GHI London Blogpost

 

Thanks to a scholarship of the German Historical Institute London, I have spent several months of last year (September 2021 to November 2021) 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, https://ghil.hypotheses.org/1227 [Last Access: 24.11.2022]. []

“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:

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, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/nantucket-doesnt-belong-to-the-preppies/619874/, 31.08.2021. [last Access:25.7.2022]. [] []

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 Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/providencepublicnicholson, [Last Access: 12.03.2022]. []
  2. Wells, Kate (2019): Finding Aid, Nicholson whaling logbook collection 1762-1931, https://www.provlib.org/wp-content/uploads/finding-aids/003-02-01-FA.pdf, [last Access: 12.03.2022]. []
  3. William Hamilton, 1834-1837, in: whaling history database, https://whalinghistory.org/?s=AV15649, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  4. William Hamilton Logbook 1834-1837, in: Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/journalofwilliam00will/mode/2up, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  5. LADY AMHERST, in: whaling history database, https://whalinghistory.org/?s=BV078010, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  6. William Hamilton Logbook, in: Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/journalofwilliam00will/page/n61/mode/2up?view=theater [Last Access:12.03.2022] [] []
  7. Sarah and Elizabeth, in: whaling history database, https://whalinghistory.org/?s=BV078010, [Last Access: 12.03.2022] []
  8. William Hamilton Logbook, in: Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/journalofwilliam00will/page/n127/mode/2up?view=theater [Last Access:12.03.2022] []

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

I had aimed to write this article already earlier 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 whalinghistory.org 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 🙂

 

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