News 2011: The Schooner Ernestina's history to be preserved by UMass Dartmouth

News 2011: The Schooner Ernestina's history to be preserved by UMass Dartmouth
The Schooner Ernestina's history to be preserved by UMass Dartmouth

Records, photos, and films documenting fishing, immigration and scientific voyages to be donated to Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections by the Schooner Ernestina Commission

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Department of the Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced today the transfer of historical papers and artifacts related to the Schooner Ernestina's voyages to at the University's Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections.

The Ernestina, which is based in New Bedford now, was built in 1894 at the James and Tarr Shipyard for the Gloucester fishing fleet. Under Captain Bob Bartlett she sailed to within 600 miles of the North Pole on scientific expeditions (the closest a sailing vessel had ever come to the North Pole), and brought immigrants to the U.S. from Cape Verde for 30 years. Returned to the U.S. in 1982 as a gift from the newly independent Cape Verdean people, she sailed as an educator until 2005. The Schooner is a National Historic Landmark and the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Accepting the collection, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean McCormack said, "The Ernestina and the people who sailed with her represent a priceless swath of our region's history. We are honored by this opportunity to collect, organize, and study these historical assets. We look forward to sharing these treasures with the public in the years ahead so current and future generations will know the Cape Verdean contribution to our community."

Massachusetts Commissioner of Conversation and Recreation Edward M. Lambert, Jr., whose agency oversees the maintenance of the schooner, said, "DCR is pleased to partner with UMass Dartmouth and the Claire T. Carney Library's Archives and Special Collections division as we look to provide a safe and permanent home for this rare and valuable collection of historical materials related to DCR's Schooner Ernestina. The Patrick-Murray Administration is deeply committed to the goal of preserving our Commonwealth's historic and cultural resources and this partnership will allow us to ensure that the public and all those interested in the history of the Ernestina will be afforded appropriate access to these resources for generations to come. DCR and the Schooner Ernestina Commission have made significant investments in our efforts to repair and restore the Ernestina. Safeguarding these records is certainly a natural and complementary step in our overall effort."

"We are pleased that the Archives will be preserved and maintained in an appropriate environment," said Schooner Massachusetts Commission Vice Chairperson Dr. Laura Pires-Hester We hope that it will be mined by not only researchers but also young people and adults from the community who are interested in the 117-year-old Schooner's rich history, her usage here since 1982, and her limitless potential for generations to come."

"As the home of the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, the UMass Dartmouth Archives and Special Collections is pleased to add the archives of the Schooner Ernestina- Morrissey Association to its holdings," added Terrance Burton, Dean of the Claire T. Carney Library. "The records are important not only as documentary evidence of the ship's extensive arctic and later Cape Verdean packet service, but also as a record of a multi-decade grassroots effort to save a piece of maritime history for the local community."

"As I go through this rich collection, I am in awe of the time and perseverance required to save this important legacy on behalf of the Cape Verdean community," said Judith Farrar, Director of the University's Archives and Special Collections. "There is enthusiastic support for the ongoing care and growth of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association Archives, and I am pleased to offer our professional assistance and a superior facility. An academic environment is the ideal setting to preserve these important records, which will enrich the library's holdings and offer opportunities for work and study for the faculty, community, and the student body."

The collection, which was inventoried by DCR Archivist Sean Fisher, contains items representing the diverse history of the unique schooner, including 1894 photos of the newly-built Effie M. Morrissey (later named the Ernestina) and the fog horn patented in 1901. Other items include log books in Portuguese from 1954 and 1982 (the Cape Verde to United States voyage returning Ernestina as a gift from Cape Verde) and a 16 millimeter film of "Ice Captain" Bob Bartlett's Arctic voyages.

In addition, records of the schooner's various advocacy groups (Bartlett Exploration Association, National Friends of Ernestina/Morrissey, New Bedford and CT Friends, Ernestina/Morrissey Historical Association) document the campaigns to repair and repatriate the vessel and support her program operations. Other donations include diaries, scrapbooks, and photographs held by persons intimately involved with Ernestina/ex-Effie M. Morrissey--including portraits of Effie M. Morrissey and Ernestina Randall, daughters of Captain William Morrissey and Captain Henrique Mendes, respectively; books and pamphlets relating to Cape Verdean history and Bartlett's voyages; and curricular materials.

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