We’re excited to share that over the past eight months the Museum staff has been working diligently to implement a new ticketing and online order system that will significantly improve your interactions with the Museum. This system will elevate your user experience by providing a quicker and smoother checkout processes, streamlined communication, and a reduction in our environmental footprint.
In order to activate these benefits, you will need to create a new online account. The process is simple and should only require a few minutes of your time.
You will receive an email with a link to reset your password.
Create your new password
Once your account is created, you will have the ability to update your account and preferences, see your upcoming events and get access to your e-tickets. For members, you will also have access to relevant member information.
This issue of the Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine features our newest exhibition, Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, and articles on Blue Technology, the Blue Economy, and introduced species, highlighting a shift in perspective at the Museum to raise awareness and inspire conversations around the critical global issues that face our oceans due to the impacts of maritime activities as part of our collective cultural, social, and economic heritage. Also included is news from the Shipyard on the L.A. Dunton and Coronet projects, Sabino’s return to the water, and much more!
How My Internship at Mystic Seaport Museum Brought Me Closer to My Tribe’s Beading Heritage
By Cheyenne Morning Song Tracy, White Earth Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
I was born in New London, raised in Groton, and have been coming to Mystic Seaport Museum since I was three. It’s always been a special place for me, so when I heard of the Museum’s internship program that was centered on the theme of Reimagining New England Histories, with the goal of including diverse narratives in the museum, I jumped at the chance to be involved. As a Native American woman, I have rarely seen this done, and I felt that this was something that I needed to be a part of. The experience has been far more impactful than I could have realized. During the internship, I had the opportunity to work with a Mystic Seaport Museum community partner, Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island. This museum is a Native American-run space that does not have specific ties to any one tribe. The Tomaquag Museum tells a cohesive story of the local tribes of New England. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding and staffing, their collection hadn’t been inventoried in over 40 years. During the summer, my intern team and I were able to inventory their entire collection of belongings (The term belonging is used when describing artifacts in a collection to acknowledge personal connection of the people and communities who created and cared for them.
While doing this inventory, I was able to experience many amazing belongings. Working in a small room I got to know the beadwork intimately. Though not alive, the presence of the beaders that had stitched and worn the beadwork was still there. The beadwork has a life of its own, it opens a window into the thoughts and feelings of the beader. With every box I took off the shelves, opening and unwrapping the beadwork, I always felt my heartbeat get a little faster. While reflecting on this experience, I realized that the beaded makizin (Anishinaabek for moccasins) that I worked with were the first I had handled that were not mass-produced. While wearing protective gloves to prevent oils from my skin from getting onto the beadwork, I would run my hand over the beads softly, admiring their craftsmanship and how the beads caught the light and reflected patterns. The buckskin that these moccasins were made out of was almost always dried out from age, and the horsewoman in me wanted to use saddle soap to rehydrate them (though that would not have been a good idea). With the contribution of my research to accompany these belongings, I hope the presence of these past beaders can shine through all the brighter.
As I inventoried the belongings, I felt a strong connection to the beadwork of the northeastern coastal tribes; although I am an Anishinaabe of the White Earth reservation in Minnesota. Minnesota is referred to as the land of ten thousand lakes, and while over 5,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the people have their own connection to water and waterways. My grandmother was raised by her grandparents and grew up on our reservation near Elbow Lake. Her grandparents raised her after her mother died at a young age from tuberculosis. They taught her the traditional ways of their ancestors. This included learning the language, making her a fluent speaker of Anishinaabek. (A note to the reader: Anishinaabe, Anishinaaba, and Anishinaabek are used interchangeably for the tribe depending on the region. Generally Anishinaabek is used in reference to the language). At the age of eight, her father moved her off the reservation causing her to lose much of her knowledge about our language and culture. Because of this, my mom and I did not get the chance to connect to the reservation or our heritage in the same way my grandmother was able to. My grandmother was never taught beadwork, so I was never able to learn beading from her or my mother, the traditional way of learning to bead. The year before my internship at Mystic Seaport Museum I bought an earring beading kit from another Native beader and began my own beadwork journey to connect with my Anishinaabe heritage.
