audience.

The last presentation, which I had in 2021 was in mid of Dec. 2021 to the GHI London Colloquium, where I have shown the first results of findings during the time in the UK. Being back in Germany now, I have used the christmas days to take a break and look forward to beginning the new year of 2022 with new motivation and to read the archive material, which I have collected and gathered.

What my dissertation project would say about the year 2021 (1/2)

I had aimed to write this article already ealier in December 2021, yet the last month of the year literally rushed over me. I travelled back from my archive stay in the UK – (in retrospect I came back very timely before the rise of the new Omicron variant) – and only some weeks afterwards I presented my research topic as well as the first archive results to the audience in the context of the German Historical Institute London Colloquium. Perhaps you have seen already the new page of my blog “upcoming events”.

From my dissertation’s point of view, the year of 2021 was very productive and I would like to go once again through the quartals and by giving some further insights.

January to March 2021 – Second Writing process

Before I come to the writing process of 2021, I need to give a few notes into my former writing process from the last year. In the first half of 2020, I wrote already the first coherent chapters by outlining the theories, concepts and questions of my dissertation topic. I was happy to have started writing at a very early stage in english language, because I quickly realized how difficult and heavy it was for me, to write this dissertation in a language, which I can use for sure, yet to which I still bear a bit of respect.

The writing process has also much to do with the comfort zone. It is comparably very easy to spent hours and days in databases, taking notes in research journals and quoting passages in research articles and monographs. These (still important) works merged to a “productive” way of procastination. It is however, much more difficult to write these results down, to form the thoughts and notes into sentences and passages and pages.

During my studies, I very seldom had experienced writing blockades, as I wrote the most of my works in german language, which is, in fact, my native language, and in which I feel much more comfortable. Therefore, I had many difficulties at the beginning to combine and to stick my quotes and notes of research articles and monographs into my own words and to structure them into coherent and logic passages. The first writing process of 2020 therefore was highly shaped by feelings of wrong perfectionism, by deleting passages and pages (sorry, I will never do it again!) and many discussions. Therefore, it took a while to recognize that it is all a process and that it does not need to be “perfect” yet, because right now the focus is on production, production, production, and not on perfection, perfection, perfection.

In the first months of 2021, however, the “second” writing phase went much easier and much more structured. While I dived deeper into the “Atlantic” part, I also started with writing the first few general chapters of the “Pacific” part. Starting with an “Atlantic” chapter allowed me to go in more detail into the characteristics of Nantucket, New Bedford, the history of the early colonization process of New England, the history of Quaker settlers, the Wampanoags, Native American, to the history of slavery as well as of practices of indentured servitude and unfree labour in the whaling industry too.

By focussing explicitly on the members of the Starbuck and the Swain Families, I filtered and extracted any information and knowledge, which I could receive from existing secondary literature (thank you CITAVI), and, what was much more important: from digitised historical aids like the database or the Barney Genealogical records of the Nantucket Historical Association.

All this combined with primary sources such as the entirely digitsed “Nicholson whaling logbook collection” of the Providence Public Library in Rhode Island as well as the entirely digitised Probate records for Nantucket I was able to collect and built my first source fundament (thank you EXCELL) in order to write down my first results and insights.

During this writing process, I regularly attended the online writing sessions of a group of doctoral researchers from various german universities, which had been established in Dec. 2020. I found it very helpful for myself, to create a sense of reliability together and to stay connected with like-minded during a period of lockdowns and physical social distance.

April to June 2021 – pursuing digital archive research – and applying for analog archive research

The addition of new aspects, changes and never ending revisions of chapters and the chapters’ structures shaped the month of April, while at the same time, I stuck to the screen for reading and analyzing digitised colonial sources about the local history and the economic circumstances of the whaling industry in Nantucket and New England in the 18th and 19th century.

It was in this period of time, when the German Historical Institute London announced their scholarship-application for archive stays for doctoral researchers who work on colonial or british-history related topics. The preparation of the research proposal – deadline: 31st May – was very intense and time-consuming, yet it gave me much inspiration and motivation for another writing process for the month of June.

The White-Board suffered a lot under my ideas and visual concepts. – private picture – 11th June 2021.

In manifold ways, the June formed one of the highlights of the year, because

1) the DFG decided to fund the research project, in which I am working in

2) the German Historical Institute London accepted my application

3) I finallly received the appointments for my Covid vaccinations 🙂

New Zealand Historical Association Conference: 23rd – 26th November 2021

From Tuesday until Friday, 23rd Nov. – 26th Nov. 2021, the New Zealand Historical Association will organize virtually their Biennial Conference, and I am very delighted to contribute to their programme with a presentation of my dissertation project.

