Getting there is Half the Fun

Dinah Cardin

G. B. Conti, “On the Sports Deck” in Augustus – Navigazione Generale Italiana, about 1927–28, printed brochure. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Howard Galvin Steamship Ephemera Collection © Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Allison White.

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr may be the stars of the classic move An Affair to Remember, but the luxury ocean liner that brought the couple together in the middle of the Atlantic certainly played a critical supporting role. “Could there be a more glamorous and romantic setting for a film?” asks Daniel Finamore, PEM’s Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History. “It certainly captured people’s imaginations.” Read more

Raising the Queen Elizabeth

Dinah Cardin

A model of the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth has sat serenely for the last 15 years, gliding along on its pedestal in a PEM gallery. The 2,700 pound object experienced a dramatic disruption in early April as a crew made up of about two dozen PEM staff began the arduous process of moving her to an upper floor gallery be part of the exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed, Glamour, and Style. Read more

Mapping the Diffusion of Imported Cloth into East Africa, c. 1830-1900

Kate Frederick

Cloth imports into East Africa, 1836-1900. Aggregated shipping records from MH 23, MH 235, MSS 901, and MSS 24 series (Peabody Essex Museum, Phillips Library), “Arrival and Departure of American Vessels,” RG 84, Records of Foreign Service Posts, Zanzibar, vol. 84 (National Archives and Records Administration), and government-published trade reports of Bombay and the United Kingdom. British and Indian sources include exports to both Zanzibar and Mozambique. American merchants in East Africa focused almost exclusively on Zanzibar-based trade.

The development of cotton textile production has formed the backbone of numerous industrial takeoffs, including Britain’s industrial revolution and, more recently, the catch-up of several East Asian countries. A seemingly perpetual disappointment of textile industries in East Africa, however, has prompted frequently renewed debates about the role that foreign competition may have played in impeding growth of existing domestic production in the region, particularly as East Africa increasingly opened up to global trade during the nineteenth century. However, insufficient empirical evidence has precluded substantive conclusions. My current project bridges the gap between theory and historical empirical reality to shed light on this piece of the African textile puzzle. Specifically, mapping the diffusion of foreign-produced cloth into nineteenth-century East Africa provides crucial insights into the nature of regional demand and consumption, along with related implications for domestic production Read more