Governor Dannel P. Malloy, State Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington), and other Connecticut state legislators today designated the 2013-14 academic year to be the “Year of the Charles W. Morgan” in the State of Connecticut. The designation will afford students across the state a unique opportunity to learn about Connecticut history, the significance of the whaling industry, and the importance of the state’s maritime heritage.
Mystic Seaport is currently restoring the whaleship in the Museum shipyard in preparation for a voyage to historic ports in New England in 2014. As part of this project, the Museum is developing educational resources and programs to be made available to Connecticut schools to use the Morgan as a tool to teach students about the state’s past.
Built and launched in New Bedford in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan sailed on 37 voyages covering the entire globe over a whaling career that lasted 80 years. The ship came to Mystic Seaport in 1941 and became the centerpiece of what has become the nation’s leading maritime museum. The Morgan is the oldest American commercial vessel still in existence and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967.
A powerful draw for Connecticut’s tourism industry, more than 20 million people have walked her decks since she arrived at the Museum.
“We sincerely appreciate this gesture of support from the Governor, his administration, and state lawmakers. The “Year of the Charles W. Morgan” will help us put together a multi-agency initiative to use the Morgan as a catalyst for increased tourism, economic development, and innovative educational programming,” said Mystic Seaport president Stephen C. White.
A Vessel for Education
The “Year of the Charles W. Morgan” will feature an extensive series of learner-based programs and resources for teachers to leverage to teach a range of subject material, including but not limited to history. The story of whaling and the Morgan touches on themes of globalization, America’s economic and social history, science, and environmental conservation, among others. Mystic Seaport is working with educators, administrators, foundations, and students to craft programs for the year.
Some of the initiatives currently in development:
- With the support of a $500,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Mystic Seaport is building an Online Learning Community that will feature the Morgan as central content for an interactive curriculum.
- On-site programs for school groups to visit the ship.
- Off-site programs where Museum educators travel to Connecticut schools to assist teachers with in-person presentations.
- Partnerships with Institutions of Higher Learning, such as the Museum’s current joint efforts with the Williams-Mystic program and the University of Connecticut-Avery Point.
“We want every child to have the chance to visit the Morgan. Unfortunately, in this day and age that is not feasible. However, through technology and special programs we can take the Morgan to every student in the state,” said White.
An Unprecedented Voyage
In the late spring of 2014, the Morgan will embark on a historic 38th Voyage to historic ports in New England. The journey will begin with several weeks in New London, where she will finalize her preparations and conduct sail training. This will also include events celebrating the city’s whaling heritage. At one time, New London was one of the top five whaling ports in the world and much of the economic development of Eastern Connecticut owes its start to the wealth brought home by the city’s whaleships.
The Morgan will then sail to Newport, New Bedford (where she was built and sailed from for much of her career), Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, through the Cape Cod Canal on the centennial anniversary of its opening, Provincetown, which she will use as a base for day sails among the whales on Stellwagon Bank, and finally to Boston to join the USS Constitution.
Each port stop will have a series of public events and programs focusing on that particular city’s heritage. When she returns to Mystic Seaport in August, the Morgan will return to her berth at Chubb’s Wharf and resume her role as an exhibit and flagship of the Museum.
More information on the ship, her history, the restoration, and plans for the 38th Voyage are available at mysticseaport.org/charleswmorgan.
About Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, it is the home of four national Historic Landmark vessels, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest commercial vessel in the United States. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/.