According to the Organizers, the Conference programme includes over “60 sessions with over 130 presenters, covering topics from the history of theatre to rugby and nationalism and from heritage buildings to historical fiction”.

Together with Julia Bradshaw (Canterbury Museum, NZ), I will present my topic in a panel called “Colonial Trading”, which is chaired by John Stenhouse (University of Otago) at Thursday 2 pm (New Zealand Time). Given the -13 hours time difference to London, and -12 hours time difference to Germany, I will join the panel in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, at 1 am London time (or 2 am german time.)

In case you are interested in attending the Zoom-Conference throughout the week (or at least for only some panels), a brief registration and a fee of 15 or 30 NZD is required.

The full conference programme can be seen here:

My archive adventure in Haverfordwest – and why it needs to be continued

Academic research is never a linear, clear and straight-forwarded process, as it seems to look like in CVs. It requires or leds often to decisions, thinking, overthinking, neglection, the (over-)emphasis or the overlooking of aspects and research questions, approaches and methods.

My research stay in the Pembrokeshire Records Office demonstrated me, that sometimes, just small hand-written notes can point to further, bigger, sources and manuscripts than one might expect, but lets start from the beginning.

What did happen?

The third stopover of my research stay (20.-22. Oct. 2021) brought me to Haverfordwest to the Pembrokeshire Record Office. The city of Haverfordwest is at the very western part of Wales and very small. And calm. Very calm to be precise. Ironically, one of the few life-signs of the city was the long queue of old people waiting for their Covid Booster vaccinations at the entrance of the Pembrokeshire Record Office.

A very brief and vague online catalogue entry titled “GB 213 D/BT – Records of the Starbuck family of Nantucket Island and Milford Haven” [c. 1660]-1954, brought me to this little public office. I arrived with no expectations and did not expect to encounter a treasure.

In this box, i found a finding aid of no less than 69 different manuscripts, properly ordered and explained, relating to the Starbuck family with documents dating back as early as the 1660s, which list the names of the first 10 settlers and each of their partners in Nantucket. Among the material in the box, there were also several epistles of Quaker meetings held in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Later on, the archive staff kindly pointed me also to a transcribed online finding aid, that exists on their homepage. I stayed only for several days, because the archive had only open Thursdays and Fridays. In these two days, I was busy with picturing every manuscript and book, which I had found beforehand, and I did not saw the time to actually read or go through the material.

The race against the short opening times of Archives, in particular in rural and far-away places, is an experience, which my supervisor Eva Bischoff had always kept telling me: “You always find the most interesting things at the very last moment close to the closing hours”.

Until last week, I claimed for myself not to face such situations and always thought: “This will not happen to me, I will search the archive database properly and clearly and nothing then will be left”.

Well, so far, so naive. I had taken a pictures of the detailed finding aid, and I might have been blended by the dark-censored lines, or while taking pictures, I automatically focussed on the terms “Land” and “NANTUCKET ISLAND”, which draw my very attention. Having my research questions in mind, this might be totally reasonable, you might argue. What else could be important here, you might wonder.

This short notice here: “See also HDX/1018”

Finding aid: DB/T Starbuck Papers: Private Picture, 21.10.2021

I realized this, when I went through the picture again, and when i checked the reference. “Ah, yeah, this surely, cannot be that important”, but you never know, better double checked than regretting once. So, i used the database, which the archive staff had introduced me.

And yees, it was important. I have barely experienced such an importance and urgency of any sources during my research stay in UK here (ok, I admitt thats exaggeration.) The refence’s name titled: HDX/1018 – Deeds and Documents from the Milford Haven Town sounds very promising and includes even more promising Dokuments.

And guess what: by checking the reference signature and by using further keywords such as Milford Haven etc., further material came across, which was invisible before.

HDX/250/1 – Copy of the genealogy of the Nantucket and Milford Quaker families

HDX/250/2 – Copy of the diary of Abial Colmen Folger, wife of Timothy Folger

HDX/380/1 – Description of Milford Haven in thr 19th century

HDX/380/4 – draft pedigree of the Starbuck family of Milford Haven

HDX/380/5 – Manuscript history of the Starbuck family

HDX/380/9 – General Notes on Milford Haven

HDX/380/13 – Notes on Milford Haven

HDX/486/1-4 – Historic Nantucket Journals

HDX/1726/2 – Notes from the diary of Thomas Clarkson, anti-slavery campaigner, who visited Pembrokeshire in 1824

HDX/1929/1 – Lease book for the Milford Haven Estate, relating to leases dated 1801-1881

Long story, short: I will travel wednesday to Haverfordwest again, and will have Thursday and Friday time to read the listed manusripts here and by writing these lines, i realize now that one of my biggest issues will be the race against the time.