During the first part of my internship, we were encouraged to go to the Educational Powwow at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Going to this powwow allowed me to see more contemporary beadwork that people were wearing. This is how I met a Shinnecock beader. We struck up a conversation over the beadwork that she had for sale and was working on. I am known by many to be a very shy person, but my ancestors must have given me some courage that day. Talking with her I told her about how I was learning to bead but was not very good. And she encouraged me to keep beading. Through beading, I made a new friend.
Gratefully, after the summer internship at Mystic Seaport Museum concluded, I was able to extend my work through the fall to work more with the beadwork at the Tomaquag Museum. My research was originally focused on what in the collection are Anishinaabe belongings or belongings inspired by Anishinaabe art and tools. My first step was to make a list of what I thought was or could be connected to one of these two categories. As I researched, I realized that what I knew most about and was connected to the deepest was the beadwork. In order to truly understand the difference between Anishinaabe beadwork and other tribes’ beadwork I needed to research the unique characteristics of each. The Anishinaabe are known for floral beadwork designs. As I studied and researched this beadwork, I observed that Anishinaabe traditional beadwork is fluid, circular, and flows, with lots of vines that were often made with opaque white beads. It is often stitched on black or red velvet, and occasionally on a mixture of buckskin and velvet. Flowers tend to be outlined in a different color than the flowers themselves. The petals tend to be oval in shape, and the beadwork is balanced but not mirrored and has S-curve motifs. The Anishinaabe are a woodland tribe. Though different from the woodland tribes of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the Anishinaabe share the use of floral patterns in their beadwork.
Beadwork from the tribes in Connecticut and Rhode Island is different from Anishinaabe beadwork, as it incorporates wampum as well as the pan-Indian style of beading. Wampum are purple and white beads made out of the quahog (hard shell) clam. Traditionally these beads were used as gifts and to document agreements. Wampum belts are highly prized. When the Dutch arrived on Turtle Island (Turtle Island, the Native American name for North America, comes from the creation story about North America being on the back of a turtle.) they saw how prized wampum were and soon started to use it as currency, though wampum is not a currency in Native American culture. Coming into its own in the early 1900s, pan-Indian beadwork is a cohesive style that incorporates the styles of tribes across the United States in distinctive more geometric and western-themed depictions.
Beading existed on Turtle Island long before the arrival of Europeans but this arrival marked a big change in beadwork. Before Europeans, beads were made out of seeds, animal bones, animal teeth, shells, and stones. The Anishinaabe are still renowned for the use of the natural material of porcupine quills. With European arrival came glass seed beads from Italy which brought a variety of colors to the beadwork of Native Americans. This portion of Native American beading history was discussed in Sargent, Whistler and Venetian Glass which closed on February 27. The beaded top hat embellished with wampum pictured below was on loan from the Tomaquag Museum. Also on loan was a necklace constructed from wampum and beads. These belongings are modern so color usage and style are different from older beadwork pieces. Historically, the harder the color was to achieve the more valuable the bead was. The value of beads would also change from tribe to tribe as different tribes valued different colors. But across all tribes, the color that was highly prized was sky blue as it was not something that was achievable in dyes that were available on Turtle Island.
When I first started beading I was making earrings either fringe or powwow style. Beading anything but earrings was intimidating to me as it was so much more time and work. This feeling changed when working with the beadwork at Tomaquag. To feel them, to see them up close, I was inspired by the familiarity of these new beading techniques. Fringe requires only one needle, beads, and thread. While powwow style earrings require the two-needle method, where one thread holds the beads and the other tacks them down onto the backing every two or three beads. The two-needle method is used on larger pieces of beadwork for intricate designs. While the two-needle method sounds more complicated it is in fact just as easy as the fringe earrings. The process of making both these styles of earrings is different, but both are equally important to Native American culture. Another method, one I have yet to try, called lazy or lain stitch is used to cover a larger piece, like makizin, at a faster rate. To do this the beads are stitched down every seven to eight beads in line. There is also loom beading which requires a special loom to weave the beads into one piece. This can be used to make necklaces, bracelets, and lines of beadwork that can be attached to clothes. While there are many other styles of beadwork as well, the ones that I have studied at Tomaquag are lazy/lain stitch, two-needle, and loom beading. The different styles of beading can be overwhelming, but they each are used to achieve a different goal in a beader’s work.
