From the Stacks at the U.S. National Archives
Many thanks for bringing your transcription skills to bear on…well…the BEAR—arguably the most famous vessel to serve in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service— and all the other U.S. vessel logs that will be coming your way via Old Weather. We’ve been watching with excitement as the WWI-era Royal Navy project wrapped up, and anticipating the shift to the logs of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and other sea-going services. We have been busy prepping the logs and clicking the shutters to keep you supplied.
Allow us to introduce ourselves. There are three of us in the National Archives team: Mark C. Mollan, Elizabeth Hope, and Luydmilla Mishonova. Mark is a Navy/Maritime Reference Archivist and is charged with getting the records prepped and camera ready. Elizabeth works in digital preservation at Archives 1 (on the National Mall in Washington D.C.). She images the log book pages and makes sure every detail is captured. Milla is photographing additional Navy and Coast Survey logbooks at Archives 2 in Maryland.
We’ve already come across some interesting dramas and historical footnotes. The December 1897 log book for the BEAR covers the start of the harrowing Overland Expedition, which took a small Revenue Cutter Service crew from Cape Vancouver to Point Barrow, Alaska. After a journey of more than 1500 miles, 200 stranded whalemen were rescued from starvation.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to dust off these records of yesteryear and make the weather of the past relevant to climate science of today, as well as share these wonderful stories with generations to come. We look forward to corresponding with all of you citizen scientists on this groundbreaking collaboration.
Until next time,
Elizabeth, Mark and Milla
The Royal Navy as Weather Observers
Sailors have been deeply concerned with the weather since ancient times: wind speed and direction, and estimates of ocean currents, were critical information for keeping track of the ship’s position. The Royal Navy records in the National Archives and the National Maritime Museum go back into the 17th century, and even the earliest logbooks contain descriptions of the weather of each day. Read More…