Milford Havens connections to Nantuckets whaling industry

In my last blogpost, I finished the text with a long self-transcribed quote, which I have drew out of a radio episode. The quote, however, was not the only fascinating information, which I received. I also learnt of the Milford Haven Museum by accident. I have linked you here the Facebook-page of the small museum.

Milford Haven was not necessarily on my archive research list but surely on my visiting list. Between 1795 and 1820, the small rural city in the far south west of Wales, with its 14.000 inhabitants, became the center of Quaker whaling families of Starbuck and the Folgers. The political and economic difficulties, which these Quaker whalers faced in their their temporarily places across the Atlantic Ocean consisting of 1) London, 2) in the British colony of Nova Scotia (today Canada), as well as in the 3) French city of Dunkirk led Quaker whalers to seek alternative harbours to continue their whaling activities. Eventually, they found in the persons of Lord Greville and William Hamilton two willing supporters of a whaling settlement at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.1

Greville and “Hamilton requested and gained permission from Parliament to build a town with docks, warehouses and a custom house on his land at Milford Haven.” Moreover, they convinced the Government in London “to subsidize the removal of the whalemen from North America to Britain, as part of their plan to encourage whaling from the home island.” 2 According to Follini, “Greville was the nephew of Sir William Hamilton who owned the manor of Hubberston, in Wales on the magnificent harbour of Milford Haven.” It was this Greville who “had a vision of developing the area as a whaling port.”2

Private Picture – 20.10.2021.

Having this historical background in mind, I used the opportunity to visit Milford Haven, the small rural city in the far south west of Wales. As soon as I heard of the Milford Haven Museum I contacted them via Facebook, which is the only way to come in touch with them. The small museum consists of 4 rooms on two floors and offers a beautiful collection of Milford Havens maritime heritage ranging from the 19th century until today. The most interesting part of their collection for me however, included among others a huge genealogical tree of Nantucket´s families. Talking with Sue Kenny, one of the volunteers, the genealogical tree has been was handed to them in the 20th century by a descendant of the Starbuck family. For the collection, they had enlarged the tree to 4×2 metres.

Milford Haven Museum – Private Picture, 20.10.2021.

The Genealogy of the Nantucket 18 (?) and Milford Haven Friends. – Private Picture, 20.10.2021.

In the same room, the collection provides also a laminated version of the Dairy of Abiel Foulger of the year 1807, which can be read by interested guests. According to its introduction, they seem to have copied the transcription from the collection of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Private Picture, 20.10.2021.

As you might remember from my last blogpost that Abiel Folger was not the only women as she belonged to a large group of Quaker families, who moved together to Milford Haven. Yet she seems to have had a good relationship to the Swain family.

In a dairy entry of 4th July, she writes that “we received letters from Abiel Sally & Alex Swain.”

Unfortunately, she does not mention, from where she received the letter, because during this period, the Quaker family members of the Swain appeard to live in Nantucket, Nova Scotia, Dunkirk, London and in Milford Haven too.

One of the Swain, Barnabus Swain to be precise, lived in Milford Haven with the other Quakers, but from November 1807 onwards Barnabus seem to have decided to move to London and did not visit them during Christmas. In the dairy entries of November/December, briefly after her 71st birthday, she begins to mentions the correspondences with him.

“26. [Nov.] Swain Capt E C & Sally Boon drank tea hear”

“27. [Nov.] this is my birthday 71 years old.”

“28. [Nov.] this morn we Recivd a letter from B Swain before we weak up in the morn”

“29. [Nov.] we recivd a letter from Swain he had gone to London”

“6. [Dec.] We have bin writing B Swain ouer”

“13. [Dec.] First day we recivd a letter from B. Swain & wrote him an answer”

“18. [Dec.] no letter from Swain we fear he is sick”

“21. [Dec.] we wrote to Swain in London”

“26. [Dec.] this Day had a letter from Swain Saying he could not come Down it was too much to bare”

“27. [Dec.] grieving not to see Swain Dind on Sausage Pye”

“29. [Dec.] Samuel [Does she mean Starbuck? I am not sure] Recivd a letter from B Swain whairing he lements not being able to see us I dont wonder”

What I also find fascinating, is that only by walking through the small city, I also found many traces of Milford’s connection to both, Quaker whaling families but also New England as the whaling center at that time such as signs in restaurants, restaurants names, or street names.