As the summer progressed, I gained more confidence. I never imagined I would attempt to stitch a larger floral beaded design. These are what many imagine when they think of Anishinabek beading. I created the floral work you see in the image for the shoulder pad of a bag for my fiance, my biggest cheerleader. As he saw me growing, he made me a larger bead loom so I could create larger beadwork. I decided I wanted to make a belt. I used a pattern from Beads To Buckskins Volume Two by Peggy Sue Henry. This pattern is in the pan-Indian style, but the colors are inspired by my Anishinabek heritage.
For a long time, I have wanted to bead a pair of makizins that belonged to my grandmother. After her passing in 2012 from cancer I was given her makizins (we both had big feet and I am the only one in the family they fit). While they were not handmade, they belonged to my grandmother and still hold a great connection to her. I think of her when I wear them. Before the work I did at Tomaquag, I was nervous about doing anything with her makizins, as I felt I didn’t know the first thing about beading them. When working with all the beautifully decorated makizins at Tomaquag it was clear, I had to learn to bead my grandmother’s makizins. After nearly a year on this challenging journey, today, when I hold the pair of moccasins from my grandmother, and I eye the blank canvas of the empty hide on top yearning for color and light … I have a feeling I might be ready.
I am so grateful for all that I was able to learn and want to say a big miigwetch (Thank you) to the staff at Mystic Seaport Museum, the staff at Tomaquag Museum, and of course my supportive fiancé.
1920’s Queer Speedboat Racer Joe Carstairs: Dubbed “The Fastest Woman on Water”
By Elizabeth Ferrara
In 1920, Joe Carstairs was racing against American Gar Wood for the Harmsworth British International Motor-boat Trophy. Joe was in the lead when, “without warning, her boat leaped into the air and plunged nose first into the water throwing both Miss Carstairs and her mechanic out …” (Summerscale, 106) Disaster and loss aside, “in her average of 64.089 miles, she made a new record for England, scoring the fastest time of any British contestant.” (Sabine 41)
Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs was born in London on February 1, 1900, to Frances Evelyn Bostwick and Captain Albert Carstairs. Evelyn Bostwick was from a family of Standard Oil heirs and Captain Carstairs, a Scotsman, was part of the Royal Irish Rifles. From her mother’s side, Joe inherited enough money to fund her love of boats, support her racing friends, and let her become the “Queen” of her own island when she purchased Whale Cay in the Bahamas. She usually dressed as a man, had tattooed arms, and loved machines. Throughout her ninety-three years, Joe lived a life full of thrills, adventure, and speed.
Joe’s father left the family after her parents’ divorce when she was a baby. Her mother had problems with drugs and alcohol which put a strain on their mother-daughter relationship and led to their estrangement. At age eleven, Joe was sent by her mother on an ocean liner from Southampton, England, to New York – over 3,000 miles – to attend an all-girls boarding school in Stamford, Connecticut. Joe showed her strength and resilience by not giving up or letting her mother’s temperament or judgment get in her way. In fact, her trip across the ocean is what inspired Joe to pursue a career in ambulance driving, speed boat racing, and many more adventures.
Joe sometimes stayed with her grandmother, Nellie Bostwick, in New York during holidays. In 1916, at age sixteen, with her grandmother’s permission, she left for Paris to drive an ambulance during World War I. It was with a woman in Paris that Joe had her first romantic experience. “‘I said, “My God, what a marvelous thing.” I found it a great pity I’d waited so long.” (Summerscale, 26) After WWI, Joe joined other women volunteering to relieve male drivers who drove British officers in northern France. Besides driving, the women also had to clear battlefields, supervise prisoners of war, and aid in the hospitals. In 1918, to ensure access to her inheritance, Joe married her childhood friend, Count Jacque de Pret. When her mother died in 1921, Joe got her marriage annulled due to non-consummation. Using her acquired funds, Joe and her female friends opened a women’s only garage, the “X-Garage” in London. They taxied families around London and served as limo drivers for their businessmen clientele.
