Navigation in the Age of Robinson Crusoe

Jamie Bolker

Illustration from the ciphering book of Stephen Jenkins, 1823. Photo courtesy of the author.

As NPR reported in February, the US Navy wants to bring back the practice of celestial navigation, the antiquated art relying on complex calculations that has been handily replaced by GPS technology.  Since electronically assisted navigation over land and sea (and space) has become the norm, it is easy to forget how difficult traveling from point A to B was in centuries past. Read more

The Seafaring Young Family

Detail from the top of shipping articles for the Eureka, a bark mastered by Joseph A. Young

My name is James King and I interned at the Phillips Library this spring as part of my course work at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. My first task was to put my learning from class to the test and process the Young Family Papers, with the experienced help and guidance of Tamara Gaydos. This collection is on the somewhat smaller side, being 2.5 linear feet, but the amount of correspondence and meticulous accounts that have been kept really impressed me, especially from a time when these activities took a lot more time and effort to complete than in today’s technology-driven world. Read more

Building a Boat from the Ground Up: a Look at the Papers of Naval Architect Sam Crocker

Crocker design #128, taken in 1934, box 32, folder 5

Have you ever wondered what it takes to build a boat from the ground up?  Or wondered who manages all of the intricate details, sketches, and decisions that have to be made?  A look through the Samuel S. Crocker papers, MH 13, provides some insight into the endless planning, negotiating, and hard work that goes into the designing and building of luxury yachts and fishing boats.

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