  1. Morton, Harry (1982): The Whale´s Wake. Dunedin NZ, p. 99. []
  2. Follini, Maida (2006): A Quaker Odyssey. The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven, Wales. In: Canadian Quaker History Journal 71, pp. 1-21, p. 9. [] []

How a radio episode in Aberystwyth wetted my curiosity

Two weeks ago, at the 10th October on a Sunday afternoon, I took a Bus in Birmingham and travelled 4 hours to Wales, to Aberystwyth to be precise. Given that Aberystwyth is a small rural city with 18.000 inhabitants, and excluded from any motorway or any bigger cities or metropole areas in Wales, I was astonished of the vivid atmosphere, which shaped the city, even on a sunday night.

The city has an university and its 6000 enrolled students as well as the beautiful promenade along the coast definitely shape this city. To be honest: Aberystwyth belonged to one of those places of Wales, which I had never heard of. The cities of Cardiff, of Swansea, as well as the Snowdonia National Park, the welsh football team and dragons (!?) were the only things, which came me or my friends in mind, with whom I talked about Wales. Yet, what is much more known to me is that Wales, or rather Milford Haven, had a brief chapter of whaling industry too as this small collection of research articles demonstrate:

Allen, Richard C. (2010): Nantucket Quakers and the Milford Haven Whaling Industry, c. 1791-1821. In: Quaker Studies 15 (1), pp. 6-31.

Clayton, Jane (2007): Nantucket Whalers in Milford Haven, Wales. In: Historic Nantucket, A Publication of the Nantucket Historical Association 56 (1), pp. 4-7.

Follini, Maida (2006): A Quaker Odyssey. The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven, Wales. In: Canadian Quaker History Journal 71, pp. 1-21.

McKay, K. (1989): A Vsion of Greatness, the history of Milford, 1790-1990, Pembrokeshire: Brace Harvatt Associates.

Thomas, Flora (1920): The Builders of Milford. Haverfordwest: The Pembrokeshire Telegraph.

National Library of Wales – private Picture – 12.10.2021.

Despite its small composition, the city of Aberystwyth is also centre of the National Library of Wales, which is the most important reason, which bring me to this rural place at the coast of Wales. I have spent here a week and pre-ordered manuscripts related to the Starbuck Quaker whaling family, who were known to have relocated to Milford Haven further southwards of Wales between roughly between 1795 and 1820.

The material, which I have found here date mostly later than 1830 up to 1870 and the marriage certificates and wills show that the descendants of this part of the Starbuck family remained in Wales and England after the arrival. Clayton could reconstruct at least fifteen Nantucket families, who settled across the Atlantic to Milford Haven.1 The settlement was

“led by the Starbucks and the Folgers. Samuel Starbuck Sr. [who] came with his wife, Abigail, and their two sons, Samuel Jr. [Starbuck] and Daniel [Starbuck], along with their families. Timothy Folger brought his wife, Abiel [Folger]; one daughter, Peggy, with her husband David Grieve; and their son, Timothy Jr., along with his family.

Others who came to settle included several ship captains: Zacchary Bunker and his wife, Judith, with some of their children; Elisha Clarke and his wife, Elizabeth, with their children; Barnabus Swain; James Gwinn; Peter Macy; Benjamin Folger; David Coleman; Jonathan Paddock; Nathaniel Macy; Uriel Bunker; and Frederick Coffin – with or without their families. Several returned to New England, while others remained in Britain for the rest of their lives.”

Jane Clayton (2007)

Due to Covid-restrictions, it was necessary to book a reading desk a few days before-hand for each day. Arriving at the front-desk of the National Library, remained very curious, as the security had already a “guest-list” of all individuals, who had booked a reading desk beforehand. Apart from manuscripts, I found numerous interesting articles and books, which kept my interest.

  • The very helpful library staff, furthermore, directed my attention to audio-visual sources too. They pointed me to a short video clip of 1947 entitled “Milford Haven”, which is online available here and is kindly provided by the British Film Institute and the National Sound and Screen Archive of Wales. The 14 minutes give an impression of a whaling settlement, and pictures the small city as “little America”.