Joe spent her time and money on other hobbies as well. In 1925, she used her money to commission a motorboat. Gwen, named after friend and lover Gwen Farrar, was a 17-foot, 1.5-litre hydroplane. During a test run Gwen capsized and when she resurfaced Joe renamed the boat Newg (Gwen backwards). This was just the first of many motorboats Joe Carstairs owned and raced. In 1927, Joe commissioned the same man who built Newg to build three more boats, all hydroplanes, and named them Estelle I, Estelle II, and Estelle III.
Joe had many lovers, including Hollywood actresses Greta Garbo, Tallulah Bankhead, Gwen Farrar, Marlene Dietrich, as well as Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dolly Wilde. The most impactful and influential of Joe’s girlfriends was Ruth Baldwin. While on a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps, Ruth gave Joe a leather man-doll, just over a foot tall. Joe named the doll Lord Tod Wadley and cherished him for the rest of her life. Joe and Ruth lived together in a house, bought by Joe, in Mulberry Walk, off King’s Road in Chelsea, London. “Joe mounted a plaque which read: ‘Marion Barbara Carstairs and Lord Tod Wadley.’ The plaque played with the idea that it might be more acceptable that Miss Carstairs be partnered by a fictional aristocrat than a live girl.” (Summerscale, 82) Ruth Baldwin collapsed at a party and later died in her room at Mulberry Walk on August 31, 1937.
In 1934, Joe bought an island that she had seen for sale in an American Newspaper advertisement the year before. Whale Cay, in the West Indies, is about 1,000 acres and nine miles long. Joe worked alongside others to build roadways (26 miles in all), a lighthouse, power plant, schoolhouse, church, radio station, and a museum. “The island granary, chock-full of corn and guinea corn as well as coconuts, was among the biggest in the Bahamas. Joe experimented with canning fish, with kippering the goggle (herring), and with making fertiliser from fish by-products.” (Summerscale, 130)
Joe Carstairs also dabbled in poetry, privately printing books of her work in 1940 and 1941. She published them under the pen name, Hans Jacob Berstein. In her poems, she touches on topics such as emotions, hurricanes, homosexuality, feminism, and the death of a woman, most likely about Ruth Baldwin.
In 1975, Joe sold Whale Cay for just under $1 million, due to declining health. From 1976-1990 she lived in Florida. On December 18th, 1993, Joe fell into a coma and died peacefully with Lord Tod Wadley in her arms. Joe and Wadley were cremated together. “Their ashes, with those of Ruth Baldwin, were taken from Florida to Long Island, where a memorial service was held in a Presbyterian whalers’ church.” (Summerscale, 234) The remains of the three were placed in a tomb by the sea.
Why is it important to continue telling Joe Carstairs’ life story? As a young queer person living in the 21st century, I believe it is important that people know that queer people and the LGBTQ+ community are ever present, throughout time and space. In a sport that has been and still is predominantly male dominated, it is especially important to know that there are women, past and present, that enjoy the speed and competition of racing.
You will find more information and see objects relating to Joe Carstairs by visiting the Classic Boat Museum Gallery and the Cowes Maritime Museum, both in Cowes, England. The Classic Boat Museum Gallery holds a wealth of information about Joe’s time on the Isle of Wight, including trophies, albums, press cutting books and many photographs. Archival photographs such as the two shown below can be found with many others, in the Rosenfeld Collection at the Mystic Seaport Museum. If you would like to learn more about Joe’s life, Kate Summerscale’s biography The Queen of Whale Cay: The Extraordinary Life of “Joe” Carstairs, the Fastest Woman on Water is a great read. It is on her website here.
