“Collecting All Valuable Publications in Every Language”: The Salem East India Marine Society’s Library

George Schwartz

"Remarks on a Voyage to the Marianna Islands"

During the dedication of the “Marine Room” gallery at the Peabody Academy of Science in 1905, Director Edward Sylvester Morse remarked, “A student of history must be the one to properly bring together the records of the East India Marine Society, but on this occasion it is necessary to give an epitome of well-known data.” Over the past year, I spent my workdays in the cozy confines of the Phillips Library’s Reading Room taking up Morse’s challenge, poring through the museum’s substantial institutional archive and other material for my dissertation on the Peabody Essex Museum’s founding organization. The librarians have greeted me every day with great enthusiasm for my project, the first comprehensive work on the East India Marine Society since 1949, retrieving volumes and letters to aid in my endeavor. Read more

A Floating Glimpse at the Gardner Family Papers

Photograph of unknown Gardner family member, undated

The Gardner Family papers is a collection that focuses on three generations of one branch of the Gardner family—a prominent mercantile and shipping family in Salem, Massachusetts, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  The collection documents their vast land holdings, as well as their merchant and shipping businesses beginning with John Gardner (1736-1816), and including his sons, Richard Gardner (1774-1836), and John Gardner (1771-1847); and John (1771-1847) and his sons, John Gardner (1796-1870), Thomas W. Gardner (1798-1845), Samuel Gardner (1800-1856), and Henry Gardner (1809-1890).  Read more

Logbooks as Art

The Peabody Essex Museum has its origins in the East India Marine Society. In 1799, twenty Salem, Massachusetts ship captains and supercargoes that had sailed around the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn formed a society and one of the stipulations for membership was that they keep a log of their journey, recording wind, weather, ship sightings, and other points of interest. The Phillips Library now owns almost 3,000 of these ship logs, dating from 1748 to the mid-1900s.

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