Apart from written documents and video clips, the collection also holds two BBC radio episodes about the Quakers in Wales of the BBC show “Good evening Wales”. They were published 7th November 2000 and 14th November 2000, but the first part is not available anymore in the National Library’s collection. They were produced by Sunny Davis, Jimmy Davis and Collin Davis.

Listening to the second part, however, was very fascinating as it seems to be a documentation which contained many quotes of several prominent and local individuals, who were familiar with the whaling industry, such as the famous Nantucket-located author (1) Nathaniel Philbrick, (2) Richard Allen, who published extensively on Quaker whalers in Wales, and as well as (3) George Springer, who was the local curator of the Milford Haven Museum at that time.

Among the many quotes, I found one oral statement of a person called Duckburg (?) worth to transcribe, which I will quote here now. He refers to the role of Milford Haven as a whaling harbour for the Quaker whalers and there is the assumption that Milford Haven was only used as an entrance harbour to remain access for their whale oil to sell it duty-free into the british market in the late 18th century. The American Revolutionary wars of 1776 found the Quakers in Nantucket excluded from selling their whale oil to the British market, and Quaker whalers put high efforts to relocate and establish whaling settlements on places such as Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Dunkirk, London and Milford Haven. Duckburg, however, wonders about the strikingly short whaling voyages and the high whale oil casks of Milford Haven whaling ships at the same time.

“[Moderator voice:] But those greasy whaling voyages could be strangely short. Duckburg. [Duckburg voice:] Unlike those from Nantucket, they would return to port with a full load of a good oil onboard in a matter of just a couple of month instead of several years, and one wonders if perhaps some of the Nantucket vessels met with some of the Milford Haven vessels and exchanged cargoes along the way, thereby avoiding the very heavy duties in tariffs, that had been placed upon American Oil, pretty crude (?) move as quakers remained nobodies provved (?) move (?).”

BBC Radio Episode, 14.11.2000, minute: 13:50 onwards

This last quote opened me a wide range of further questions and demonstrate again the translocality and the social and economic connection of these Quaker whalers in the Atlantic world. I clearly need to analyse these entanglements more specifically.

  1. Clayton, Jane (2007): Nantucket Whalers in Milford Haven, Wales. In: Historic Nantucket, A Publication of the Nantucket Historical Association 56 (1), pp. 4-7 []

›Australian Seascapes‹ : 27th Sept. – 2nd Oct. 2021

Today, I would like to put the attention on the 17th Biennial Conference of the Gesellschaft für Australienstudien | German Association for Australian Studies, which will take place within the week of 27th September 2021 and 2nd October 2021.

The conference will take place online via Zoom and include  “online lectures (»webinars«) with panel presentations and discussions.” “All conference events”, as the organizer PD Dr. Eva Bischoff concludes, “will take place between 8:00-13:00 CEST/ 16:00-21:00 AEST, giving Australian and German participants the opportunity to attend at their convenience.”

In order to take part, it is necessary to register here at Eventbrite.

The conference is supported by the DFG, hosted by Trier University and organized by PD Dr. Eva Bischoff, Department of International History.

Conference programm can be also found as a .pdf document.



08:00–09:00 CEST / 16:00–17:00 AEST: Webinar
Lynette Russell (Monash University): Planning for the Unknown and Unexpected
Chair: Eva Bischoff (Trier University)

09:00–09:30 CEST / 17:00–17:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

09:30–10:30 CEST / 17:30–18:30 AEST: Webinar
Paul Giles (University of Sydney): Negative Antipodes: Australian Literature and Planetary Seascapes
Chair: Katrin Althans (University of Duisburg-Essen / German Association for Australian Studies)


08:00–09:00 CEST / 16:00–17:00 AEST: Webinar
Killian Quigley (Australian Catholic University / University of Sydney): „A Fellow-Denizen of the Deep“: Diving in the Colonial Undersea
Chair: Katrin Kleemann (German Maritime Museum – Leibniz Institute for Maritime History / RCC LMU Munich)

09:00–09:30 CEST / 17:00–17:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

09:30–10:30 CEST / 17:30–18:30 AEST: Webinar
Ian Hoskins (Sydney): A Tentative Embrace: Depictions of the New South Wales Coast in Literature and Art, 1823–1932
Chair: Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp (Bonn University)

10.30–11:00 CEST / 18:30–19:00 AEST: Tea and Coffee

11:00–12:00 CEST / 19:00–20:00 AEST: Webinar
Leah Barclay (University of the Sunshine Coast): Listening to Australian Aquatic Ecosystems: Ecoacoustics in Marine Environments
Chair: Anja Schwarz (Potsdam University)