This issue of the Mystic Seaport Museum Magazine celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard, the first shipyard built specifically for preservation in the United States, and possibly the world. We also explore the digitization process at our Collection Research Center, the launch of MAINSHEET, a biannual peer-reviewed interdisciplinary publication and more.
Everything You Need To Know About The Public Parking & Shuttle Service at the Museum
Parking in downtown Mystic has been a growing challenge and the Museum is now working Laz Parking to alleviate traffic and parking issues during the peak tourist season. The south half of the Museum’s South Lot, located along Route 27 will be available to downtown visitors for $10 per day (Museum members and visitors will continue to enjoy free parking).
This fee includes a free shuttle bus service to downtown Mystic which will run from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and may be adjusted as demand is established over the course of the season. Downtown Mystic visitors will be prompted through parking lot signage to pay via the Laz Parking App or through Text to Donate. Proof of payment will be required to gain shuttle access.
Parking for Museum members and visitors will remain free in the north half of the south lot as well as the in the North Parking lot, located across from the Thompson Exhibition Building. Guests of Latitude 41 will also continue to benefit from free parking in the North Parking Lot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why paid parking at Mystic Seaport Museum?
In partnership with the Town of Stonington, Mystic Seaport Museum is working as a community partner to alleviate traffic congestion and lack of parking options in downtown Mystic.
Laz Parking will provide a paid parking option and shuttle bus to downtown.
Where do I park if I want to visit downtown Mystic?
Paid parking for downtown Mystic is available in the southern half of the south lot at Mystic Seaport Museum. Follow street signs for Laz Parking and take the traffic light at the tug boat. When you enter the parking lot, follow signs and turn to the right for paid parking.
Do I need to pay to park if I am visiting the Museum?
Parking for Museum visitors and members is free!
If you are visiting the Museum as a member or visitor, please park in the north lot, or the northern half of the south lot (follow signs).
Only the southern half of the South Lot is reserved for paid parking for those visiting downtown Mystic.
What is the cost?
The fee is $10/day which allows you access to the shuttle bus.
How do I pay?
Signage in the lot will provide a QR code to scan for payment. Signage will also provide information on a text to pay option. If you are a frequent user, you can download the Laz Parking app.
What time does the shuttle bus run?
Right now, the plan is to run 10am-6pm and we will announce extended hours if we see that there is later demand. Shuttle wait time is less than 15 minutes, depending on traffic. Board at the shuttle bus stop in the South Lot. The shuttle run is about 2 minutes and drops off near the flagpole in downtown Mystic. You can pick it up in the same location to return to the Museum. You can leave your car in the lot past 6pm, but you will need to walk back from downtown Mystic once the shuttle bus stops running. It is less than half a mile from the Museum’s parking lot to downtown Mystic.
Is the shuttle bus handicapped accessible?
Do I need to display my payment receipt?
No, when you register, you enter your license plate which can be checked for payment verification.
You need to show proof of payment on your mobile device to board the shuttle bus.
On Monday, April 11, 2022, Plimoth Patuxet’s Mayflower II departs from the Museum at approximately 3 p.m. The 65-year-old wooden vessel spent the winter months in dry dock at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard for routine maintenance and painting. The ship’s travel schedule is entirely dependent on tide, weather conditions, and other factors, and therefore subject to change without notice.
We look forward to welcoming visitors as The Mayflower II departs. For those who cannot view the launch in person you are able to track the ships journey here.
Researchers, historians, and genealogy enthusiasts now have an expanded resource to explore the history of the whaling industry and the individuals who were part of the global enterprise, with recent additions to the Whaling History website (WhalingHistory.org), a joint project of Mystic Seaport Museum and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
The data presented combines many sources including logbooks, journals, ship registers, newspapers, business papers, and custom house records. Users can find and trace whaling voyages and ships to specific logbooks, as well as the list of crew members aboard many of the voyages.
A popular feature of the site is a dialog where users can search crew lists to discover if they have a relative who shipped out on a whaling voyage.
The foundational fabric of Whaling History features three databases that have been stitched together – the American Offshore Whaling Voyage (AOWV) database, the American Offshore Whaling Log database, and an extensive whaling crew list database. All data is open to the public and is downloadable for any researcher to use with other tools and systems.
The site has been expanded recently with the addition of 370 new whaling voyages to the AOWV database, most from the 18th century, and the integration of the Dennis Wood Abstracts of Whaling Voyages. The latter are brief handwritten summaries of whaling voyages compiled over more than forty years (1830–1874) by Dennis Wood, a merchant and whaling agent in New Bedford. The abstracts were drawn from news reported in the Whalemen’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript, and from letters, telegrams, and reports brought back by vessels. The New Bedford Free Public Library scanned the four volumes from its collection, containing more than 2,300 pages, and placed them on the Internet Archive.
“These new additions to the world’s most comprehensive whaling history database enhance the site’s scope and, most important, make it available for all to use,” said Paul O’Pecko, Vice President of Research Collections at Mystic Seaport Museum. “Researchers, genealogists, students, teachers, and history buffs alike will find it to be the most robust and useful repository of whaling history documentation and scholarship.”
Mystic Seaport Museum will present its 2022 America and the Sea Award to Captain William “Bill” Pinkney, former Mystic Seaport Museum trustee, U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, sailor, educator, author, and adventurer. The prestigious award recognizes those individuals and organizations whose extraordinary achievements in the world of maritime exploration, competition, scholarship, and design best exemplify the American character. As a former trustee of Mystic Seaport Museum, Pinkney and his work to open the maritime world to inner-city youth and others around the United States embody the Museum’s mission to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.
Museum President Peter Armstrong said, “Captain Pinkney expertly and professionally unwraps the stories of the sea, from circumnavigation to the history of the triangle trade, for a wide and diverse audience. An ambassador to those who believe the maritime world is not their world, he has proven adept in showing everyone that the sea connects us all.”
Pinkney has been drawn to the sea from a very young age and has worked to sustain a personal connection as well as provide opportunities for others to learn the important history of people and the sea and the resulting influence on American culture. His work as the first captain of the freedom schooner Amistad – the first vessel constructed from the keel up at Mystic Seaport Museum – and his journey through the Middle Passage on The Sortilege, shared with educators and classrooms across the country, brought to life personal connections to the history of slavery and the crucial role that seafaring played. His solo circumnavigation on his 47-foot cutter, aptly named The Commitment, from Boston around the five southern capes and back to Boston, spanning 27,000 miles and 22 months, grew into an educational opportunity for so many children via video diaries, phone conversations, opportunities to track his progress through satellite technology and lesson plans that included nautical calculations and the influence of faraway cultures. All of this incredible work, born from a desire to leave a legacy for his grandchildren, speaks to the mission of Mystic Seaport Museum.
The Museum will recognize Pinkney’s exceptional life by awarding him the America and the Sea Award on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. The award presentation will take place at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Individuals interested in an invitation can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This affair is the premier fundraising event for Mystic Seaport Museum. Past recipients of the America and the Sea Awardinclude outstanding yachtsman Terry Hutchinson; America’s Cup Hall of Famer Tom Whidden, one of the most acclaimed sailors of all time; American businesswoman and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt, whose ocean explorations have advanced our understanding of the ocean’s biodiversity and vulnerability; groundbreaking Whitbread and America’s Cup sailor Dawn Riley and Oakcliff Sailing; philanthropist and environmentalist David Rockefeller, Jr., and his Sailors for the Sea; boat designers Rod and Bob Johnstone and their company J/Boats; author and historian Nathaniel Philbrick; maritime industrialist Charles A. Robertson; America’s Cup Hall of Famer and author Gary Jobson; WoodenBoat Publications founder Jon Wilson; former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman; oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle; America’s Cup sailor William Koch; President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley; historian David McCullough; and the first honoree, legendary yacht designer Olin J. Stephens, II.