08:00–09:00 CEST / 16:00–17:00 AEST: Webinar
Ian Conrich (University of Vienna): Seascapes from an Island Continent: Coastal Australia on Film
Chair: Victoria Herche (University of Cologne)

09:00–09:30 CEST / 17:00–17:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

09:30–10:30 CEST / 17:30–18:30 AEST: Webinar
Rough Seas: From Mabo to Uluru
Geoff Rodoreda (University of Stuttgart) in conversation with Thomas Mayor, author of Finding the Heart of the Nation, and David Saylor, native title lawyer, Saylor Legal, Townsville


07:30–09:00 CEST / 15:30–17:00 AEST: Parallel Panels
1. „So it is captured from the sea“: Documenting the Pearling Industry of Broome
Stefanie Affeldt (University of Heidelberg) / Sarah Yu (Nyamba Buru Yawuru)

2. Between Indian and Pacific Oceans: Reframing Australian Literature
Meg Samuelson (University of Adelaide) / Madeleine Seys (University of Adelaide) / Mandy Treagus (University of Adelaide)

3. Indigenous Seascapes: Representations in Prose and Poetry
Jo Jones (Curtin University): Water Elegy: Mourning and the Mouth of the Swan River (Marragee and Wallyalup)
Geoff Rodoreda (University of Stuttgart): Seascapes of Alexis Wright

09:00–09:30 CEST / 17:00–17:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

09:30–11:00 CEST / 17:30–19:00 AEST: Parallel Panels
4. Temporalities and Geographies I
Daniel Rothenburg (University of Tübingen): The Bequest of an Ancient Sea: A Modern Australian Story about Environmental Consciousness in Deep Time
Kate Tehan (University of Melbourne): Surfing in the Australian Imaginary

5. Temporalities and Geographies II
Katrin Kleemann (German Maritime Museum – Leibniz Institute for Maritime History / RCC LMU Munich): Understanding the Sea: A History of the Flagstaff Observatory for Geophysics, Magnetism and Nautical Science in Melbourne, 1858–1864
Jean Page (University of Lisbon): „Vast Crystal Globe“ – Awash in the Sublime: James McAuley’s Twentieth Century Sea Voyage (Captain Quiros, 1964)

6. Indigenous Knowledges and Practices
Christina Ringel (Univ. of Cologne / TU Dortmund): Revitalising Linguistics and Cultural Knowledge
Anja Schwarz (Potsdam University): Looking across the Beach with Tupaia


07:30–09:00 CEST / 15:30–17:00 AEST: Parallel Panels
7. Politics, Policies, and Economy I
Alessandro Antonello (Flinders University): Australia’s Expanding Ocean Territories and the Law of the Sea, 1950s-1980s
Ina Voshage (University of Passau): No Worries? No Way! Australia’s Handling of Boat People

8. Coastal Encounters and the Agency of the Sea – three Oceans, three Temporalities, three Encounters
Leigh Penman (Monash University): From the „Flying Dutchman“ to „Sailormen’s Ghosts“: Haunted Narratives of Dutch Encounters with the Southland, 1600–1700
Leonie Stevens (Monash University): „A Great Deal of Smook“: The Watchers and the Watched across the Hazardous Coastline, from Bass to Torres Strait, 1770
Lily Yulianti Farid (Monash University): Creating a Site of Memories through „Nur Al Marege“ Replica Project

9. Politics, Policies, and Economy II
Noah Riseman (Australian Catholic University): Royal Australian Navy Court Martialled for Homosexuality in the 1950s–60s
Matthew Zagor (Australian National University): Liquid Legalities, Liquid Mobilities: Perspectives on Australia’s Water Borders for „Irregular“ Arrivals

09:00–09:30 CEST / 17:00–17:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

09:30–11:00 CEST / 17:30–19:00 AEST: Parallel Panels
10. Representations and Imaginations I
Leonie John (University of Cologne): „This Beautiful Ocean Was Once a Nightmare to Me“: Hani Abdile’s Ambiguous Relationship with The Sea
Imke Lichterfeld (University of Bonn): Paradise Post-Colonialised? A Perpetual Idealist Gaze at the Australian Seaside
Parin Somani (Independent Scholar): Australian Seascapes: Exploring Identity and Culture through Beaches

11. Representations and Imaginations II
Stephen Alomes (RMIT Melbourne): Confessions of an Australian Littoralist
Heinz Antor (University of Cologne): Growing Up by the Sea in Western Australia: Surfing and Identity-Constitution in Tim Winton’s Breath (2008)
Linda Daley (RMIT Melbourne): Horizons of Land and Sea in Alexis Wright’s Literature

12. Politics, Policies, and Economy III
Jatinder Mann (National Cheng Kung University): Transnational Identities of the Global South Asian Diaspora in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and South Africa, 1900s–1940s
Chris Wallace (University of Canberra): Unmoored from History: Chris Watson and the Political Storm that Swept the World’s First Social Democratic Prime Minister from View

11:00–11:30 CEST / 19:00–19:30 AEST: Tea and Coffee

11:30–13:00 CEST / 19:30–21:00 AEST: Parallel Panels
13. Representations and Imaginations III
Donna Lee Brien (Australian Catholic University / Central Queensland University): Representations of Violent Death in Australian Writing about Bondi Beach
Stephen Enciso (Charles Darwin University): The Beach as a Site of Racialized Violence: Whiteness and the Australian National Imagination

14. Human and Non-human Actors
Ellen Arnold (University of Stavanger): The Phillip Island Penguin Parade in Global Context: Penguins, Tourism, and Conservation
Brooke Grasberger (Brown University): Tasmanian Shore Whaling and Maritime Seasons
Haureh Hussein (University of Trier): Global Entanglements between Māori and Quaker Whaling Families (1790–1840)


08:00–09:00 CEST / 16:00–17:00 AEST: Keynote Webinar
Suvendrini Perera (Curtin University): Remaking the Borderscape: Australian Insularity two Decades after the Tampa
Chair: Carsten Wergin (University of Heidelberg / German Association for Australian Studies)

09:30–10:30 CEST / 17:30–18:30 AEST: Keynote Webinar
Helen Gilbert (Royal Holloway, University of London): Turning Tides: Indigeneity, Belonging and Oceanic Dramaturgies in Australian Theatre
Chair: Leonie Stevens (Monash University)

11:00–12:00 CEST / 19:00–20:00 AEST: Concluding Roundtable Discussion: Australian Seascapes: Past, Present, and Future
Salhia Ben-Messahel (University of Toulon / European Association for Studies of Australia)
Beate Neumeier (University of Cologne / German Association for Australian Studies)
Noah Riseman (Australian Catholic University, International Australian Studies Association)
Chair: Eva Bischoff (Trier University)

My working space

My working space – The Cadbury Research Library – is in the cellar of the Muirhead tower.
– Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

After arriving in Birmingham, I thought to have now – apart from my archive visiting – plenty of time for preparing blog articles. After the first ten days, I have to admit: No, I do not.

In Birmingham I have these manuscripts in mind, which I want to go through:

CMS/B/OMS/C/N E: Early Correspondence, 1809-1821 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 49/1-18: Hall, Francis, 1819-1823 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 55/1-58: King, John, 1820-1854 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 93/1-231: Williams, Rev. Henry, 1823-1861 (2 boxes)

My first step is to go through the sources of the most important Missionary individuals (I ascribe the term “most important” to those, who were regularly mentioned or quoted in secondary literature). Then I take pictures of EACH manuscript page, which means that I am adding roughly 300 pictures every day.

Taking pictures during the day – Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

Afterwards, I copy and remove them from my camera card into my research cloud and separate and distinguish each manuscript number. During the six weeks, in which I stay in Birmingham, do not allow me to additionally read all of them. The aim is to forge a detailed source corpus, which I then can consult and use for my next writing process, when I am back in Trier.

Organizing them in the afternoon/evening. Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

So, taking hundreds of pictures during the days and importing and categorizing them in the evenings, do shape my time here. For the rest of the remaining day, I enjoy lunch breaks in the sun and discover the city centre of Birmingham.

As soon, as I finish with the manuscripts of the individual missionaries, I will go a step further and will take the Mission books and the letter books of the research collection in to account.

Hello Birmingham (Cadbury Research Library)

It took me a while to write this blog article, not due to its planning, but rather because I had a busy time with a lot of Covid-related travel preparations and restrictions.

In May 2021, I applied successfully for a three-month research scholarship of the German Historical Institute London and now, at the end of August, fully vaccinated and equipped with (german and british) Negative Tests and visa, I was finally ready to travel and arrive in the UK.

As this research blog emerges with my current research, I had two different ideas to proceed with the next articles; Either I could start chronologically and explain step by step what I have done so far and what I intend to do in the future. Or I let you dive with me right in my current situation and then provide you with the historical background.

Private Picture – 1.9.2021

I decided for the second way and therefore, I will explain why I travelled to Birmingham in the United Kingdom. I will spend the next six weeks here in order to visit and read the manuscripts of the Church Missionary Society Archive (1799-2009) at the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.

You might ask yourself: “Wait, what? Why does he talk about missionaries? I thought this is all about Quaker Whalers and Māori.” Well, history is unfortunately very complex and one cannot tell all its strings at the same time, yet I will, nevertheless, only focus on the interactions of Missionaries with Māori individuals and Whalers.

Until the next blog post, I will leave you with two monographs of Ballantyne and Middleton, which are two very helpful sources to start with the history of the Church Missionary Society and their encounter with Māori individuals in the early 19th century.


Ballantyne, Tony (2014): Entanglements of Empire. Missionaries, Māori, and the Question of the Body. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

Middleton, Angela (2014): Pewhairangi. Bay of Islands Missions and Maori 1814 to 1845. Dunedin: Otago University Press.

How everything began – and how it continues

Thank you very much for visiting this research blog. Let me give you a short introduction of the function of this website. I understand and consider the content, which I share here with you, as an extended, digitized version of my academic research journal.

In April 2017, when I returned from my Erasmus exchange semester at the KU Leuven in Belgium to Trier University to finish the M.A. degree in History, I had forged a thriving fascination for maritime history related topics. With several (very vague) ideas in mind, I began to talk with several lecturers and eventually found in Ursula Lehmkuhl and Eva Bischoff two encouraging and inspiring supervisors.

One of the most helpful academic practices Eva Bischoff taught (and later also Lynette Russell reminded) me was to trace my thoughts, ideas and process in a research journal. The more I read, researched, structured, changed and wrote the chapters of my M.A. thesis, the more I realized the advantages of journaling, in particular for long-termed projects such as a dissertation project later on.

Private Picture – 20.8.2021

Such a reconstruction and historical tracing method of the own work is crucial and helpful in several ways. It avoids losing the overview, it keeps your motivation – oh yes, even the most interesting topics can (and surely will) frustrate you – and it orientates you in your own process. Research Journaling helps you also to tackle the following questions too:

  • Where do I stay?
  • Which parts have I done successfully already?
  • Which steps are in front of me?
  • Which questions and tasks are urgent right now?

At this point, there is no right or wrong, there are no perfect lines, sentences or thoughts to be deleted.

Tracing the own thoughts can guide you through the wideness of a dissertation project and can (sometimes automatically) rise new questions and thoughts, which can be then discussed and mentioned outside the own research journal.

Having said this, I look forward to come in touch with you.

Transoceanic Voyages

Throughout the 19th century, whale oil was a natural resource that was in high demand as both a lubricant and a means of illumination for the growing cities of the Atlantic World. One can even say: It fuelled the Industrial Revolution in this period. After having exhausted whale populations in the Atlantic, whaling ships from both London and New England ports ventured from the 1790s onwards into the Pacific.

Such transoceanic whaling voyages, which could last up to four years, required regular stops for provisions and supplies at ports and islands. During their stopovers, members of whaling ships came in touch with local communities, traded not only guns and goods, but also employed Indigenous peoples on various islands in the Pacific Ocean. As such, these transoceanic whaling voyages put “thousands of people from around the world on the move”1 and “provided mobility and travel, which facilitated a kind of freedom that was not [always] present on land”2. The whaling ventures departed from Atlantic ports followed the whale migration patterns as far as the Pacific in order to fulfil “the [growing] demands of a vast network of consumers”3 for its oil.

My dissertation project shows on the example of the Swain and Starbuck families how Quaker whalers constituted an interaction space with Native American, African and African American individuals already in the Atlantic. Having these backgrounds in mind, I argue that these families had already formed a specific interaction space in the Atlantic, when they reached the Pacific from 1790 onwards. I aim to reconstruct these multiple socioeconomic relationships of these global interactions between whalers and Māori Iwi between 1790 and 1840.

This research blog shall give my dissertation project a (digital) audience and allow me to discuss specific topics and aspects, to introduce research details, key publications, and accompany me in the academic journey on a regular base.

  1. Wanhalla, Angela (2013): Matters of the Heart. A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, p. 7 []
  2. Russell, Lynette (2012): Roving Mariners. Australian aboriginal whalers and sealers in the southern oceans, 1790-1870. New York: State University of New York Press, p. 97 []
  3. Shoemaker, Nancy (2014): Living with whales. Documents and oral histories of Native New England whaling history. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, p. 4 []
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